how do you clean your natural stone bathroom?

elle3February 20, 2011

We are in the beginning stages of planning a master bath reno. We are at least a year away, and we are taking our time deciding what we want.

We have seen many natural stone baths in the tile store displays (and on GW!) that we have fallen in love with, especially polished marble. One of the concerns I have is the upkeep of these stones. How do you keep your bathrooms "sanitary" clean? I worry about soap build-up, keeping grout lines clean, etc.

I know natural stones have been used forever--but would love to hear the experiences of current owners!

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We were strongly advised by our Marble/Granite supplier not to use marble as the vanity top in our master bath because it is soft and stains so easily. Powder room or guest bath- fine, heavily used master bath- not a good choice. The question they asked me that convinced me was "Does your husband ever leave the cap off the toothpaste? If your answer is yes, select granite for the master bath, not marble." I'm sure others may disagree, but I heard this advice in several places. Granite is easy to clean and doesn't stain with normal use.

We selected granite for the master and will be using beautiful marble in our downstairs powder room. Use a little granite cleaner and/or Non-Ammonia Windex.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 8:29AM
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collins design

I use hot water and neutral pH dish soap on my honed marble kitchen counters. I use a tile cleaner that specifically states it is "safe for natural stone" in my master shower (polished marble mosaic floor) and either soap/water or a neutral pH all-purpose cleaner on the polished quartzite vanity in my daughter's bath.

You want to avoid anything with citric acid or vinegar, which will etch. That eliminates a LOT of household cleaners.

Also, on a vanity top, make sure to seal it well with Porous Plus and keep resealing it periodically.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 11:58AM
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We used a mix of porcelain field tiles with natural stone border or accent tile in all 3 of our bathrooms. Two of the bathrooms have honed travertine floor tile, so it was imperative to us to find a disinfecting bathroom cleaner that is also natural stone-safe. Slim pickin's BTW, but I did find one. I've been using 7th Generation Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner for a few months now, and have been pretty happy with it (we go through it pretty quickly, so I wish a bottle lasted longer). I spray it on the walls, let it sit for a little while, and then wipe with a microfiber cloth (I usually spray a little more on the cloth to make sure the tile and grout lines have been "covered"). No need to rinse. I've used it on our cast iron tubs as well, but I have a few cans of Lysol Bathroom Cleaner (leftover from our pre-reno'd bathrooms), so have taken to using that on the tub and sink, being VERY careful not to drip on the travertine floor tile (in one of our bathrooms, the travertine seems to etch more easily than the other). The Lysol cleaner does cut through soap scum/mineral deposits (from our hard water) better, so requires a little less elbow grease on my part; the trade-off is the necessity to be hyper-vigilant about drips and over-spray.

We also use Mrs. Meyers Shower Spray (not a cleaner per se; it's something you spray on after you shower to cut down on build-up between cleanings). According to the people at Mrs. Meyers, this product is stone-safe, but their All Purpose Cleaner is not.

Note: stone-safe means safe for sealed stone, more on that in a bit.

Be careful using ANY toilet bowl cleaner, Lysol, or any of the so-called "natural" ones which use citric or other acids to clean the bowl (and are not necessarily disinfecting, BTW). Any of these can etch stone, so I am very careful to shake out the brush in/over the bowl to prevent drips on the floor(s). To clean the outside of the bowl, I've been using 7th Gen's disinfecting wipes which are stone safe. Chlorox Wipes are as well, but they seemed to leave more hazing on the surface after drying.

The key is to use good grout and a good penetrating (solvent-based) sealer. We used TEC XT grout, which is supposed to be more stain and crack resistant (than other cement-based grouts) and has mildew resistance built in.

I don't find our stone or our grout difficult to maintain. Finding a stone-safe cleaner that also disinfects took some sleuthing. Some have suggested using bleach and water (to clean/disinfect), but I have a bad history with bleach spotting so don't want to chance it.

FYI, I've been using a mixture of rubbing alcohol (isopropyl 70%), water, and a few drops of lavender essential oil on my granite counter tops (kitchen) and stainless steel, with great results, so thought I'd pass that along to you.

Good luck! Check out the bathroom forum for good bathroom ideas and planning. :-)

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 12:07PM
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Oh, for all our tiled floors (porcelain and travertine), we use Marbalex from SCI. We mix a cap-full or so in a bucket of hot water, and wash the floors with a sponge--no need to rinse.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 12:10PM
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our master bath is a mix of limestone, onyx & marble. The countertop and tub deck are polished marble slab. Honestly, we aren't very careful with them now (initally, when it was new, i was careful). wet washcloths sit there daily, we have 3 young kids that routinely use our bathroom, makeup is spilled, etc. ... and we use a dow scrubbing bubbles in the shower & on the countertop with no issues.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 3:39PM
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Thank you all for weighing in...and cat mom, thanks for the detailed product info. It will come in handy should we decide to opt for natural stone.

I was surprised to read on another thread that bleach was okay for marble.

