What Can I Use to Clean Natural Stone?
June 21, 2019
Unfortunately, one of the most common reasons homeowners seek out our professional stone cleaning and sealing
services is the use of inappropriate cleaning products. It is not until the stone is damaged that people ask "what can I use to clean natural stone?"
The vast majority of people tend not to pay much attention to what is in the cleaning products they bring into their homes, and, although most prove to be quite effective at doing their job, some might not be safe for all surfaces.
Even hiring a cleaning company to clean your stone surfaces does not guarantee they are using stone-safe cleaners. It's pretty common to hear that customers have no idea what their cleaning companies are using to perform their service, and some even claim many companies use a batch of their own "secret formula" to get the job done. The problem here is that these companies are getting paid to clean, not to look out for your stone surfaces, therefore it's not uncommon to see stone surfaces suffering damage from these services in the long run.
Unsafe Cleaners for Stones Surfaces
- Common Household Cleaners
It's a very frequent mistake to think a single cleaning product can work on all surfaces. Sure, they might clean, but the thing with most common household cleaners is that the same abrasive properties that make them so effective can also break down the stone slabs or tiles' protective seal, making them vulnerable to stains, scratches, etches, and permanent dullness.
- Trendy DIY Cleaners
Nowadays, organic is the trend when it comes to cleaners. From Twitter to YouTube, every cleaning guru seems to be recommending cleaning every surface in the house with vinegar or lemon juice. However, just because they're natural doesn't mean they won't damage your stone surfaces. Some natural stones like marble and travertine are highly porous and mainly composed of calcium carbonate, which is very sensitive to acids. Both lemon and vinegar are extremely acidic, and when used on stone surfaces, will penetrate the surface and cause a chemical reaction with the calcium in the stone, which will gradually produce etch marks and dullness.
What all these stone hazardous products have in common are their pH values. Those cleaners that contain chemicals with a high hydrogen-ion concentration —or high acidity— tend to cause serious damage to the stone's integrity.
Handy Tips for Cleaning Stones Surfaces
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- Use Specially Formulated Stone Cleaning Products
Since stone surfaces are quite an investment, it's better to use a specialized stone-safe cleaner, such as Sir Grout's own pH neutral, which removes most dirt and stains while guaranteeing the stone's integrity.
There will be times when pH neutral cleaners are simply not strong enough for the task at hand. For these situations, there are alkaline cleaning products capable of removing heavy dirt, oil, grease stains, and excess sealant due to over-application. However, this type of product should be used only by people with experience and knowledge.
If you don't have a specially formulated stone cleaning product and need to clean your stone surfaces, opt for a pH neutral cleaner to guarantee that it's not acidic or too alkaline to cause any negative effect.
- Use Different Color Rags for Each Surface
Using specialized stone cleaners might not be enough if you're using the same rag for all surfaces. If it's not properly sanitized, you're most likely using a rag that's contaminated with left over chemicals to clean other surfaces. This can be hazardous for your stone surfaces.
To solve this problem, we recommend using a different color rag for each type of surface and cleaner. This is a simple version of what the professional cleaning industry has been doing for the last couple of years with their cleaning tools in an effort to avoid cross-contamination and control any possible infection.
When implementing your own color-coded program, try matching the color of each rag with the color of the bottle or chemical you plan to use it with. For example, if the bottle of your stone safe cleaner happens to be green, consider matching it up with a green rag. Also, try buying bright-colored rags. This way you will know when it's time to buy a new pack of rags when they fade into a dull color.
- If You Only Have One Rag, Make Sure It's Properly Sanitized
If you only have a single rag for all surfaces and urgently need to clean, or if color-coding isn't the thing for you, it's crucial to properly sanitize you cleaning rags to avoid cross-contamination.
To achieve this, start by washing your rag in the washer at a temperature of at least 140 to 150 degrees. If your washer doesn't reach those temperatures, try boiling your rags in a large stock pot. This will get rid of any germs or left-over chemicals from previous cleaning sessions. Let your rag dry in the sun, as ultraviolet rays act as a natural disinfectant.
- Have Your Cleaning Products and Tools
Finally, have your own cleaning products and tools and make them available to your cleaning company if you plan on hiring them to do the job for you. By directly giving them the proper cleaning products and specifying which tools to use on each surface, you will know for sure your stone surfaces are being safely sanitized and your investment is safe.
For more information on how to maintain your stone surfaces, contact us at (919) 578-5999
. If you feel your stone surfaces need professional help, Sir Grout has expert staff ready to provide you with the right restoration services for your home or business, at a fair price.
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