Once your beautiful stone is installed, you will want to keep it looking as new as possible.

Here are some basic tips for keeping your stone stain-free.

  • Spills and stains: Blot the spill with a paper towel immediately. Don’t wipe the area, as that will spread the spill. Flush with plain water and mild soap and rinse several times. Dry thoroughly with a soft cloth. Repeat as necessary.
  • Stain removal: Identifying the type of stain on the stone surface is the key to removing it. If you don’t know what caused the stain, play detective.
  • Where is the stain located? Is it near a plant, a food service area, an area where cosmetics are used? What color is it? What is the shape or pattern? What goes on in the area around the stain?

Surface stains can often be removed by cleaning with an appropriate cleaning product or household chemical. Deep-seated or stubborn stains might require calling in a professional.

Types of stains and first-step cleaning actions:

  • Oil-based (grease, tar, cooking oil, milk, cosmetics): An oil-based stain will darken the stone and normally must be chemically dissolved so the source of the stain can be flushed or rinsed away. Clean gently with a soft, liquid cleanser with bleach or household detergent, ammonia, mineral spirits or acetone.
  • Organic (coffee, tea, fruit, tobacco, paper, food, urine, leaves, bark, bird droppings): Might cause a pinkish-brown stain and might disappear after the source of the stain has been removed. Outdoors, with the sources removed, normal sun and rain action will generally bleach out the stains. Indoors, clean with12 percent hydrogen peroxide (hair bleaching strength) and a few drops of ammonia.
  • Ink (magic marker, pen, ink): Clean with bleach or hydrogen peroxide (light-colored stone only). Use lacquer thinner or acetone for dark stones.
  • Water spots and rings (surface accumulation of hard water): Buff with dry 0000 steel wool.
  • Scratches and nicks: Slight surface scratches may be buffed with dry 0000 steel wool. Deeper scratches and nicks in the surface of the stone should be repaired and re-polished by a professional.

When in doubt, call your stone professional.

Andrea Antunes McGilton is project manager at Distinctive Granite and Marble, with showrooms in Okatie; Lady’s Island; Pooler, Ga., and on Hilton Head Island.