How to Clean a Marble Mantel

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    If you are lucky enough to live with a marble mantel or two, you may be wondering how to spruce up a dingy one or maintain one in good condition. The answer is the same for both and, luckily, all that is required is soap and water.

    First, do no harm — always a good rule to follow in restoration, particularly when cleaning stone surfaces. Faced with a filthy marble mantel, you may be tempted to start with the strongest cleaner first or that household cleaning staple, vinegar.

    But vinegar is too acidic and could permanently mar the surface; the same goes for lemon juice.

    marble cleaning

    A simple (and inexpensive) conservator-recommended method should be your starting point. Supplies you will need: some soft cloths, a bucket, water and regular Ivory Dish Soap. That’s all. A stone restoration expert we consulted recommends Ivory as an appropriately mild soap, and a little bit will go a long way.

    Dilute just a few drops of soap in a bucket of warm water; you don’t want it too soapy. Dip a soft cloth into the solution so the cloth is just damp, not soaking wet. Gently wipe down the marble, working in small sections to clean away the dirt. While you may need to use some elbow grease for some tough spots, as long as you use a soft cloth it won’t harm the marble. If you use too much water, just make sure to wipe up the excess with another soft cloth.

    cleaning marble

    Working slowly and carefully, you should be able to remove several layers of dust and dirt. Add the dish soap method to your regular maintenance and the next cleaning shouldn’t take quite as long.

    Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared in the Fall/Winter 2017/18 issue of Brownstoner magazine.

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