Helpful Care & Cleaning Info/Tips

Natural stone can be classified into two general categories according to its composi­tion: siliceous stone or calcareous stone. Knowing the difference is critical when selecting cleaning products. Siliceous stone is composed mainly of silica or quartz-like particles. It tends to be very durable and relatively easy to clean with mild cleaning solutions and or approved stone cleaners. Types of siliceous stone include granite, slate, sand­stone, quartzite, dolomite, brownstone and bluestone. Many stones are quarried through­out the world in a variety of colors with varying mineral compositions. In most cases, your stone can be identified by visible particles at the surface of the stone. Each type of stone is unique and will vary in color, texture, hue and marking.

Clean your stone surface with a neutral cleaner, stone soap or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent and warm water. Use a clean rag and or a soft cloth for best results. Too much cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks or residue. Rinse the surface thoroughly after washing with the soap solution and dry with a soft cloth. Do not use acidic cleaners and or scouring powders or creams; these products contain abrasives that may scratch the stone. If you should get sand, abrasive dirt or grit on your counters, be sure to either vacuum or dry dust off prior to using a cleaner. Sand, dirt and grit do the most damage to natural stone surfaces due to their abrasiveness.

You may use coasters under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices. Many common foods and drinks contain acids that will etch or dull the surface of many stones, however, they will not affect the surface of a true granite or 100 percent quartzite. Do not place hot items directly on the stone surface. Use trivets or mats under hot dishes and placemats under china, ceramics, silver or other objects that can scratch the surface. Cutting should be done on a cutting board.

Your stone counters supplied by Ohio Tile and Marble have been sealed at our facility with an industry approved impregnator/penetrating sealer. We do recommend in food preparation areas as well as sink areas, to re-apply another coat of sealer after 2 to 3 years. If you have any questions, please check with an Ohio Tile and Marble sales representative.

Identifying the type of stain on the stone surface is the key to removing it. If you don’t know what caused the stain, play detective. Where is the stain located? Is it near a plant, a food service area, an area where cosmetics are used? What color is it? What is the shape or pattern? What goes on in the area around the stain? Surface stains can often be removed by cleaning with an appropriate cleaning product or household chemical. Deep-seated or stubborn stains may require using a poultice or calling in a professional.

The following sections describe the types of stains that you may have to deal with and appropriate household chemicals to use and how to prepare and apply a poultice to remove the stain.


Oil-based (grease, tar, cooking oil, milk, cosmetics) An oil-based stain will darken the stone and normally must be chemically dissolved so the source of the stain can be flushed or rinsed away. Clean gently with a soft, liquid cleanser with bleach OR house­hold detergent OR ammonia OR mineral spirits OR acetone.


Organic (coffee, tea, fruit, tobacco, paper, food, urine, leaves, bark, bird droppings) May cause a pinkish-brown stain and may disappear after the source of the stain has been removed. Outdoors, with the sources removed, normal sun and rain action will generally bleach out the stains. Indoors, clean with 12% hydrogen peroxide (hair bleaching strength) and a few drops of ammonia.


Metal (iron, rust, copper, bronze) Iron or rust stains are orange to brown in color and follow the shape of the staining object such as nails, bolts, screws, cans, flower pots, metal furniture. Copper and bronze stains appear as green or muddy-brown and result from the action of moisture on nearby or embedded bronze, copper or brass items. Metal stains must be removed with a poul­tice. (See section on Making & Using a Poultice) Deep-seated, rusty stains are extremely difficult to remove and the stone may be permanently stained.


Biological (algae, mildew, lichens, moss, fungi) Clean with dilute (1/2 cup in a gallon of water) ammonia OR bleach OR hydrogen peroxide. DO NOT MIX BLEACH AND AMMONIA! THIS COMBINATION CREATES A TOXIC AND LETHAL GAS!


Ink (magic marker, pen, ink) Clean with bleach or hydrogen peroxide (light colored stone only!) or lacquer thinner or acetone (dark stones only!)


Paint Small amounts can be removed with lacquer thinner or scraped off carefully with a razor blade. Do not use acids or flame tools to strip paint from stone. Paint strippers can etch the surface of the stone; re-polishing may be necessary. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for use of these products, taking care to flush the area thoroughly with clean water. Protect yourself with rubber gloves and eye protection, and work in a well-ventilated area. Use only wood or plastic scrapers for removing the sludge and curdled paint. Normally, latex and acrylic paints will not cause staining. Oil-based paints, linseed oil, putty, caulks and sealants may cause oily stains. Refer to the section on oil-based stains.

Water Spots and Rings

Water Spots and Rings (surface accumula­tion of hard water) Buff with dry 0000 steel wool.

Fire and Smoke Damage

Fire and Smoke Damage Older stones and smoke or fire stained fireplaces may require a thorough cleaning to restore their original appearance. Commercially available “smoke removers” may save time and effort.

Etch Marks

Etch Marks are caused by acids left on the surface of the stone. Some materials will etch the finish but not leave a stain. Others will both etch and stain. Once the stain has been removed, wet the surface with clear water and sprinkle on marble polishing powder, available from a hardware or lapidary store, or your local stone dealer. Rub the powder onto the stone with a damp cloth or by using a buffing pad with a low-speed power drill. Continue buffing until the etch mark disappears and the marble sur­face shines. Contact your stone dealer or call a profes­sional stone restorer for refinishing or re-polishing etched areas that you cannot remove.


Efflorescence is a white powder that may appear on the surface of the stone, mainly around faucets. It is caused by water carrying mineral salts and evaporating. When the water evaporates, it leaves the powdery substance on the surface. Do not use water to remove the powder; it will only temporarily disappear. In many cases, this can be removed with a razor blade, however an approved hard water deposit cleaner may be needed.

Scratches and Nicks

Scratches and Nicks Slight surface scratches may be buffed with dry 0000 steel wool. Deeper scratches and nicks in the surface of the stone should be repaired and re-polished by a professional.

If you need further assistance on preparing a Poultice, please contact us.

Majority of the information provided in this memo was supplied by the Marble Institute of America