Who doesn’t love the beauty and elegance of marble shower tiles? If you’re reading this, we’re sure you love this classic design and want to know the best way to keep marble shower tiles clean, or remove rust and stains from your shower tile!
Marble is always an excellent choice when it comes to bathroom decor, adding a sense of timeless beauty to any space. With proper maintenance and the right stain removal methods, it’s actually quite easy to keep marble shower tiles looking dazzling over the years! After all, marble has been used for construction for thousands of years - the Romans even had public baths made of marble that we marvel at to this day!
With the beauty of natural stone, the exquisite luxury of marble, and the wealth of choices available, it’s no wonder that marble tiles continue to be the top choice for shower tiles by discerning homeowners. To ensure you get the most enjoyment out of your beautiful marble shower tiles, we’re about to reveal the best methods for preventing stains and deep cleaning your beautiful tiles!
Why does marble tile stain?
Despite its apparent strength and durability, marble is actually a very porous material. Just as caterpillars go through a metamorphosis to turn into butterflies, marble is a metamorphic rock that starts out as limestone. Under the influence of extreme heat, pressure, and the re-crystallization under the Earth’s crust, limestone eventually transforms into a beautiful and denser material – marble. This relatively harder material still carries an attribute similar to the old limestone: porosity!
This means that marble can absorb spilled substances into the stone, which is especially likely in your shower or bathroom. These areas are prone to moisture, soap scum, spills, and even rust - all of which can have an effect on your marble tiles.
However, a regular sealing process and the right cleaning methods for marble are all you need to ensure long-lasting, beautiful stone! We’re sharing steps to help prevent stains from forming in the first place, as waiting too long to provide the proper care can make it difficult to fully remove them from your tile. Hard, yes, but not impossible! There are ways to bring your stained marble tiles back to beautiful life!
Whether your marbles are already showing stains or you’re seeking preventive solutions to keep marble shower tiles looking pristine, we’ve got you covered.
First, let’s identify the various types of stains that can appear on your marble shower tiles.
What Types of Stains Affect Marble Shower Tiles?
Wouldn’t it be nice if your marble shower tiles always stayed this gorgeous?
Iron Deposits– Iron deposits are naturally present in stone, especially in white or light-colored marble tiles such as Carrara or Calacatta Gold. Repeated water exposure, or when water remains on an unsealed surface for hours (both very likely to happen in a shower), can cause iron present in the marble to oxidize. The result can be rust stains that make your marble tiles appear a muted yellow or brown color!
Removing rust stains from marble is difficult - sometimes impossible – since the source runs through the deepest parts of stone tile. The good news: it may be possible to lighten the stain with the repeated application of special rust removers. We’ll cover those in the next section!
Water Mineral Build-Ups- These water stains have a chalky, dull look and a whitish color due to the calcium deposits found in water. When hard water (water with a high concentration of magnesium and calcium) sits on your tiles, calcium deposits stick to the surface of your shower tiles and remain there as the water evaporates.
Mineral build-up is very common in showers, especially around fixtures. When it comes to cleaning marble tiles, these whitish spots are very easy to get rid of with simple cleaning solutions such as a DIY vinegar solution.
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Soap Scum –Have you ever noticed a cloudy layer that covers the surface of your shower tiles? That’s soap scum! This stain is actually a result of the ingredients of your soap reacting with minerals in your water.
The filmy layer on your beautiful marble tiles is unfortunately going to build up from time to time: it’s inevitable. The more minerals in your water, the more soap scum will build up! While eliminating soap scum entirely is impossible, removing the build-up is easy with commercial soap scum removers or a homemade vinegar solution. When buying a commercial soap scum remover, always look for ones that can be used on natural stones, as the other ones can be abrasive and damage your stone surfaces.
Sure, that bath bomb looks great - but what’s it doing to your tiles?
Dye / Shampoo Stains– Therapeutic skin-care treatments, hair masks, bath oils, scented shower gels… The more products you use in your shower, the more exposed your tiles become to oils and colorants found in various self-care products. Rinsing out hair dye or even washing your hair with a slightly colored shampoo can also leave unsightly discoloration and staining on your marble tiles! The rise of colored shampoos and dyed hair treatments like ‘purple shampoo’ or Olaplex have left many homeowners perplexed at how to treat these stains in their showers.
Due to their oily nature, these liquids do not evaporate as quickly as water, and can stay on your marble tiles long enough to be absorbed and cause permanent stains. Therefore, acting fast to avoid stains is key. If you fail to clean fast, stains can quickly set in and become more difficult to remove. Whenever you play to use at-home hair dye or when you’re using colored shampoo, get your scrub brush ready with a professional stain remover!
