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Cleaning Marble Countertops

Posted by lizg_inmd (My Page) on
Sun, Apr 19, 09 at 23:21

I've read a lot of posts about marble countertops, and I know a lot of people have them and love them, and I think we are next in line :) We've been looking around and I think we've found our slabs of white carrara. They are beautiful, with a white background and grey veins and actually have some subtle gold veining in them ... almost Calacutta like. Anyway, my question is not so much about how to deal with stains that may happen but more about how people clean them on a day to day basis. I am hoping some GW'ers who have the honed marble countertops will share how they do their daily cleaning of them, specifically, what products do you use? Also, do you have to wipe them dry every time after you clean them or is that just a myth?

Thanks so much!

Liz


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

Also, if I could post a follow-up, do you find yourself being extra careful with the marble or do you just live with it and enjoy it? I'm a bit afraid that I would be inclined to "baby it" so much that I wouldn't get the full functionality that caused me to plan this whole kitchen remodel in the first place.


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

I have carrara, and I don't use any chemicals on my marble countertop, just a clean, wet cloth.

I did baby them at first, but soon realized how silly and, as you point out, counter-productive it was. I'm still careful with them, but I'm being careful with everything in my kitchen at the moment because it's all brand-new ... sort of like parking your new car far away from all the other cars? That only lasts so long. =)

Have you brought home a sample of the honed carrara to see what it looks like when it etches? I only ask because I recently read a post from someone else on the forum who was unhappy with the etching on her marble countertops. She mistakenly thought that honing would prevent etching.

Good luck!

Erika


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

I have white statuary marble...pretty much as unfriendly as you can get with regard to staining etc.

First of all, i don;t clean it with anything except a sponse and some soapy water.

Upon installation i did apply a sealer that the fabricator recommended...and was expensive too. I did it a few more times afterward - every few months ... UNTIL one day I read the label and it occurred to me that I was spending tons of money on all organic food for my kids and then literally coating the counters where they ate with harsh, toxic chemicals. So then I stopped and never sealed them again. A product which requires you to open all the wondows, wear a mask to apply and gloves on your hands can;t be good for mixing with young children's food.

My counters do have etching and I consider myself very careful with them. i am not thrilled about it - but I have learned to live with it - what else can I do? I have black cabinets and wanted white marble counters - I could not find anything else that replicated the look I wanted - kept going back to the marble. If I had to do it over again would I get the same thing - probably - because I love how it looks and in my opinion any of the imitations looked like just that...and since i wanted white and loved the veining this was the way to go. Do I miss my black absolute granite that was nearly industructible? You bet, but that just wasn't an option in this kitchen. One thing that helps is that I have a 7 foot long stainless steel work table as an island in my kitchen - so when ever I am doing a particularly messy or destructive art project etc with my kids I use that counter and then don;t have to worry about the marble.

I have had my counters for 3 years now - I probably notice the marks more than anyone - the ones that annoy me the most are the few that look like (and are) exact rings from the bottom of a cup....oil etc. But like I siad I probably notice them more than anyone....you can see pics of my kitchen below in a post about whether to paint cabinets white or gray ... look down about twenty or so posts.

good luck--


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

Thanks for both of your thoughts. ErikaNH, I have brought home a couple of different samples but they were both polished, and I am not happy with the etching I am seeing on them, but I have heard that honed etches less. Cosmomilkshake, I love the statuary marble too, although leaning more toward carrara. I am just conflicted because I haven't found anything else that has that look, and I really don't like the look of granite. I actually thought about stainless steel but don't want to give my whole kitchen that "industrial" look. I might use it for one piece, though my contractor has told me he has never used it and basically I am on my own with the stainless steel part if I want that ((sigh)). When you say you clean it with soapy water, do you mean dish soap like Dawn or Joy? Thanks again,
Liz


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

yes, i just put a squirt of whatever dish soap i am using on a wet sponge and wipe away - i use an all natural dish soap from trader joes


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

I am also getting honed carrara marble and am a little apprehensive about it. But it's true--there's nothing else like it. All my inspiration pictures feature marble countertops, so I'm just going to go for it! I get so excited when I see kitchens with marble countertops posted here--they are just gorgeous!

