How To Remove Common Stains And Scratches From Marble Surfaces

Owning a home with marble counters and floors can be quite a luxury, but it's also a big responsibility, especially when it comes to cleaning. When your marble gets stained, it can take away from the beauty. But there are ways to remove the stains as long as you know what you're doing. Here are some common household stains and how to get rid of them without ruining your marble.


Metal objects can rust quickly once exposed to water. And if you have metal flower pots, cans, or metal tools that sit out on your marble counter, you could be left with an unsightly orange-brown discoloration. Other metals like copper or bronze can leave behind a green or brown stain on your countertops.

Rust and other stains from metal need to be removed with a poultice, which is a paste with the consistency of peanut butter. It's made by mixing a special cleaner with a variety of substances like kaolin, powdered chalk, diatomaceous earth, and other products. The poultice is generally left on for a day or so and may need to be applied several times to completely remove the stain.

Poultices can be purchased or made at home, but the kind of cleaner you add will depend on the solid absorbent material used to make the poultice. Therefore, it's best to consult with a professional marble cleaner before attempting to make it at home.

Grease And Oil

If you have marble in your kitchen, more than likely it will be exposed to grease at some point. Grease and oil-based products like cooking oil, milk, cosmetics (lipstick and foundation), and fried foods can leave a yellow or dark stain on the marble. To remove oil and grease stains, use a mild liquid household cleaner, plain mineral spirits, or a poultice of mineral spirits and baking soda. 

Coffee And Wine

These are considered the "organic stains" and can also include tea, tobacco, food, leaves, and even animal droppings or urine. Most organic substances will stain your marble a pinkish-brown.

If the marble is located outside, rain will generally remove the stain over time. However, for indoor marble, organic stains can best be removed with a solution of hydrogen peroxide mixed with a few drops of ammonia. Because hydrogen peroxide comes in varying strengths from 3%-35%, it's best to ask a professional which one is best for your stone type.


Blue or black ink can stain marble on contact, and how you remove the offending agent will depend on the shade of the stone. There are various methods, but for light marble, try cleaning with liquid bleach or hydrogen peroxide. If your marble is dark, use acetone or lacquer thinner purchased from most any hardware store. If that doesn't work, try this method of alternating a pad soaked in alcohol with a pad soaked in ammonia.

Mildew And Algae

If you've noticed any sort of plant life growing on your marble, you've got a "biological stain." Mildew and other stains from algae, moss, lichens, and fungi tend to be green, blue, black, orange, or white and blotchy. Common places for these substances include outdoor tile that's regularly exposed to the elements or marbled bathrooms that have been neglected over the years.

Fortunately, this is one stain that should go away once the culprit is removed. To clean the marble, mix three parts bleach with one part water in a spray bottle, and add a few drops of dish soap. Mist the area to be cleaned and allow it to sit until the stain is gone. Be sure to rinse thoroughly with water once you're finished.

Scratches, Nicks, And Etch Marks

If your marble has been exposed to acid (fruit juice, alcohol, soda, lemon juice, coffee, etc.), it can leave etch marks along the surface, otherwise known as a dull finish. If you spill any acidic substance on the surface, it should be wiped up immediately, using the above procedures to remove stains as necessary. Then wet the surface with water and apply a small amount of marble polishing powder. Work the powder into the stone either manually with a soft, damp cloth or with a hand-held electric polisher. Continue with this process until the surface is shiny once again. 

For minor scratch marks and nicks in the surface, you can start by lightly buffing the surface with grade #000 steel wool, followed with a rinse and an application of marble polish. However, if the scratch doesn't go away or if it's too deep, you'll need to contact a professional like All American Stone & Tile Care Inc.