Written by Katie Hinkle | DENVER, CO | March 8th, 2019

Stains can be difficult to remove but they are even tougher when the reason causing it is unknown. Here are tricks to know how to better identify different stains and how to properly clean and care for them.

Oil-based Stains

Grease, tar, cooking oil, and cosmetics are all examples of oil-based stains that will darken the stone. To clean, gently use a soft liquid cleanser, household detergent, ammonia, mineral spirits or acetone. If that does not work, then they must be chemically dissolved by a professional so the stain’s source can be rinsed away.

NOTE: Do not use acidic cleaners on marble! For the best way to clean marble countertops, read Marble Countertop Care and Maintenance.

Organic Stains

Coffee, tea, fruit, tobacco, paper, food, urine, leaves, bark, bird droppings, etc. are all a few examples. Leaving a pinkish-brown stain, it may easily disappear after the source of the stain has been removed. For outdoors, with the sources removed, normal sun and rain action will generally bleach out the stains. However, for indoors, clean with 12% hydrogen peroxide and a few drops of ammonia.

Inorganic Metal Stains

Metal stains like iron, rust, copper, bronze, etc. are orange to brown in color. They will leave a stain in the shape of the object that caused it, such as nails, bolts, screws, cans, flowerpots, or metal furniture. Appearing green or muddy brown, copper and bronze stains result from the action of moisture on nearby or embedded bronze, copper, or brass items. Metal stains must be removed with a poultice. Deep-seated, rusty stains are extremely difficult to removed and the stone may be permanently stained.

Biological Stains

Algae, mildew, lichens, moss, fungi are a few examples of biological stains. Clean them with the following dilute: in a gallon of water, add ½ cup of either ammonia, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide.


WARNING: DO NOT MIX BLEACH AND AMMONIA! This will cause a toxic gas!

Ink Stains

It is hard to totally avoid ink stains from pens, highlighters, magic markers, etc. especially during craft time with little kids. To remove from light colored stones, use bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Remember to not use an acidic cleaner on marble countertops. For darker stones, use a lacquer thinner or acetone.

Paint Stains

A small amount of paint stains can be removed with a lacquer thinner or be scrapped off carefully with a razor bald. Heavy paint coverage should be removed with a commercial liquid paint stripper. DO NOT use acids or flame tools to strip paint from stone.

Water Spots and Rings

When it comes to preventing water rings, coasters are a friend! To clean up water spots and rings off stone, buff it out with a dry 0000 steel wool.

Fire and Smoke Damage

Older stones and smoke- or fire-stained fireplaces may require a thorough cleaning to restore their original appearance. Commercially available smoke removal products may save time and effort.

Etch Marks

Acids typically left from milk, fruit juices, alcohol, etc. will cause the stone finish to etch, but it may not leave a stain. Once the source has been removed, wet the surface with clear water and sprinkle on some marble polishing powder. Using a damp cloth or by using a buffing pad with a low-speed power drill or polisher, rub in the powder. Continue buffing until the etch mark disappears and the marble surface shines. If etching is deep, honing may be required. This process may require the services of a stone maintenance professional.


This is caused by water carrying mineral salts from below the surface of the stone to the top of the surface and evaporating. When the water evaporates, it leaves the powdery salt residue. If the installation is new, dust mop or vacuum the powder away. As the stone dries out, repeat as necessary. Do not use water to remove the powder. Adding water will only add to the problem. If the problem persists, contact the stone contractor to identify and remove the cause of the moisture.


About Brekhus Tile & Stone

Brekhus Tile & Stone is a family-owned tile and stone installation contractor based in Denver, Colorado. Founded in 1998, the company excels at complex, custom, high-end stone and tile installation projects that present technical challenges.

Working throughout the state of Colorado, Brekhus has delivered superior craftsmanship in hundreds of jobs in shopping malls, office buildings, apartment complexes and the nation’s largest restaurant and hotel chains. Our clientele includes: Denver International Airport, Ralph Carr Justice Center, Capital Grille, the Ameristar Casino Resort at Black Hawk, Coors Field, Union Station, and Civic Center Station. In addition to commercial work, Brekhus also designs and builds high-end residential projects including kitchens, bathrooms, spas, heated decks and other luxury home features requiring custom tile and stone. Brekhus Tile & Stone has its own fabrication facility – Brekhus Marble & Granite. On top of being able to cut granite, marble, and other stone to precise specifications, Brekhus Marble & Granite also works with all varieties of flooring tile, porcelain, and other materials.

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Address: 860 S Jason St. Denver, CO 80223
Email: marketing@brekhustile.com
Phone: 303 494 9255