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How to Clean Marble

By Dr. Laundry August 3, 2010

Q. We have tumbled marble tile in our newly renovated master bathroom shower. Can we use Clorox to control the mold/mildew in the shower without damaging the tile?

A. Congratulations on surviving a remodel; your bathroom sounds beautiful. Unfortunately, I can’t give you a recommendation for bleach usage on tumbled marble tiles. In general, we recommend against using any of our Tilex® bathroom cleaners (both with and without bleach) on marble, so I wouldn’t advise bleach usage here. Calcium carbonate, the primary compound in marble, can be highly reactive to both acidic and alkaline cleaners; your tiles may end up etched, pitted, or discolored. Since your shower is newly remodeled, hopefully you don’t have a mildew problem yet and can take steps now to avoid one in the future. Ventilation is key. A well-ventilated room will dry out quickly; using a squeegee to remove moisture from the shower walls will also help reduce mildew growth. As far as what cleaners you can use, I would start by checking with the manufacturer/supplier of your tiles to see what they recommend. I also found one web site to be particularly helpful with information on caring for tumbled marble, http://www.countertopspecialty.com, which includes suggestions for pH neutral cleaners suitable for marble. They also suggest keeping samples of your tile so that if you do end up with a mildew problem that needs a stronger cleaner, you can experiment on the sample tiles to see if limited use would be acceptable.