Lenny Pellegrino, stone restorer and owner of San Diego-based Pellegrino Stone Care, offers the following tips for tough stains in stone.
Stains from vegetable oils, olive oils and butters can often be removed by creating a simple poultice or paste. Mix baking soda with acetone into a paste and place it on the stained area. Allow the paste to sit for 24 hours before removing and rinsing with water. Repeat as necessary. Re-seal stone after the stain is removed. Pellegrino recommends testing the poultice in an inconspicuous area before applying throughout to make sure it won’t harm the stone.
Clean up stains from food, pets or mold and mildew with this tip: Take a paper towel or terry cloth towel soaked in liquid bleach and place it on the stained area. Allow to sit for 24 hours and rinse with water. Repeat if necessary. You may also spray bleach on stained areas and scrub the area with a soft nylon brush then rinse with water. Bleach does not harm natural stone as long as it is rinsed each time and sealed properly.
Pour a bit of 3 or 4 percent hydrogen peroxide on the rusted area and agitated with a sponge or cloth. Allow the area to stand for 24 hours before rinsing with water. Many rust stains may have to be removed by a professional.
Stone in the Bath
Water, soaps and cosmetics can harm stone surfaces over time, but there are a few easy tricks that will keep your bathroom counters and floors sparkling like new. Upon installation, apply a penetrating sealer to stone vanity top surfaces, backsplashes, floors and shower surrounds to protect it from soaps, colorful makeup products and oily lotions that can spot or discolor stone. Some sealers need to be reapplied every couple of years to maintain their effectiveness, so check the label or discuss with your stone installer. Marble vanity tops should be treated with a non-yellowing marble wax to help reduce water spotting.
To clean, use a damp rag to wipe up spills as soon as they happen in an effort to keep any bath products from setting into the stone. There are plenty of pH-neutral sprays, wipes and eco-friendly cleaners on the market that are specially formulated for granite, travertine, slate and marble surfaces, according to Jennifer Manocchio, spokesperson for Weiman Products, a maker of specialty stone cleaners in Gurnee, Ill. In the shower, you can remove soap scum from stone walls and floors by using a non-acidic soap scum remover, such as one by Weiman Products, or a homemade solution of ammonia and water (1/2 cup ammonia to one gallon of water) washed on with a soft cloth or sponge. The repeated use of ammonia, however, may dull the surface of the stone over time and could prompt a bit of polishing to rejuvenate the surface.
Cleaning Exterior Stone
Outside, stone is exposed to natural elements and traffic. Stone pavers can be a worry-free surface if you spend a bit of time to seal them with a heavy-duty outdoor stone sealer. Regular sweeping will keep them clean, but if a deeper scouring is needed, just scrub with a mild detergent and a bristle brush. Sometimes mold, moss or mildew builds up on exterior walls clad in stone, on stone pavers or near water features accented with stone. To wash away these organic materials, simply scrub them with a mild bleach solution and a bristle brush. Follow up with some fresh water.
Although stone can demand a bit more maintenance than other household surfaces, keeping stone clean and sealed can ensure years of beauty and durability.