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How To Clean Marble Floors

High Gloss Marble Foyer

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Cleaning marble and travertine floors is not as complicated as some make it out to be. The article referenced below apparently has been composed by someone that truly has not much experience with cleaning marble and travertine floors. For purposes of this article we can forgo the composition of the stone.

The first major error in the article is where the instruct you to clean with a “non-abrasive industrial detergents.” True the stone cleaner should be non-abrasive but that is not the whole story. Improper routine maintenance in cleaning marble and travertine floors is the single greatest cause of marble and travertine degradation. More marble and travertine is damaged by improper care and maintenance than any other influencing factor, including stone quality. These maintenance oversights include:

Wet Mopping – Wet mopping is the single largest cause of “fill” loss, spalling (physical deterioration and pitting of the stone caused by water), and microbial growth (dark discoloration in pits, crevasses, and grout lines). Marble floors should NEVER be wet mopped with a string mop (or any other type, for that matter) – they should be swept frequently and thoroughly and damp-mopped with a sponge or microfiber mop, only.

Every time moisture penetrates the surface of your marble, it has both a physical and chemical affect on the stone – both are negative. Wet stone expands, drying stone contracts. Multiple cycles of expansion and contraction weaken both stone and fill areas, resulting in pitting and fill loss. Do you remember when your teacher called water the “universal solvent”? Enough said.

Use of Improper Cleaning Chemicals – I never cease to be amazed at the varied number and types of cleaning chemicals people (and their professional cleaning personnel) use on their marble floors. I’ve seen everything from vinegar and water (”that’s what my grandmother used”), to heavy-duty stone cleaners (”guy at the tile store said this was the strongest stuff they had”), and just about everything else in between. Recently we even had a client inform us that she read on the Internet that “cheap vodka” is a favored method of cleaning stone floors. WOW!

Rather than providing you a list of things you shouldn’t use in cleaning  travertine and marble floors (it’s a very large list), for the sake of brevity I give you the one solution you should use to routinely clean your travertine: a pH-neutral (-7), non-chelated cleaner specifically designed for natural stone. Nothing else. Ever. Period. (Yes, “nothing else” includes Swifters and Windex!) For those of you not familiar with chelates (pronounced kee’-lates), they are chemicals added to detergents and cleaners (including many routine stone cleaners) to “soften” the water by sequestering “hard water” minerals (such as calcium) from the detergent so it can clean more effectively. Sounds good, right? Wrong! Remember what your travertine is primarily composed of – calcium! Floors cleaned with chelated products look dull, drab, and lifeless. We highly recommend MB-1 Floor Cleaner.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

The article also suggests you may apply a thin layer of wax for maximum protection. This is some of the very worst advice you could follow. The article cited is replete with bad information and just a sample of the misinformation that is on the Internet. In addition if you were to apply a wax coating or topical sealer stripping it off can become very costly. If your travertine or marble floor cleaning process is not effective you are bound to require some level of resurfacing performed by a competent professional.