Natural Stone Safe Household Cleaning Products

Natural Stone Safe Household Cleaning ProductsNatural stone is beautiful but delicate and if you are easily annoyed by dull spots and inconsistent finishes on your counters, floors and showers it may not be the surface for you. Marble, Limestone and Travertine all react quickly when an unsafe product comes into contact with it. You may not even realize that you accidentally over sprayed an unsafe product onto the counter while you were cleaning the sink faucet and now you have little marks all over the counter. Same goes for the shower door. You are wiping it down using something like Meyers Clean Day Tub and Tile Cleaner which does awesome on glass by the way, and now all of the sudden there are spots all over the floor under the shower door. A day or two goes by and all of the sudden the light hits just right and you see the dreaded spots. “What the heck? Where did these come from” you ask yourself. Unfortunately you just created your first etch marks. Those are etch marks are now on there until you can call a professional out to remove them with machines. Those pesky spots were made instantaneously when the acid in the cleaner came into contact with the calcium carbonate in the natural stone. “GREAT!!!! So now what?”… read more to find out which natural stone safe household cleaning products I recommend to be safe on and around your travertine, marble and limestone surfaces.

So, to avoid this type of fiasco in the future you should try and only use natural stone safe household cleaning products on all the surfaces in your home. So what type of household cleaners can I use? I have compiled a small list and documented most of the tests I did in this  youtube video. Basically it all comes down to chemistry… Alkaline’s and Acids. Alkaline soaps are safe to use on your natural stone while acids are not.

Tile Girl’s list of safe natural stone household cleaning products and my findings:

SAFE Natural Stone Household Cleaning Products:



Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

DAWN dishsoap

Windex is fine to use on your windows and mirrors. If it comes into contact with your stone it appeared to be just fine maybe a very slight dulling but it was inconclusive.

Soft Scrub- Safe to use in your sink and toilets and will be safe around your stone surfaces that are near the sink and toilet.

Baking Soda and Water- This is meant for stone countertops

Home Depot- Aquamix Marble, Travertine Limestone and Slate Cleaner

Home Depot- Grout Deep Clean


NOT SAFE- Natural Stone 


Melaluca Tub and Tile Cleaner

Meyers Clean Day Tub and Tile Cleaner

Meyers Clean Day Dish Soap leaves a small etch mark


NOT RECOMMENDED even though it didn’t appear to leave a mark.

Tilex with bleach

Home Depot- Heavy Duty Tile & Grout Cleaner – This helps to get wax off your travertine and is safe to use on y our natural stone though it does appear to dull the surface just a bit. If you have wax on your travertine, marble or limestone floor it’s best to leave the removal to the experts. Call us for your free estimate on removing wax from your natural stone.

I hope that this list help you to determine the cause of you etch marks and to prevent further etching in the future. Get Free Estimate


Swollen Baseboards? MDF Vs. Real Wood

What’s the deal here? You just had your carpet or tile cleaned and now you notice you have a few swollen baseboards.  You always assumed you had wooden baseboards! Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you that you don’t. In fact, what you have is a cheap wood alternative called MDF. MDF is short for Multi Density Fiberboard which is basically another name for pressboard or particle board. MDF is swollen baseboardsmade of sawdust and resin which is then formed into moldings, panels and baseboards.  MDF is used because it is more cost effective than using real wood, it’s appealing to the eye due to it’s lack of imperfection and it’s ease of use.

MDF is great in applications where moisture will never be an issue such as decorative trim work, fireplace mantels, crown molding and column wraps.  Unfortunately, in order to cut costs, contractors and DIYers are cruising down the molding isle at their local home improvement store and choosing this cheaper baseboard alternative.  

When MDF gets wet it acts like a sponge trapping the moisture and swelling your baseboards. Sometimes they will even start crumbling back into saw dust!  For this reason, MDF should not be used in applications where it comes into contact with water.

So what can you do if you have MDF or you move into a home with MDF baseboards? First, take notice of any gaps between the tile and the baseboard as well as any small nicks in the paint.  These gaps MUST be caulked to seal the space between the bottom of the baseboard and the tile. If there is even the smallest opening, water WILL get in there while you are mopping or having your floors cleaned and you will have swollen baseboards.

If you have decided to install MDF baseboards in your home to save money then you must take all the precautions necessary to make sure you don’t end up with a house full of swollen, crumbling baseboards. First, make sure to paint the entire baseboard, front-top-bottom-sides and back. Also, occasionally check that the caulk is holding tight where the baseboard sits on the tile.  It literally takes the smallest amount of water to ruin this type of baseboard as it is basically made of paper.  If you can’t tell,  these baseboards are our nemesis. We can usually spot them straight away and when we do we discuss the options with our clients regarding cleaning near these type of baseboards.  Other times, these MDF baseboards appear to be caulked, very well, and so we go about our business cleaning the tile.  Most of the time it’s not a problem but like I said earlier, even the tiniest separation in the caulk,  or a missed caulk line, can lead to a swollen baseboard.

