How to Clean Stained Marble

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Dear Home-Ec 101,

We just bought a house, and the fireplace is surrounded by marble. It may be faux marble since most things in the house are builder-grade materials. Anyway, the marble surround is stained. There are blotches of yellow above and Kool-aid type stains on the hearth.

Any suggestions on how to clean the marble or faux marble?

BKF maybe? [*Heather notes BKF = Bar Keepers Friend and BKF is NOT recommended for marble]

Stained in Stuttgart
Heather says:

As I noted in the question above, Bar Keepers Friend is NOT recommended for use on marble or cultured marble.

Marble is a soft stone and acids, like BKF, actually dissolve the stone. Does this mean if you use an acidic cleanser that your marble surface will immediately crumble away into a pile marble dust? No, it just means that you are slightly damaging the surface and over time this will show. Think about statues damaged by acid rain, same concept just on your fireplace mantle. Bar Keepers Friend would work to remove the stain, but it would be at the cost of damaging the finish of the marble.

Have you tried commercial marble cleaners? Yellowing of white marble is often a symptom of marble that has been cleaned improperly. Give a commercial cleaner and polish a try before moving on the method I recommend for the red stains on the hearth.

The Michigan University Extension recommends making a poultice with hydrogen peroxide -hair bleaching strength- and household ammonia. I recommend this technique for the Kool-aid or fruit juice stains that are on the hearth. Keep in mind that the peroxide IS a weak acid, it has a pH of 6.2, but compare that to distilled vinegar which has a pH around 2.4. (Remember that the pH scale is similar to a Richter scale in that it is logarithmic, there is a BIG difference between these numbers).

Good luck and let me know know if works for you.

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1 thought on “How to Clean Stained Marble”

  1. I have a marble fireplace myself, and I have never, and when I say never I mean it: NEVER have any issues with it. I recommend the use of 12 M CH3COOH, or acetic acid for those of you out there who don’t know anything.


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