Most people believe that marble countertops are a bad idea, especially for kitchens. They believe they easily stain and scratch because they are porous and soft.

It is important to qualify these beliefs. While it is true that marble is porous, it is not more so than other natural stones are, and considerably less so than concrete countertops, for example. With proper sealing and wiping up spills immediately, it should not stain at all.

As to marble being soft, this is also true, but not as much as most people seem to believe. Marble is not as hard as granite, but it is harder than soapstone.

However, you can scratch marble, and stains can be a bit of a problem for most homeowners, especially when there are careless teenagers and small children around.  Minor scratches usually yield to a good application of marble polish, but stains are a bit trickier. Here are some stain removal tips for marble countertops.

Tip 1: Use rubbing alcohol

If your child has mistaken your marble countertops for paper and scribbled on it with a pen or permanent marker, do not panic. Rubbing alcohol should take that right off if it is a fresh mark.

It is easy enough to do. Simply douse the mark with a small amount of rubbing alcohol and leave it on for a couple of minutes. Rub the area gently with a soft nylon scrub pad, and blot it with paper towels. If the mark is still there, you might have to try something else.

Tip 2: Use 12% Hydrogen Peroxide

Light colored and white marble such as Carrara are common and relatively affordable, and they are easily identifiable as marble, so they are a popular choice for many homeowners. The thing is, these types of marble also tend to make the slightest stains from coffee or tea noticeable, and these will not usually come out with regular cleaners.

If that is the case, your best friend is 12% hydrogen peroxide. This is available from pharmacies, so getting your hands on a good supply is not difficult. However, it is a relatively strong formulation, so you have to be sparing in its use. You might like to add a few drops of ammonia with it to help it along. Here are two methods for using them to remove stains.

Important note: DO NOT use 12% hydrogen peroxide on dark marble as it might discolor it!

Direct technique

The direct technique works best on surface stains, such as ink and coffee stains. Pour a small quantity of hydrogen peroxide (with or without ammonia) on the stain. Let it sit until it seems as if the stains are dissolving a little. Blot the excess liquid with paper towels or a soft rag before using a damp sponge or cloth to clean the area off. This works most of the time, but if it does not, you can try the poultice technique.

Poultice technique

Some stains go deeper than the surface, so you have to draw it out with a poultice, which is a thick paste. Making a poultice is easy. You just add a quantity of baking soda with enough hydrogen peroxide to make a thick paste similar to creamy peanut butter, and mixing a few drops of ammonia with it.  The amount of materials you need will depend on the size of the stain.

Once your poultice is ready, spread a thick layer of it on and slight over the stain perimeter. Isolate it with a piece of cling wrap secured with painter’s tape if you have it. Leave it for 24 hours or until completely dry.

Once dry, remove the plastic cover and see if it removed the stain by scraping the dried paste off with a plastic implement with straight edges, such as a plastic ID card. Clean off any residue with a damp cloth, rinse it clean with water, and dry thoroughly with a soft rag. If the stain is not completely out, repeat the process until the stain is all gone.

Mild etching may result if the stain is particularly deep. If this happens, use a commercial marble polish product to fill it in. Use a clean, soft rag to buff the area gently and apply a coat of marble sealer.

Tip 3:Use baking soda

Dark marble countertops are a bit tricky as they can discolor with ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. You can use baking soda to remove safely most stains, including oil, however.

You will still have to make a poultice, but this time the only liquid you mix with baking soda is water. Aim to get the same consistency as with the previous poultice, and follow the same process to remove the stain. 

Tip 4: Use very fine (0000-grade) steel wool

Some stains are much more substantial than what you get with coffee and ink. Hard water residue, for example, is a tough crust that clings to most stone countertops like nobody’s business. The crust is made of calcium and magnesium, and very difficult to remove if left to accumulate for long enough.

Baking soda, acetone, or hydrogen peroxide is not going to cut. You will need something a physical method, and one of the most effective is using special steel wool designed for marble. You can find this special 0000-grade steel wool in hardware stores, and you simply buff the stains out gently in a circular motion. Once done, rinse the area clean with water and dry with a soft cloth.


Marble countertops might stain, but they are relatively easy to remove. It is not a good reason for you to avoid them for your home. The stain removal tips above should work for most types of stains.

If you do decide to take this advice and get marble countertops, make sure you get them from a reliable countertop company. Keystone Granite & Tile can help you out. With showrooms in Lancaster and Horsham, Pennsylvania as well as New Castle, Delaware, we will walk you through each marble slab and explain how each can benefit you in your kitchen or bathroom remodel. We also offer a wide selection of granite slabs if you decide to go that route.

If you prefer engineered stones, we carry the top brands in the engineered stones industry such as Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI, all with manufacturer warranties.

Once you have chosen your slabs, we provide free professional design consultation and quotes so you know exactly where you are before committing. We also have a quick turnaround, so you will get your products on time and on budget.

We are experts at fabricating and installing marble countertops, so you can be confident that you will get the very best in product and service quality. We service the areas surround Columbus, Ohio, Delaware cities, Lancaster and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,

Give us a call or send us an inquiry through our website to set the ball rolling!