It’s almost impossible not to get moisture near the baseboards when doing a restorative type of cleaning. We really try and stay away from these type of baseboards during our cleaning process but there are times when water runs down a grout line toward the baseboard, or the buffer pushes water towards the baseboard, where there is either no caulk or a gap in the caulking. It happens and we don’t always know that there is a crack in the caulk until it’s too late.

If you have MDF baseboards and they are not properly caulked or painted you may be replacing a few pieces after the fact. 

Read more about swollen baseboards here.

Hiring A Stone Cleaning Contractor

Stone Cleaning Professional Checklist:

Are you considering hiring a stone cleaning professional to restore or maintain your natural stone surfaces?  This is a big deal because maintaining natural stone is not cheap and not every cleaning contractor is knowledgeable in natural stone.  Also, it is very important to make sure you are comparing apples to apples when comparing estimates from different stone cleaning professionals. Here is a list of a few things to consider before making your final choice. Stone Cleaning Professional Checklist

  1. Referrals, are they offering to give you any? Always good to actually talk to a previous client and not just rely on written reviews.
  2. Is the price in line with the industry.  If it seems too good to be true it probably is…
  3. Are they offering a discounted price?  If so, does this also mean a discounted service or will you be receiving a full service treatment for that discounted price?
  4. Will they be using a rotary machine?
  5. Will they use a pad or a brush on that rotary machine? Each has its purpose.
  6. Will they be scrubbing the grout lines with a nylon brush?
  7. Have they recommended sealing?
  8. Do they mask off your appliances? Put tarps down to cover the carpet, corner guards to protect your baseboards etc…
  9. Do they move furniture?
  10. Did they discuss with you the possibility that the sheen or shine may change with cleaning?
  11. Who will be coming to do the work? Owners will always have a deeper interest in customer satisfaction.
  12. How long have they worked on natural stone?
  13. Are they licensed, bonded and insured? If so, get that information.
  14. And finally, what is your personal feeling regarding this person and their company? Do you feel comfortable with them? Do you get a good feeling from them? Do you feel like they’ll come back and stand behind their work should something go wrong? Generally you have a gut feeling about people. Go with your instincts if you

I hope this stone cleaning professional checklist has been informative and will help you in making an informed decision regarding your next stone care professional! 🙂

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How do I clean my travertine shower?

How do I clean my travertine shower?Are you asking yourself, “How do I clean my travertine shower?” Well for starters, and the number one most important thing, DO NOT use an acidic cleaner. That means no vinegar, no CLR, and basically no shower cleaning products sold to you at Target, Walmart, Grocery Stores etc… So what can you use? You can use any neutral PH balanced cleaner. What is that you ask? Well,  first, you need a little chemistry lesson. All cleaning solutions are given a number on the PH scale. The pH scale ranges from 1 to 14 and is a measure of a solution’s acidity or alkalinity. A pH of 7 is neutral; a pH less than 7 is acidic; and a pH greater than 7 is alkaline, or basic.

Now that we know what a pH scale is and that you must use a NEUTRAL pH cleaner (7) I will give you some examples of cleaners that you CAN use for cleaning your natural stone shower. If you are looking to go the more natural route then dish soap may be an option for you. Dish soap comes very close to 7 on the scale.  You can also use a little baking soda and water mixture to scrub down the walls. The baking soda has a bit of a gritty texture making it a bit easier to clean off rust buildup and mold. If you want something a bit more powerful your local home improvement store will have a neutral pH cleaner in their tile section. Here is a link to a neutral cleaner at Home Depot. Neutral Cleaner.

It is important to keep in mind that travertine and marble showers are really hard to clean and maintain because they are so susceptible to etching. You really need to use a professional stone cleaning service, like ours, to get your natural stone walls cleaned up.

For more information see my other blog regarding etching Etch Marks & What You Can Do About Them and also my other blog post White Stuff on Shower Walls

Gloss Sealer on Stone Floors

Are you sitting there on the couch looking at your natural stone floors and thinking… “Gee, I sure wish my travertine…marble…slate…limestone was shiny! There has got to be a way I can do it myself!”.  So you take to the internet, browsing how-to articles, looking for any information on making your travertine shiny without calling in a professional stone restoration company. After all, who really needs that bill?!? “Not me!”  In your series of searches, you’ve stumbled upon the perfect solution… Dun da da da…gloss sealer! And the crowd goes wild!!! Whooooo gloss sealer! “That looks like an excellent idea! It’s cheap, easy to use, and best of all I can do it myself!” Off to the home improvement store you go! Not so fast… der der der.

