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Removing Stains from Travertine

Travertine tile makes great-looking floors, fireplace surrounds, bathroom features, and backsplashes. If maintained properly, travertine can last forever, but it's not easy to care for. This stone is very delicate, so only certain kinds of cleaners are safe to use. Although stone may be hard, it's also porous. When something seeps down into these pores, it can be very difficult to remove. I'm sure that you have been very careful about protecting your investment. Unfortunately, sometimes stains happen. Here's what to do:

  • As soon as something spills on the travertine, blot it up. Don't rub it because you might work the substance in deeper. The sooner you blot up the spill, the less chance it will have to seep in.
  • First try scrubbing the area with a towel and lots of water. The less often you use chemicals, the better it is for your stone.
  • If plain water isn't enough, use a brush and mild soap and water. Murphy Oil Soap is highly recommended because it's very close to pH neutral. Dilute cup in a gallon of warm water and scrub the area well.
  • If your travertine has marks, rings, or dull spots that you can't clean, it has probably become etched by something. Since the minerals in the stone have become dissolved, this damage is permanent. A stone professional will have to grind down the stone and then repolish it. This is why it's so important to keep acid away from your travertine.

For a particularly stubborn stain, you can make a poultice and allow it to penetrate into the stone. (This won't work for etch marks.) Follow these steps:

  1. Mix baby powder with hydrogen peroxide to form a thick paste.
  2. Spread the paste onto the stain, keeping it about inch thick.
  3. Place plastic wrap over the whole thing and put masking tape around the edges. Remove this after 24 hours.
  4. Leave it alone until the poultice has dried completely. Then gently scrape it off and rinse and dry the area.
  5. If the stain is still there, repeat the process until it disappears. However, you may not be able to remove all stains with this method.

Finally, some warnings about what NOT to do when cleaning your travertine:

  • Don't use generic store-bought cleaners; most are slightly acidic and can harm the stone.
  • Don't clean with vinegar, ammonia, lemon, or orange.
  • Don't use tile or grout cleaners unless they're specially formulated for travertine.
  • Don't use heat or pressure to clean your stone.
 

Comments for this tip:

Camille    31 Mar 2014, 11:54
My Dog was sick last night while I was out. It has left a yellow residue on the travertine. We had our stone sealed about 4 months ago. I am trying the baby powder paste now. Any other suggestions?
Rochelle    11 Mar 2013, 04:10
I recently bought a home with travertine tile throughout. The previous owner had a long runner rug in a hallway that was kept I'm place by what looks like a rubber-like mat made for this purpose. It is obvious because of the size and you can see the complete outline of it. Before spending a lot of money, is there anything you recommend to take it off? It does seem to be inside the stone since it feels like it is flush with the stone instead of a sticky residue on the surface. Please help! Thank you!
Nate    29 Oct 2011, 14:26
Thanks so much. The Murphy's Oil Soap worked like a charm. I can't even find the blemishes.

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