How to Clean an Antique Marble Tabletop

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Marble is a classic and elegant stone that has been used for thousands of years for art and design. Though marble is a sturdy material, its porous surface makes it vulnerable to stains. If you found an antique marble table that needs some repairs, don't despair. You can bring this sturdy material back to life with some care and cleaning.

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Quick Facts About Marble

Marble is made from limestone — a naturally porous stone — that has undergone a recrystallization process. Marble is a beautiful and versatile stone used for sculptures, flooring, countertops, tables, interior walls, fireplaces, and backsplashes. It can be found in varying designs and colors, including shades of white, cream, pink, gray, and brown.

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What to Avoid When Cleaning Marble Tabletops

While marble is a heavy-duty material, it requires special care and attention to keep it free from stains and damage. Because it's a porous stone easily susceptible to stains, you'll want to avoid using acidic cleaners, like vinegar or lemon juice, which will almost instantly cause damage to the surface of the stone. If you have a marble table or countertop, make sure to clean up spills as soon as possible — even if it's just water — to prevent stains from forming.

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Avoid using harsh, abrasive brushes made from metal, wire, or steel wool, which will scratch the surface. Instead, use a soft sponge, toothbrush, or soft-bristle brush.

Tip

For an added safety measure, use coasters for cups and glasses to help prevent stains on your marble table.

How to Clean an Antique Marble Tabletop

Simple is usually best when it comes to cleaning marble. Use nonabrasive, pH-neutral dish soap or a nonionic detergent mixed with distilled water for an easy cleaning solution. Fill a 16-ounce spray bottle with water and add two to three drops of dish soap or a half teaspoon of nonionic detergent and mix together. Apply the solution to the tabletop and use a sponge, cloth, or soft-bristle brush to clean the marble.

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If your marble tabletop has deep, set-in stains that can't be removed using soap and water, you'll want to use a slightly more aggressive cleaner, like ammonia, to help lift the stains. Mix a cleaning solution using a few drops of ammonia diluted with water in a spray bottle and shake it up. Spray the cleaning mixture on the stain and use a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush to work out the stain. You can also make a mixture using 12 percent hydrogen peroxide and a few drops of ammonia for stains from foods or drinks, like coffee, wine, or even pet urine.

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If you're dealing with grease, oil, and oil-based stains, try using mineral spirits to remove these stains. Mix up a cleaner with equal parts water and white or mineral spirits in a 16-ounce spray bottle, add half a teaspoon of nonionic detergent, and shake it up. Start by spraying in a small area and work slowly using cotton swabs; replace the swab once it becomes dirty or you start a new section. You will need to shake up the mixture often and make sure to wear nitrile or plastic gloves for protection. For safety, keep the spray bottle lid on top of the mixture at all times.

No matter which method you choose, remove any remaining cleaning residue using water once your marble tabletop is clean. Wipe the surface dry with a lint-free cloth after cleaning. This helps prevent water marks from forming due to letting the tabletop air-dry.

Warning

Remember to always wear protective gloves and eyewear and to properly ventilate the room or wear a respirator when using chemicals like ammonia and 12 percent hydrogen peroxide.

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