A couple of posters have recommended the 511 impregnator or sealant that is available from HD. A word of caution: Someone mentioned in another post that you have to be careful not to use a natural citrus-based dish soap like Ecover (which I currently use) because it will cause etching. Cosmomilkshake, do you have the name of that all natural dish soap from Trader Joes? I may have to stock up on that (though I'm really going to miss that clean fresh citrus scent!).


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

lizg, the honed marble will etch just as much as the polished, but because it's not as shiny, the etching doesn't show as much. If there's any way you could get a honed sample, that would really help you see the difference.

I used the 511 Impreganator from Home Depot. It keeps anything from soaking into the marble and staining it, but it does not prevent etching.

My contractor also left me on my own to find a stainless steel fabricator, and luckily I found a great one. It was much, much more expensive than the marble, but I have stainless steel on my entire cooktop wall, and I adore being able to set hot pans and baking sheets right on it. It's got lots of little scratches already but it still looks shiny and beautiful.

Good luck!

Erika


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

My honed Carrara counters have been in for about a year and a half. Love them, etches and all. Many etches -- I mean, patina.

Plain old dish soap from the sink dispenser (whatever's on sale, just nothing made with citrus) on a wet microfiber, wrung out really well so I don't have to dry, that's all it takes to keep my counters clean.

I was VERY careful at first, but life happens in the kitchen and I got etch marks right away. No matter how fastidious you intend to be, accidents happen all the time. Fairly quickly I decided that I'd waited so long for marble in my kitchen (it's everywhere, perimeter and island, and we cook at it and eat on it daily) that I was no longer going to spoil my own pleasure with worry.

Just be deeply honest with yourself. If you are, you won't be disappointed.


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

We are very interested in installing Carrara marble counters in our new kitchen. Are there any stronger products that can be used on it to disinfect it besides soap and water?


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

@oofasis, that is very helpful. Do you happen to have any pictures of your countertops or island? I would love to see how bad or not bad it really looks with the "etching." (patina, I like that!) I'm not sure I know what a microfiber is, is it a special kind of towel and if so, where can you get them? Sorry to ask a stupid question, I have always used just a regular dish towel up until now. Also, do you find yourself constantly wiping up right away or can it wait until after dinner and tv watching? That is one of the things I am most worried about, because I'm not really a clean up right away kind of person. Thanks!


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

6 months of using our honed calcatta gold counters. First few weeks I felt great personal pain every time I saw a new etch. Now, they are everywhere and I'd fine with it.

erikanh is right on the money with the car comment. A friend of mine says that the first thing you should do when you buy a new car is to throw a glass of grape juice on the back seat, so you can get over it and move forward. Same with the counter: throw a few lemons around and realize that the etching is inevitable, and not a problem.

The etches are numerous, but only visible when you lean over and catch the light reflecting at just the right angle. Most visitors can't even find the etching unless I show them exactly where to stand and look to see it.

It is still a gorgeous counter and I cannot begin to imagine using anything else. Compared to granite, solid surface, etc, it's warm, calming, soft to the touch, "organic" in a way no other material is for me. Understated, elegant, the Audrey Hepburn of counter materials.

PS: we use spray stone cleaners, like the 409 stone and marble cleaner, when there is a mess to deal with, or a damp cloth for easy stuff. We don't obsessively wipe up immediately and after using 511 impregnator, have still not had any significant staining. Thought I was going to get some a few nights ago after roasting fresh beets, but the small pink area left after I cleaned up had mysteriously disappeared by the next morning. So, with good sealing, I don't think the risk of staining is great enough to demand immediate wipeups.

Microfiber is a type of cloth that has microscopic fibers that trap dirt on contact. They are very popular, for example, for cleaning and waxing cars, and are also quite useful for wiping up counters. Search microfiber on this forum for more info.

Finally, I find it's almost impossible to photograph etching, as the lighting rarely works to show it on a photo.


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

lizg, your post made me smile because you sound like me ... I'm not always a "clean up right away person" either. I often forego that task to spend some time with my daughter before bedtime, and there are times the cleaning has to wait till morning. I've had spills sit on my countertop overnight but thanks to 511 Impregantor, no stains.

clinresga is right. I tried to take some close-ups of my etch marks, but they don't show up in the photos. No one notices them but me, but in this new kitchen I notice everything: every crumb, every fingerprint and every tiny nick on my new cabinets. I know for sure this hyper-awareness will wear off soon enough.

