Regular maintenance is essential for preserving the enduring beauty and functionality of marble countertops. Beyond surface cleaning, you can increase the life span of your marble by consistently applying sealant. 

To clean and remove the most common stains from marble, follow these tips from DeluxeMaid.

Basic Cleaning

Marble countertops should be cleaned regularly with a gentle, pH-neutral cleaner to prevent buildup. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbing pads that could scratch the surface.

For routine cleaning:

  • Mix a mild dish soap with warm water in a spray bottle. Avoid soap with added moisturizers, which can leave a film.
  • Spray the marble and wipe it down with a soft, damp microfiber cloth.
  • Rinse with plain water and dry thoroughly with a clean towel.

Vinegar, bleach, and other acidic cleaners should never be used on marble, as they will etch the stone. Ammonia can also degrade marble over time.

About once a month, reseal the marble with a penetrating sealer made for natural stone. This helps protect the surface from stains and etching. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.


Spills should be wiped up from the marble as soon as possible with a damp cloth. A poultice may be needed to draw out the stain from the porous marble for dried-on stains.

Oil-Based Stains

Oil-based stains like grease or cosmetics have an easy fix. Just mix a small amount of pH-neutral dish soap into warm water and apply to the stain with a soft cloth. Let it sit briefly to emulsify the oil, then wipe it clean. Avoid aggressively scrubbing the area.

Organic Stains

For food, beverage, or plant-based stains, make a poultice using baking soda and water. Apply the poultice to the stained area, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit overnight before scrubbing and rinsing clean.

This process can help draw deep stains out of the marble pores.


Ink or Dye Stains

Blot wet ink immediately with an absorbent cloth. For dried ink or dye, try gently scraping the stain with a plastic scraper or the edge of a credit card. Avoid metal scrapers or abrasive pads. If needed, apply a marble poultice as described above.


Avoid using paint thinners or removers, as they are too abrasive for most countertops. Instead, gently scrape dried paint with a plastic scraper. If scraping does not remove all of the paint, try using a small amount of paint lacquer. For large paint stains, you may need to have the marble etched and resurfaced by a professional.


Marble is composed of calcium carbonate, which reacts with acids. When acidic substances come in contact with the marble surface, a chemical reaction dissolves the calcium carbonate. Acidic substances cause pits, clouding, and opaque spots that damage the appearance of the stone.

To limit etching:

  • Keep acidic foods and liquids, like lemon juice, off countertops. Use cutting boards.
  • Rinse spills promptly with water.
  • Avoid scrubbing powders or creams, which may be acidic.

To remove light etching:

  • Polish with a calcium carbonate marble polishing powder. Use a soft cloth and buff gently in a circular motion.
  • For honed marble, an abrasive polishing pad may be needed to smooth etching.

Severely etched areas may need professional refinishing. Be cautious of do-it-yourself acid etching removal kits, which can further damage marble.

Sealing Marble Countertops

Properly sealing your marble countertops is one of the most important steps you can take to protect them. Sealing creates a protective barrier that prevents stains from penetrating the stone. Be sure to use a penetrating impregnating sealer specifically formulated for natural stone. Here’s how to seal your marble countertop:

  1. Clean the countertop thoroughly before applying the sealer.
  2. Apply a thin, even layer of sealer using a clean cloth or foam applicator. Allow to dry completely.
  3. Apply a second coat of sealer following the manufacturer’s directions, usually within 30-60 minutes.
  4. Two coats are often enough, but apply a third if instructions call for it. 
  5. Thoroughly wipe the excess sealer with cotton cloths within 15 minutes of application.
  6. Reapply sealer every one to two years for optimal protection.

With routine cleaning and frequent resealing, you can keep natural marble countertops looking beautiful for years. Acting quickly when spills happen helps prevent stains. Consult a stone restoration professional for problems like etching that require expert repair.

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So, Is Marble Right for Your Kitchen Countertops?

Marble undoubtedly makes a gorgeous, unique addition to any kitchen. As a seasoned real estate agent, I know firsthand that marble countertops stand unrivaled for their elegance.

The drawback to marble is that these countertops require more frequent sealing and care compared to materials like quartz. The porous stone can stain or etch if not properly maintained.

If you are willing to take some extra precautions with spills, you can enjoy the elegance and beauty of marble in your kitchen or bathroom. Use trivets, promptly wipe spills, and reseal as needed to keep your counters gleaming for years. 

Today’s Homeowner Tips

For busy kitchens prone to splatters or stains, I recommend a lower-maintenance quartz or cultured marble as a better option.

FAQs About Marble Countertops

How often should you seal marble countertops?

Marble countertops should be sealed every one to two years with a penetrating stone sealer. More frequent sealing is needed for heavily used countertops. New marble should be sealed immediately before use.

Can you use vinegar to clean marble?

No, vinegar is too acidic for marble and can damage the surface. Avoid all acidic cleaners. Use only pH-neutral dish soap and water.

What happens if you don't seal marble countertops?

Without a protective sealant, marble is vulnerable to stains and etching from acidic liquids. Unsealed marble absorbs stains easily and will show signs of wear much faster than sealed counters.

What is the most stain-resistant marble?

Honing marble produces a matte finish, enhancing its scratch resistance, though it remains susceptible to staining. Polishing, on the contrary, creates a glossy surface, making marble highly resistant to stains but prone to visible and prominent scratches.

How do you get dried food off marble?

For dried food, use a plastic scraper to gently scrape the food off the marble. If the food has left a stain, make a poultice with baking soda and water to gently draw the stain out of the marble. Apply to stain, cover with plastic, and leave overnight before rinsing clean. Avoid abrasive scrubbing.

Can you use bleach on marble?

No. Bleach and other acidic cleaners will etch and damage marble surfaces. Use only mild pH-neutral soaps.

Editorial Contributors
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Laurie Engle

Expert Writer & Reviewer

Laurie Engle is a freelance writer who provides insights to homeowners on topics such as the home warranty industry, relocation issues, and real estate trends. As a licensed Realtor since 2001 Laurie has acquired extensive expertise in dealing with home warranty companies and navigating the intricacies of the real estate market. In addition to her commitment to helping clients with their home buying and selling needs, she maintains a sharp awareness of market dynamics, including property values, interest rates, and local regulations.

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Casey Daniel

Casey Daniel is a writer and editor with a passion for empowering readers to improve their homes and their lives. She has written and reviewed content across multiple topics, including home improvement, lawn and garden care, sustainability, and health and wellness. When she’s not reviewing articles, Casey is usually playing board games, repainting her bathroom, or quilting.

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