Stone Spot Cleaning Guidelines

Spot Cleaning Guidelines for Stone Tile

Following six basic guidelines will limit the potential damage to your stone.


First Guideline:  Timing.

Tend to debris, stains, and spills as quickly as possible. Debris grind the surface and stains set harder with time.


Second Guideline:  Dry Debris.

Use a dry method of sweeping or vacuuming for dry debris (e.g., dirt, sand, ash, toner, or powder). An early application of moisture on dry particulate may make the problem worse.


Third Guideline:  Liquids.

Blot or wet-vacuum liquids to avoid spreading the problem. Only after you have extracted as much as possible by blotting or vacuuming should you potentially introduce a water or a liquid cleaner; otherwise, an early application of moisture may drive the problem deeper or expand the problem wider.


Fourth Guideline:  Technique.

Use a white, clean, absorbent towel. The stone's surface can become permanently scratched or the finish (if applied) can be removed by using a rough scrubbing or scouring pad.


Fifth Guideline:  Cleaning Agents.

Use a cleaning agent that is as mild as possible to ensure that your stone is not ruined by the cleaning agent.  Start with only tap water (which is almost a neutral 7.0 on the pH scale).  If water alone is insufficient, try a diluted, neutral cleaner close to pH 7 (e.g., Ivory Liquid Dish Detergent [pH 7.4]).  Carefully follow the instructions if you use an over-the-counter stone cleaner.  Apply the cleaning agent to a white cloth.  Then, use the cloth to remove the stain.


Sixth Guideline and Last Step:  Rinse.

When finished, leave the floor free of cleaner residue and as dry as possible by rinsing and again blotting with a dry towel.

Remove Petroleum Byproducts

Use mineral spirits (a clear solvent) or acetone (as found in fingernail polish) to remove petroleum-based problems or isolated, shoe scuff marks.  Petroleum byproducts include some inks, paints, markers, crayons, cosmetics, lipstick, lotion, sunscreen, furniture and shoe polish, lubricant, oil, grease, asphalt, and tar.  Again, apply the solvent to a towel.  Then, use the towel on your stone.

CAUTION:  Solvent liquids are flammable.  A solvent can carry a stain deeper into stone if allowed to absorb.

Remove Absorbed Stains

If a stain was absorbed into the stone, you may be able to use a poultice to draw the stain from the stone.  The type of poultice used will vary depending upon the type of stone and the type of stain.  Purchase the suitable poultice and follow the instructions.

NOTE:  A poultice to remove a rust may etch the stone requiring that the affected area be re-polished or re-honed.

Remove Gum or Wax

First, use ice to harden the candle wax or gum.  Then, use the edge of a wooden, plastic, or Teflon spatula or a credit card to scrape off the gum or wax.  If hardening the gum or wax does not work, use warm water and liquid handsoap to remove the wax or gum.  Wax or gum can also be removed with mineral spirits (a clear solvent) or acetone (as found in fingernail polish).  Do not allow your cleaning product to seep into the joints.

Products with Risk

Although sealed stone offers some resistance, stone may be vulnerable to janitorial chemicals and industrial products, including strong acids or alkalines, bleaching agents, dyes, solvents, pesticides, petroleum byproducts, and more.  Strong acid cleaners will etch stone and thus require re-honing or re-polishing.  Lime, calcium, and rust removal cleaners, such as Lime-A-Way® (pH 1), containing sulfamic acid and warn against use on natural marble, stone, terrazzo, colored grout, or counter tops.  Calcium-based stones (e.g., marble or travertine) is more susceptible to acid or chemical damage than silicate-based stones (e.g., granite), but both can be damaged by unattended acids, including acidic beverages:  milk (pH 6.8), coffee (6.3), beer or wine (4.0), orange juice (3.6), apple juice (3.4), Gatorade® (3.1), Powerade® (2.7), Pepsi® or Coca Cola® (2.3), and lemon juice (2.0).  Tar and asphalt residue can permanently yellow rugs, carpet, stone, hardwood, laminate, vinyl, and rubber flooring.


Read:  How to Maintain Commercial Stone Tile for general maintenance instructions. Read:  How to Maintain Residential Stone Tile for general maintenance instructions.