Maybe you can ask your installer if they've done any other marble kitchens. The owners may be more than happy to let you come and look at their countertops.

Good luck!

Erika


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

Yes, it's really very hard to capture etch marks in photographs. Clinresga got it right: visible when you lean over and catch the light reflecting at just the right angle. Most visitors can't even find the etching unless I show them exactly where to stand and look to see it.. I'd describe etching as almost a kind of shadowing, but I realize that's not terriby helpful. They're colorless and aren't really visible except at angles and with the light reflecting "just so." Take home a good chunk of a honed piece, seal it with 511 Impregnator (spray lightly from a bottle and wipe off), and then try exposing the piece to lemon or orange or vinegar or salad dressing. That'll show you what etch marks look like.

If you've sealed the marble well, you really won't have to worry about staining. I've found tomato sauce that dried on my counters days before, and no stains. But, no matter how quickly you wipe up after contact with citric or acid, you'll get an etch mark.


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

Thanks for all the responses.
That is good to hear about the etching not really being noticeable by most people. My big fear has been that the overall beauty of the stone will be marred and end up not looking good. I am not the kind to obsess about every little scratch and ding, with other surfaces in the house such as wood floors, so I don't think a subtle change to the marble which doesn't affect its beauty as a surface will bother me too much. If it doesn't show up in a photo, it can't really be that bad, can it?!
@clinresga: I like your comment about Audrey Hepburn. I agree, although I was thinking of Sophia Loren :) Is the 409 stone cleaner an offshoot of Formula 409? Can you find it at Home Depot or Lowe's, or would I need to order it online? And thanks for the explanation about microfiber.
@erikanh, it's nice to know I'm not the only one! I tend to clean up "later," after dinner and relaxation time and yes, sometimes the next morning :) Unfortunately, my contractor has not done any other marble -- he said he'd be happy to do it, but it would be his first time with it, although he's done lots of granite so hopefully the process is much the same. The place we bought it from will template and fabricate it for us.
@oofasis, thanks for describing etching so well. I appreciate that, as it helps me to visualize it. All the samples I've gotten have been polished for some reason, so I haven't been able to test the sealing process in that way as I've wanted to.
All who answered, I do have another question about sealing. Up until now I had heard mostly about sealing with either Miracle 511 or Stonetech Bulletproof Sealer. Now I'm hearing more about an impregnator. Can anyone explain what the difference is between a sealer and an impregnator? What is the advantage of an impregnator?

Thanks so much!


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

We were getting the 409at local Publix or Target I believe but now am finding it harder to locate. I've just ordered a gallon of Mira Clean #1 (the daily cleaner from the makers of Miracle 511 Impregnator--see below) from Ebay for about $30 including shipping. Given the roughly 50:1 recommended dilution, at $30 for 50 gallons of cleaner, I should be in good shape for a long time.

BTW: Miracle 511 is the same thing as Impregnator in most cases. The Miracle corporation makes both the 511 Impregnator, and 511 Porous Plus. The former is the brand name for their standard sealer. The latter is supposed to be even more protective especially for very porous stone, but Bill Vincent on this forum, among others, says that it's not needed for honed marble and that the impregnator is fine. Impregnator is quite a bit cheaper.

I used Porous Plus because it's what I had and for me the cost increase is minor versus the hassle of applying the sealer. Folks appear to have done well with both products, and the Miracle product line appears to be a good one. I get both products from Arc Stone Tile and Stone's Ebay storefront, which sells them at enough of a discount to compensate for the shipping charges.

Hope we've sold you on marble. There's no comparison!


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

Thanks, clinresga! I am 98.5% sure I am going to order the marble (I am the type to mull everything over quite a bit before acting when it comes to big decisions like this). It is just so beautiful and from what I'm hearing on this forum and elsewhere, it does get etched but the etching does not at all ruin the beauty of it. I am going to ask what the fabricator uses to seal and probably request that they seal it with Porous Plus since I have heard such great things about it. I don't mind paying a little more in the scheme of things to get good protection. Thanks so much for all the information! I'll let you know what I end up doing and, once I figure out how, I'll post pictures.

