How to Clean Limestone

A limestone wall.

Limestone is a sedimentary rock commonly used for flooring, wall tiles, counters, shower surfaces, and outdoor paving. While limestone can have a long, useful life (see the Great Pyramid of Giza), it is fairly soft. As such, it can be easily scratched, damaged by heat, and etched by acidic substances. Improper care and cleaning can wear on the stone, and damage may need to be professionally repaired.

Strong cleaning products that do not have a neutral pH could actually do more harm than good, as they break down the surface of limestone. Here are some easy steps on how to clean limestone. I will also include tips on preventing staining and etching, so you don’t end up making a mistake that will cost as much as your first born child to repair. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but only a little bit.

Cleaning Limestone

  1. cleaning suppliesGather your limestone cleaning supplies. To clean limestone floors, you will need a vacuum, broom, or dry mop. You should have a sponge mop ready, too. A mild dish soap can be used for this project, but you might want to pick up a soap designed specifically for limestone. Lastly, you also need a bucket and some soft towels. Of course, if it’s time to reseal the surface, pick up some sealant, too. If you have stains on the limestone in need of removal, be sure to grab some white flour and hydrogen peroxide.
  2. wiping down limestoneVacuum, sweep, or dry wipe the limestone surface.This may sound strange, but you can vacuum limestone floors if you turn off the spinning brush. However, be very careful that you are not scratching the surface. Vacuuming does a great job of removing sand and dirt from cracks and crevices. Otherwise, use a broom or dry mop to clean up any dirt and debris. For counters and walls, use a dry, soft cloth to remove as much dirt as you can. Any particles left on the limestone during a wet cleaning can inflict a multitude of scratches into the surface, so try to get it all.
  3. limestone sinkWet cleaning of the limestone tile. To clean limestone, all you need is a bucket of warm water with a couple tablespoons of soap mixed in. Gently mop the stone floors, or wipe other surfaces, with the mixture. Take your time on this step, and allow ample time for the soap to break down the filth.
  4. bag of flour and hydrogen peroxideCleaning limestone stains. Removing stains may require a poultice to draw the stain out of the stone. You can make a poultice by taking 3/4 cup of flour and adding little amounts of hydrogen peroxide until you have a paste. Apply the paste to the stain and allow it to dry, which may take as long as a day or two. Once dried, carefully remove the dried paste using a soft edged scrapper. Another option is to use a product specially made to clean and maintain limestone, like MB Stone Care MB-1 Floor Cleaner. This product is pH balanced, yet designed to remove stains and grime from stone. To be safe, find an area that no one will see and test the effect first.
  5. dumping bucket of cleanerRinse your limestone tile. Aside from the fact that soap left on the limestone’s surface will attract dirt and speed up the accumulation of filth, it also creates a film that can leave your stone looking dull. Start by dumping out your mop bucket, rinsing it thoroughly, and refilling it with clean, warm water. Mop over the surface with the fresh water. What do you see? Any frothy, lathery sections indicate that your job is not done yet. Repeat this step until it appears that the soap residue has been eliminated.
  6. jug of limestone sealerReapply limestone sealer as directed. Most limestone comes with a sealant on it. Over time, acidic spills and basic cleaning can wear the sealant. Reapplication can help to better protect your beautiful limestone from stains and damage. When choosing a limestone sealant, it is worth the investment to purchase one of high quality. Pick some up at your local home improvement or tile store. Consult the directions on proper application.

Limestone, Not Grimestone

  • Limestone can be very expensive, so you are going to want to take steps to keep it in pristine condition. Remember, babying your limestone is not an obsession but a preservation of your investment. The following tips will help you to do just that.
  • Use rugs to prevent some dirt, sand, and debris from being tracked on your floor.
  • Ask people to remove their shoes before entering a room with limestone.
  • Wipe up spills immediately to prevent staining.
  • Never use generic tile products, bathroom cleaners, glass cleaners, or abrasives to remove stains from limestone.
  • Sweep or dry mop on a regular basis to avoid the accumulation of damaging particulates.
  • Keep a soft cloth handy for a regular wiping down of counters. Protect the surface from the elements by using coasters and trivets.
  • Wipe down shower walls after each use.

Eco-friendly Limestone Cleaners

jug of miracle sealantsMiracle Sealants Tile and Stone Cleaner. This stone cleaner is strong enough to be used on tough stains and filth, but is designed to be mild enough for use on most natural stones that can be sensitive to acidic cleaners. Miracle Sealant Stone Cleaner is biodegradable and non-acidic, which makes it a great option for your limestone cleaning needs.

spray bottle of simple greenSimple Green Stone Cleaner.Created with ingredients formulated to brighten the shine and look of stone, and without harming the finish. Simple Green is non-toxic and biodegradable, and can be used safely on most stone for regular cleaning. Stone cleaners are useful in that most will condition the surface to protect it from spills and wear and tear. You can order bottles of Simple Green Stone Cleaner from Amazon.

microfiber mopMicrofiber mop.Using a microfiber mop is beneficial in that it can trap the dust, keeping it from polluting your air quality and being redistributed around the room. Regular dry mopping can reduce the wear and tear on the finish of your stone, not to mention decreasing wasted water. Most microfiber mops can be easily washed and reused numerous times. Check your local home improvement store for options in microfiber dry mops.