Mold Stains – Mold is a common problem in a bathroom environment, and frequently seen in damp areas like enclosed marble showers. Since mold can only grow on dirty marble tiles – because dirt provides food for the spores - keeping marble tiles clean is the first step to preventing mold growth in the first place. The quickest way to avoid mold? Avoid getting areas wet! While this isn’t a possibility in a shower setting, you can help avoid mold from growing by ensuring your bathroom has proper ventilation and air circulation, as well as wiping down tiles and grout lines after a shower. In case you fail to do so, mold stain removers work pretty well on marble with gentle cleaning. We listed our top picks for mold stain removers in the sections below!
Etch Marks – Although etch marks are not considered typical stains, these marks look similar to mineral build-ups: they appear as dull and cloudy spots. Etch marks are caused when acidic materials degrade the finish of the stone. In other words, etching eats away the surface and brings out the raw, dull marble underneath.
A common reason for etch marks is using the wrong cleaning materials for marble shower tiles, such as acid-based products or products that are too alkaline such as bleach. Thankfully, the resulting etch marks can often disappear by buffing the stone until the marble surface shines again!
Your Calacatta Gold Penny Tile Polished marble tiles can always look this beautiful - we promise!
Organic Stains–Another type of stain that’s more likely to be spotted on marble kitchen tiles are organic stains – these stains appear as a result of food, beverages, and other fluids that seep into the tile’s pores. Organic stains show up as light brown to yellow, but fortunately they are one of the less stubborn stains that are so easy to remove! If the stains have not set yet, you can try washing them away with dish soap or PH neutral marble tile cleaners. For more persistent or older stains, professional tile stain removers or marble poultices might be needed.
Unless they are very old and deep, you can get rid of most of the common stains listed above by using the right type of cleaning products and methods for your marble tiles.
Not sure which marble cleaning methods to choose?
Scroll on to find out!
The Most Effective Methods for Removing Stains from Marble Shower Tiles
While certain stains are difficult to remove due to their chemical nature, some are much easier than you might think. Read on to find out the kinds of products that can be used to remove different kinds of stains and leave your marble shower tiles looking like new!
Commercial Marble Poultices
Applying a marble poultice is the most common and effective method for removing tough stains from marble tiles, because it successfully pulls out most of the oil and deep dirt by penetrating deep into your marble’s pores!
A marble poultice is made up of two components: a white powder and a liquid solvent. These two components come together to form a paste that is smooth and spreads thickly. The liquid agent in the poultice mix acts as the active ingredient to draw out the stain from the marble, whereas the white powder is an absorbent material that holds the drawn-out stain.
Commercial marble poultice products are usually fine absorbent powders that are designed for easy on-site mixing with a liquid solvent. The type of liquid solvent to be used with this powder product can be distilled water, bleach solution, or the manufacturer’s own recommended liquid solvent– it depends on the type of stain and manufacturer’s instructions for the specific powder mix.
Once the white poultice is mixed with liquid, all you have to do is to spread it over the stained tiles approximately ¼ to ½ inches thick, before covering the poultice with plastic wrap and allow it to dry thoroughly for 24 to 48 hours. When the time is up, rinse with water, dry with a soft cloth, and you’re done!
Marble poultices can work on rust stains as well as dye/ink/shampoo stains and organic stains. Older, deeper stains may not be completely removed but should be lightened and improved in appearance by the treatment.
We recommend commercial poultice products to be more effective on old, set-in stains. Miracle Poultice Plus Cleaner is one of our favorites – it is designed to work on the deepest stains and safe to use on all marble tile surfaces!
When it comes to rust stains, they are particularly difficult to remove so we recommend going with special rust poultice powders, such as Tenax TeRust Rust Remover.
DIY Marble Poultices
The Grit and Polish demonstrated how a DIY Marble Poultice removed stains from their marble countertop - it’s that easy to make yourself!
Do you have less stubborn stains and want to try out your own DIY marble poultice? The easiest way to make your own paste is mixing a white absorbent material and a liquid solvent - white flour with baking soda is one of the easiest DIY poultices you can make!
For the white absorbent, The Marble Institute of America recommends using fuller’s earth, kaolin, powdered chalk, talc, whiting or diatomaceous earth for the most effective poultice mixture to draw out the most stubborn stains.
When it comes to the solvent part, we recommend 6% hydrogen peroxide or ammonia (bleach solutions) for organic and dye stains on light color marble. When removing rust stains from marble in darker colors, even using a small amount of bleach may cause unwanted marks on your stone, so we recommend going with the commercial poultice powders instead.
Pro Tip: If the stain doesn’t come out after a maximum of three poultice attempts, consult a professional. More applications over the same spot will most likely etch your stone!
Soap Scum Removers
Soap scum removers are great to get rid of soap and grime efficiently and easily. However, the key thing to remember is to choose ones that can be used on marble surfaces, as most commercial soap scum removers can be abrasive and damage marble finishes.