Liz


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

I love clinresga's description of marble: "understated, elegant, the Audrey Hepburn of counter materials." You really nailed it! I have a few more weeks until my carrara is installed. I can hardly wait.

My fabricator uses Bellinzoni Super Seal. Has anyone used this or heard anything about it? I've heard such great things about the 511 products on this website, but I worry that different products applied to the marble may cause a bad reaction.


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

madlizard, if you do decide you would prefer to use 511 Impregnator because of its good reputation and because it's readily available from Home Depot for the future, you can do what I did. My installer used a sealer that I'd never heard of and that did not work at all ... water soaked right into my marble. Following the advice from several people on the forum, I removed it with mineral spirits and resealed with Impregnator.

Alternatively, you could ask your fabricator if he would object to sealing it with the sealer that you'll provide. They don't seal the countertop until after it's installed.


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

I just wanted to post that I googled the 409 cleaner and found out that you can get it at ace hardware AND they are having a promotion where you can ship it to your local ace hardware store for pickup for free right now. The 32 oz. bottle is selling for $3.99. Hope this may help someone!

Try this link:
http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3281969&CAWELAID=237251202


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

My fabricator used 511 and sealed it before installation. I then resealed it twice before actually using it. We have no stains thus far, but do have the inevitable etching. I have been using the marble since Oct., and have been careful but not manic about it. I wash it with a soapy cloth, use a barrier with acidic liquids like milk, or tomato juice, and use common sense with the kids school projects. I love it and feel it lends a warm touch to the kitchen.


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Lucypwd, it kind of scares me to hear that you have to use a barrier with things like milk! Do you feel like you are just doing it out of abundance of caution, or do you have some bad experience when not doing it? Just trying to allay my fears :)

Liz


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

LOL, I didn't realize milk was acidic! We made strawberry ice cream last week and put too much into the ice cream maker and it overflowed onto the countertop. It sat there for a while too. I didn't notice any etching, but like I mentioned before, you really have to be looking at the right angle under bright light to see them.


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

FWIW, a number of online sources quote the pH of fresh cows' milk at 6.7, which is very close to completely neutral, not appreciably acidic. I'd be very surprised if milk etched marble. A grapefruit sorbet might be a very different situation.


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

I have one more question. First of all, I ordered the marble today and am way excited!!! My question is about coverage for the sealer. The quart of porous plus says it will cover 500-2000 sq feet. That sounds like it will be more than plenty, for my 35 sq feet of countertops, (even applying it 2 or 3 times, which I plan to do). I just wanted a reality check since the container looks so small. Is that plenty of sealer for me? Thanks so much!

Liz


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

Yes, it is plenty. My installer gave me about 8 ounces in an empty water bottle 2-1/2 years ago and I have more than half of it. I have only gone over the counters once or twice and a little spot resealing, but you get the idea.....


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

Yes, I use place mats out of an abundance of caution. I don't know why I thought that milk was acidic. I guess it is technically slightly acidic. At any rate, still love the marble.


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

Liz, you might ask your marble dealer if they will make you a cutting board from your leftover pieces. Mine made one for free and I paid for another. It is nice to have them. I leave them out on the marble counter, but they are still the same marble and don't detract. Be careful with certain "grease" cutting dish soaps. I got some spots (got them out with a poultice) and switched to a milder dish soap with better results.


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

Hi,

Anyone needing cosmetic , or re- honing of stone. Please let us know. Alan's Marble & Granite 512-275-6306

All honed Marble must be honed and sealed. ANYTHING with acids , including orange juice, wine, anything of color, even water will stain all marble.
When marble is honed the process is taking the finish from the quarry off the stone down to 300-500 diamond grit.

Search Poultice for stain removals


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RE: Cleaning Marble Countertops

Thanks, lascatx. I ordered a quart from the Miracle company. The fabricator is coming to measure on Wednesday and install next Wednesday :) Birdsong, I would be kind of worried for my knives using a marble cutting board! Maybe I could take up sculpting, though ;) Just curious, what soap do you use on your counters now?

Thx,

Liz


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