Natural stone flooring is a beautiful investment that can last for years to come. However, these floors require care and maintenance to look their best. Even the most cautious homeowners get the occasional accidental stain; knowing how to safely remove stains without damaging the stain can keep your floors looking beautiful.
Know your stone
Knowing the exact type, name, and origin of a stone can help homeowners ensure they are selecting the right cleaning solution for their specific stone. Natural stone can be divided into two general categories:
- Siliceous stone: Siliceous stone is composed of quartz-like silica particles. Siliceous stones are durable and can often be cleaned using mild acidic solutions. Examples of siliceous stone include granite, slate, sandstone, and bluestone.
- Calcareous stone: Calcareous stones are composed of calcium carbonate; this makes them extremely sensitive to acidic cleaning solutions. Examples of calcareous stone include travertine, marble, and limestone.
Cleaning dos and don’ts
When cleaning natural stone floors, there are a number of general dos and don’ts.
- DO blot, not wipe, spills
- DON’T use vinegar, lemon juice, or other acidic cleaners on calcareous stones such as marble, limestone, or travertine
- DO protect floors with area rugs or other non-slip mats
- DON’T use abrasive cleaners
- DO sweep and mop floors frequently with a microfiber cloth
- DON’T use a vacuum with worn wheels or attachments, which can scratch floors
Removing stains from natural stone
The following is a general guide for removing stains from natural stone floors. We recommend testing a small amount of a cleaning solution in an unnoticeable area before applying it to the rest of the floors; this can help reduce the risk of a cleaner damaging a large portion of the floor.
- Oil-based stains (grease, cooking oil, lipsticks, and other cosmetics): Oil-based stains typically cause stone to darken. Clean gently with a household detergent, ammonia, mineral spirits, or acetone to chemically dissolve the source of the stain.
- Organic stains (coffee, tea, food, or urine): Organic stains are often brownish-pink and tend to evaporate when the source of the stain has been removed. If possible, try exposing the area to direct sunlight to help evaporate the stain. In other cases, use 12% hydrogen peroxide mixed with a few drops of ammonia to effectively remove stains.
- Ink stains (markers, pens, and ink): Remove ink stains from light-colored stone using bleach or hydrogen peroxide. For darker stones, try lacquer thinner or hydrogen peroxide.
- Paint stains: Small amounts of paint can be carefully scraped off with a razor blade or removed using lacquer thinner. Large paint stains should be removed using commercial liquid paint stripper – but take care to never use acid or flame tools to strip paint from stone.