MarbleLife Soap Scum Remover is a stone safe product that is both sensitive and effective on marble tile surfaces. Stonetech Sap Scum Remover and Rejuvenate Scrub Free Soap Scum Remover are among our favorites as well, due to their non-toxic, bleach-free formulas.
Professional Mold and Stain Removers
Products that are specially formulated to remove mold stains safely penetrate into the marble where mold is present, loosening its hold and allowing it to be rinsed away. These are usually spray, soak, and rinse products but some may require a light scrub as well. The simple DIY application for each spray can lift out stains safely in a short time with minimal effort!
Deep cleaning dirt removers help with lightly stained areas by cleaning your marble tiles and bringing the dirt to the surface of your stone for easy removal. Although they may not work for deep stains or rust, these special formulas - such as the Black Diamond Stone & Tile Intensive Cleaner- are great for removing stains that are close to the surface before they’re deeply saturated.
Etch removers are specially formulated with polishing compounds to remove light etching and water stains from your polished marble surfaces without the need of any special tools.
When using any professional cleaning products to remove rust and stains from marble shower tile, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the safest and best-looking results!
DIY Bleach Solutions
When wiping down your marble shower tile fails to remove mold or other stubborn stains, we know what comes to mind: bleach! Even though applying bleach seems like an easy DIY solution, it’s not suitable for every marble color - it’s actually a very risky option.
If you decide to take the risk and clean your marble shower tiles with bleach, here’s how to minimize bleach damage. The best way to clean a marble shower with bleach is to apply at most ½ cups of bleach (12 percent hydrogen peroxide) per 1 gallon of water. Since bleach-based cleaners have a high PH and can be very alkaline, any mixture with more parts of bleach can damage the marble, etching and dulling the surface.
Simply add your bleach to the appropriate quantity of warm water and apply the solution with a sponge or soft cloth. If you prefer to scrub, it should only be done with a non-scratch bristle brush or nylon brush. Make sure to saturate moldy areas thoroughly and let the watered-down bleach sit for at least 10 minutes before wiping with a clean sponge or cloth, and then rinsing your marble tiles. Don’t forget to dry the surface of your tiles to prevent new mold growth!
Since your marble can still end up with a dull surface, only apply this solution if you’re prepared to reseal shower tiles afterwards!
DIY Vinegar Solutions
Vinegar is an effective DIY solution to remove calcium deposits (etch marks) on your marble shower walls and floors – a cheaper alternative to commercial etch removal products. Keep in mind to pour only one part of vinegar for three parts water. When used in the right amount, white vinegar is a cheap yet perfect solution for disinfecting marble without harming its beautiful, shiny surface!
Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Marble Tiles
Keep the natural beauty of Thassos marble and Mother of Pearl Tiles with these tips!
- Stay away from acid-based cleaning products or lemon, vinegar, or citrus-based soaps!
- Don’t use vinegar, bleach, and ammonia more than the suggested amount in your mixture!
- Avoid scrapers, the coarse side of sponges, and hard brushes or pads when scrubbing your marble tile!
Preventing Stains with Regular Cleaning & Sealing Tiles
While you can remove most stains with special methods and cleaning products, it’s best to prevent them from growing in the first place. Caring for your beautiful marble is as easy as pie!
Read the following 5 tips about how to maintain and keep your stone always in the tip-top shape!
- First off, seal your marble periodically with an appropriate marble tile sealer, to prevent recurring stains. You can check our blog post about how to choose the best sealer and sealing techniques to protect your shower tiles!
- To remove mold-causing moisture before it can affect your tiles, wipe your tiles with a dry towel after each use. It’s a good idea to keep a clean cotton rag or washcloth ready for use.
- Depending on how often you use the shower, perform light touch up cleaning for all marble tile surfaces once a week or so. You can make your own solution with warm water and some dish soap, or just purchase a PH neutral tile cleaner for this purpose.
- Perform a deep periodic cleaning at least once a month, again using a PH neutral tile cleaner that is safe for marble. Check for any signs of staining and take quick action if you see any.
- If stains occur despite your regular cleaning and tile sealing efforts, talk to a contractor to check possible installation issues that may be the real cause. Unless you find it out, your tiles will keep staining!
Their permeability is the reason why beautiful marble shower tiles are so susceptible to staining, especially in shower areas where there’s constant water and moisture. If you’re not aware of the cleaning hacks and best products to solve common tile staining problems, removing rust and stains from marble shower tile may seem like a very daunting process!
We hope that this article has helped you overcome any fear of rust and stains so that you can enjoy your marble shower tiles without worrying about their future.
If you found this guide helpful, please share so others can benefit from it as well!
We’ve outlined quite a variety of scenarios above, but if you have additional questions about how to clean marble tiles , or remove different kinds of stains, please don’t hesitate to reach out! We’ll be glad to help!