Natural stone features in your home, like granite countertops, marble flooring, travertine showers, and quartz tile offer a natural, earthy, and luxurious look. But that luxury comes with a little more maintenance than non-delicate stonework surfaces. Outdoor stonework, such as pool areas, outdoor kitchens, and even gravestones or memorial plaques need some special TLC, even when they’re sealed to the elements.
If it’s time to clean your delicate stonework, you might be wondering where to start. Should you use the same cleaning products you use on other surfaces? The answer is no! You’ll need a gentle, pH-balanced cleaner, because delicate stonework cannot hold up to most harsh cleaners.
If you’re starting to worry about how to clean stonework without damaging it, don’t worry. We have some tips and tricks for you below.
Tips to properly clean stonework
Whether you have delicate stone on your countertops, your floors, or outdoor surfaces, it requires special care to keep clean and shining. Follow these simple tips to make the process easier (and as gentle as possible):
- Make sure to purchase purified water for your cleaning project, so that you will avoid any mineral deposits on your stonework.
- Use a ¼ strength solution of a natural stone cleaner, like Charlie’s Indoor & Outdoor Surface Cleaner, and purified water. This cleaner is safe because it has the necessary pH-levels that will not strip the color or weaken your stonework.
- If cleaning outside, use a cleaner that is safe for plants and critters. For large outdoor stonework cleaning projects, Charlie’s Soap offers a larger 5-gallon version of our outdoor surface cleaner!
- Once your cleaner and water are mixed in a bucket, use a soft cloth or a soft brush to gently rub any stains or grime on your stonework.
- Allow the mixture to sit for 2 to 5 minutes.
- Rinse away all the mixture, dirt, and grime with water. This can be tap water or your purified water.
- Dry your stonework after rinsing with a microfiber towel to avoid any deposit remains.
Additional advice based on the type of stonework you’re cleaning
Not all stonework is created equal. Here are additional tips and tricks to help you clean delicate stonework — indoor or out.
Delicate stone countertops
Too much cleansing solution, even of a natural stone cleaner, on your stone countertops, can leave a film or cause streaks. That’s why it’s important to dilute your solution with purified water — and only use 1:4 strength solutions to water. If your countertops have grease or food build-up, gently scrub the solution with a non-scratch tool, like a soft bristle brush or microfiber rag. Always make sure to rinse thoroughly with just clean water afterward, and dry with a microfiber rag. If there are still dirty spots, repeat the process.
Bath and shower stone
Soap and grime can build up quickly in your tub and shower, leaving your stonework icky. To keep the shine in your shower, you’ll need to clean it regularly. We recommend keeping a squeegee in the shower to wipe it down after each use and using Charlie’s Natural Kitchen and Bath Household Cleaner 2 to 3 times a week to prevent soap scum build-up. If it’s been a while between maintenance cleaning sessions, make sure you use the same 1:4 strength cleaning ratio of Charlie’s Indoor & Outdoor Surface Cleaner and purified water. Scrub gently until the build-up begins to break down, and then rinse clean!
Sand, water, and dirt do quite a bit of damage on natural stone floors. To prevent damage between cleanings, an area rug in high traffic areas can help, as can frequent sweeping with a broom or dry mop. Even with the most upkeep, though, regular cleaning is important to keep your delicate stone floors clean.
At least once a week, dust-mop your stone floors with a dry dust mop (do not use spray mops, as those have harsh chemicals and can be abrasive). Then, use the ¼ strength solution with purified water in a bucket, and use a soft, microfiber wet mop to clean the floor. Rinse out the mop and bucket entirely when the water becomes too dark, and rinse with entirely clean water after washing the floor or area. Go back over the floor with a dry mop or towel, if possible, and make sure to let people know the floor is slippery!
Cleaning exterior stones might feel like a full-time job, but Charlie’s Soap can help you remove built-up mildew and water deposits and prevent future build-up from happening.
Before cleaning any outdoor stonework, consider its age. Just-lain bricks must be cleaned immediately to avoid stains, but they can usually take a bit more pressure than stone that is hundreds of years old. That means you may be able to pressure-wash them to remove potential staining. Gravestones, however, must be cleaned with the utmost caution (i.e. with a soft microfiber cloth) because they are often made of very porous stone that can age with sun, heat, cold, and moisture.
Another consideration is that stone changes color over time. This can happen naturally from different elements in the air and rain, or it can happen from a cleaning mishap. Make sure to never use a high pH cleaner to remove build-up, aggressive chemicals can alter the color of the stone even more. Plus, harsh cleaners can also harm plants that surround your stone.
When cleaning outdoor stonework, you may be tempted to use a power washer. This can work wonders on tough stone like concrete, and a good power wash can last a few years. However, a power washer can be too powerful for most delicate stonework. If you decide to go this route, make sure you’re cleaning a stone that is made to be power washed, and turn the water pressure level up slowly.
Stonework cleaning mistakes you’ll want to totally avoid — no matter what kind of stone you’re working with
Delicate stonework is just that: delicate. Make sure you’re avoiding these major pitfalls to clean delicate stonework properly.
- DON’T use acidic solutions on your stonework. It can strip color from your beautiful stone and can weaken it. Vinegar and lemon juice both are acidic and should NOT be used, especially on marble, limestone, travertine, or onyx surfaces.
- DON’T use bleach or ammonia! This will bleach the color of your stone, damage sealant, and possibly cause a negative chemical reaction.
- DON’T use rough brushes or scrubbers when cleaning with your soapy solution. This can scrape and tarnish your stonework.
- DON’T use any metal or plastic pieces when dusting or drying your stonework.
Clean stonework gently and effectively, with Charlie’s Soap
Cleaning delicate stonework might feel overwhelming, but just remember: gentle is best! Use environmentally safe products, purified water, and soft cleaning cloths. Your stonework will thank you, and so will your hands, the air, and any plants or greenery around your stonework. Shop our Charlie’s Indoor & Outdoor Surface Cleaner in a variety of sizes, so you can clean all the stonework in your home or for an outdoor cleaning project.