I'm not sure what materials we will use, but I don't want to rule out something based on my assumptions.
I can see that we will have to be careful about grout choice in addition to tile choice.
Such helpful information!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 9:48PM
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I have travertine floors only in a small powder room and wipe them down with my homemade granite cleaner. I doubt that I'll use it in my bathroom remodels since I want a surface that I can easily disinfect.

catmom - I make my granite cleaner the same way, except I'm goingt to try a few drops of the essential oil. After buying my first spray bottle of expensive granite cleaner and reading the ingredients (alcohol and water) I started making my own for pennies.

Several years later I'm still refilling the same expensive bottle so everyone knows it's for the granite counters (not that anyone else is really wiping them down!).

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 2:01AM
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Can someone tell me, what is the ratio of alcohol to water in the granite cleaner? And where do you buy the essential oils? Thank you.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 10:28AM
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I use anywhere from 30-50% alcohol to water (proportion ends up changing as I refill or top-off the spray bottle), but a Dr at the EPA I'd spoken with said as little as 10% alcohol will kill germs. I pretty much go by smell (too much alcohol can be a bit harsh on the breathing, but I like it to have a "presence" as far as alcohol smell goes), and evaporation--too slowly or too quickly with regards to cleaning ability and/or streaking. Same goes for the lavender oil, has to "smell" right to me.

I get lavender essential oil (regular, not the organic which is even pricier) at Mrs. Green's near us; you can check a health food store, or other places like that, that might carry essential oils. A very small bottle still costs ~$10+ but lasts quite awhile. Depending on the size of your spray bottle, add anywhere from 10-20 drops of the oil. I like a noticeable, but subtle lavender scent--too strong and I'd gag. Let your nose be your guide. :-)

FWIW, as I'd mentioned, I use Mrs. Meyer's Shower Cleaner as an after-shower spray, and that level of scent is around the level of (to slightly stronger than) my mixture.

(I like to use the empty Mrs. Meyers bottles as spray bottles--nice sprayer and they retain their lavender scent, too!)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 11:34AM
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Thank you Cat Mom!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 5:31PM
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You're welcome!!! :-)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 8:00PM
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I have marble tile flooring in my master bath. I must have accidentally dripped the toilet bowl brush,now there's a water spot on the floor that doesn't come off.....buuuuuuuuuuuuuut......I LOVE it! I used porcelain tile that looks like travertine for the counter.....because I'd also heard not to use it for counters.......but if I could do it again....I'd use it on the counters.....go for it!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 9:03PM
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We have marble tiles on our countertop and shower, travertine on the bathroom floor. I wipe the countertop and floor down w/a damp microfiber cloth, Softscrub in the shower. The marble has been a good choice for us. I've spilled hair color on it w/out staining.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 9:41PM
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nicole__ someone over in kitchens had posted awhile back re: a method to remove etches utilizing a green scrub sponge and marble (or other stone) cleaner. I tried it on some of the etch marks on our travertine tile in our guest bathroom (using the scrubbie with and without any cleaner) and I am happy to report that I was able to remove or at least diminish most of the marks. Oh happy day!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 9:45PM
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cat_mom....I'm worried I'll scratch the "very" shiny surface....? But I guess I have nothing to lose....right..? :0) Thx!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 11:10AM
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My travertine is honed. Also, there was nothing to lose--there were large etch marks from TB cleaner bottle, and from a bucket that had bathroom cleaner on the underside. The marks looked pretty bad.

The OP might have recommended this for honed marble/stone. I don't know if this "trick" would scratch your marble or not. You probably would want to try it on a sample piece of your marble or in an out of the way spot as a test first.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 4:23PM
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I keep wondering why no one else has answered, "on my hands and knees" because that's how I clean mine.

I curse my marble floor every cleaning day - although it is beautiful - because it basically has to be cleaned with purified angel's tears and I can't find them in my local cleaning section.

I may just have to have some Mrs. Meyer's daily shower cleaner shipped in to cut down on the shower scrubbing...on the floor I use Simple Green stone cleaner.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 7:13PM
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do not use bleach to clean marble... my understanding is it's not ok!!!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 7:43PM
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Thanks for the laugh about "purified angel's tears"!
I'm really leaning towards marble in the shower area...I did some internet research and read that a diluted bleach solution is okay. I'm not sure what think!

I printed out catmom's reply (THANK YOU!)with all the product names in case we decide to go with natural stone.

Went tile looking again today and saw some pretty porcelains, which I know are much less maintenance. Nothing is "set in stone" LOL:)

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 7:55PM
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I am very glad to have helped! :-)

Oh, I thought I had written what we use on the tile floors, but can't seem to find where I wrote it, so maybe I'm imagining I wrote it after all! On all our tile floors (travertine and porcelain), I use Marbalex (from SCI). I pour about 1-2 capfuls in a bucket, and then add hot water (about 1/3-1/2-way full). I use a sponge mop--no rinsing necessary.

Let us know what you choose (and show pics!).

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 10:07PM
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