How to clean natural stone in the house

Teresa González Díez (teresa.litosweb@gmail.com)

There are few people who would not like to have in their house some corner where natural stone is the main protagonist: a staircase, the floor of a living room, a chimney, the corner of the barbecue, or, more commonly, the counter-tops of a bathroom and the kitchen.

The main doubt that one often has, before installing stone in our house, is not, as many tend to think, its cost, but: how to clean it?

We will try here to be as complete as possible in telling how to do it.

First we will give "homely" solutions, those which are within our reach, among those products which we habitually use in the house for cleaning.

In a future article we will propose more specialised products, which have been elaborated exclusively for the purpose of cleaning of natural stone in the most efficient manner possible and which does not damage or alter the polish, the colour, and the texture.

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Home solutions

The best way to clean natural stone, be it granite, marble, sandstone, or slate, is water with some PH neutral soap, like the one used in dishwashers.

We can also do it with water and a small amount of ammonia or water with a small amount of bleach, but ammonia is better, because it is not an acidic product, but a base and does less damage to stone.

What we should not do, never, is to mix ammonia and bleach, this mixture generates vapours that can be mortal when inhaled.

Cleaning should be done using a sponge, a soft cloth or a very soft brush to avoid that the surface is scratched and is done making circles. Later one must clean very well and dry the surface soon with a soft towel. If we leave it to dry by itself, then whitish spots without shine will be left.

Fats: Not only does the counter-top of our kitchen gets dirtied, but also the barbecues and the floors of those places where we are used to eating in our house, or where we have placed a decorative candle, or where there are cosmetic products which leave their mark.

The barbecue and the surrounding floor tend to be of untreated stone, unpolished surface and can be very porous. An effective remedy is the talcum powder. We apply a good quantity of them on top of the dirty spots covering them and leave them to react during some days. The more, the better. If, on retiring the talcum powder not all of the dirt has been removed, then the process must be repeated.

Another remedy is to mix sodium bicarbonate and a little of water, cover and leave it to act.

Rust:The dirty spots that remain because some metal has oxidised in contact with stone, are cleaned with a mixture of lemon juice and salt.

One must take into account that lemon is acidic, so it must be left for a short period of time to act, since it can take the shine off the stone. One must clean it with a lot of water and leave it to dry. If the stone in question is a limestone or polished marble, the shine could be lost.

Organics: These are spots that are left by food items, coffee, decomposed leaves, and lichen, etc.

The most efficient way, if we have not succeeding in cleaning, as we mentioned in the beginning, with water and detergent or ammonia or bleach, is a solution of hydrogenperoxide and some drops of ammoniaand let it act.

Paint and inks:These spots are more complicated to deal with. Both are cleaned with solvents or removers of layers of paint: there are several types, the most common are methylene chloride or mineral alcohol. Take care with methylene chloride, it is dangerous.

For the inks we can also try out with water and bleach, in clear coloured stones or with acetonein the case of dark coloured stones.

These substances are very aggressive which means they must be used with great care.

Extremely dirty floors: When the floors are very dirty, especially in the case of marble, they can be scrubbed once in a while, with half a bucket of water added with the contents of oxygenated water of 300 cc.

 

Homely tricks for bringing out the shine

1.- A good doses of salt and rub with a wet cloth. Clean well and dry rubbing with another dry and soft piece of cloth.

2.- With self-shining wax or extra-virgin wax. Scrub later when it is dry.

3.- Wet a mop with gasoline. Scrub and let dry.

4.- With aerosol products for cleaning of wood. It normally contains waxes.

5.- With glass cleaners.

6.- For black stones one can use black shoe polish.

Applying layers of wax to the pieces of natural stone serves, apart from giving shine, to seal the pores a little. But when several layers of wax are added, one above another, a yellow appearance can appear, especially in the clear coloured stones.

To avoid this one needs to take off these excessive layers of wax with a special product for this purpose, a wax remover, scrub with water and a neutral soap and wax the surface once again.

CONCLUSION

There are no excuses left. If you like natural stone, choose one which you fancy. You have before you a world of colours and varieties available. Surely you will find one you like. Decorate your house without any fear and feel the satisfaction of observing a piece of Nature inside your home.