Unfortunately I have some bad news for you.  Awwwww 🙁   Gloss sealers and topical coatings are THE absolute worst idea for making your natural stone floors shiny! You will want to think twice before using any product that tells you to mop shine onto your stone floors!  Over a period of time gloss sealers turn gray, sometimes yellow, and begin to flake off.  They act like a magnet, collecting dust from the air and dirt from your shoes. Even mopping a stone floor with a gloss coating will make it dirtier! But the number one deterrent for applying a gloss sealer to your floor is the cost to remove it. Gloss coatings are VERY costly to remove and it almost always winds up costing twice as much as if you would have hired a professional stone cleaning company to polish it properly in the first place.  See our Stone Polishing Page for information on how to properly polish your natural stone floors.

Gloss Sealer

There is no comparison between the shine from diamond polishing and the shine your receive from gloss. Whether you want to add just a little shine or alot of shine, call a professional Stone Restoration Company. Make sure they are licensed for stone restoration and if possible try and get some references to call. If you are in the Phoenix Metro area and are in need to stone restoration services we can help. CALL Scottsdale Travertine Polish today for your free estimate. #topicalcoatingonstone #glosssealerontravertine #tilegirl #pvinteriorstilecleaning #shinystonetile #howtomakemytravertineshiny

Gloss Sealer

Gloss Sealer

Gloss SealerGloss Sealer

Stone Cleaning

Stone Cleaning

Professional stone cleaning, or natural stone cleaning as some may call it, is a necessity every few years as mopping does not and cannot give the same results as those achieved through the use of big machines. Stone floors get dirty over time leading to a cloudy, hazy looking floor with no character. Cleaning stone floors with a heavy duty alkaline cleaner and big machines will leave the stone a bit dull and chalky looking. This is why we generally polish the stone after cleaning. Polishing the stone floor will not only bring out the color in the stone but also closes the pores in the tile, giving additional protection from stains. Virtually every stone floor out there can benefit from having a professional stone cleaning every few years.

Stone Cleaning

Be very careful who you hire to work on your stone floors as not everyone in the cleaning business is knowledgeable about stone. Different stone surfaces require different types of cleaners and can easily be damaged if cleaned incorrectly. Choose a LICENSED stone professional for your next stone floor cleaning project! 🙂 CALL TODAY for your free stone cleaning estimate. We would love to hear from you!

Tile Cleaning Tools of the Trade

Tile Cleaning Tools of the Trade

Today on our job I decided to show a couple of the must have's if you are going to professionally clean tile. Obviously a big truck mounted machine is needed but besides that what else is there really?

It is SO important that each and every grout line be scrubbed down using one, if not both, of these grout brushes. The rinse extraction machine and the sx12 tool work great but the grout comes cleaner if the grout lines are scrubbed first! Also, as I explain, the machine can only get so close to the wall and will leave about a half inch line around the edges that needs to be scrubbed by hand, washed again and wiped up with a rag or sucked up with the vacuum hose. 

To make life easier, we spread the soap around using a pump sprayer. These pump sprayers don't tend to last too long in our line of work, even the really expensive ones so we have quite a few laying around in the trailer 🙂 

I also use booties. Yes, that's right, booties even when I'm cleaning. I don't want the soap to wreck my shoes. I have never done any scientific testing but I'm pretty sure the chemicals used for cleaning tile everyday aren't that great for the rubber soles of the shoes and in my opinion wear the shoes down faster. The booties are not a necessity for cleaning but they are nice to have around especially when the job is complete. We never walk on a clients floor after it has been cleaned even if it's dry.

Tile Girl Tools of the Trade Video

PH Balance | What Does it Mean & Why Does it Matter?

What does it mean & how does it affect the cleaning of your stone surfaces?

This is a great article I found on It explains the differences in PH and finding a PH Balance. A ‘7’ on the PH scale indicates neutrality. This is what you want for general purpose stone cleaning.

Yin & Yang PH Balance

Acids and Bases – What is pH?

If you watch TV, you’ve probably seen commercials for products claiming to be “pH balanced.”  But what is pH, anyway?  And how does pH affect cleaning?

The basics of pH
pH is a measure of how acidic or basic a solution is.  Water based solutions range from a pH of zero to a pH of 14.  The mid point of the pH scale, 7.0, is considered neutral.  Pure water is neutral.

Low pH = Acidic
If a solution has a pH that is lower than 7, that solution is considered acidic.  Acids are usually sour or bitter – coffee, cola, and lemon juice all have an acidic pH.  When used in cleaning products, acids help to break down difficult stains like rust or mineral deposits.

Some common cleaning products that have an ACIDIC PH are:

  • Hard water/mineral deposit removers like CLR
  • Toilet bowl cleaners
  • Rust stain removers
  • Tub and tile cleaners
  • Mold removers

Acidic cleaners attack and dissolve these types of stains, breaking them down and making them easier to remove. These are NOT good to use on your travertine or marble tile! When diluted in a large amount of water and spread all over the floor, counter or shower, they will merely dull the surface of your stone. However, if spilled in a concentrated amount they will damage the stone leaving behind a dull, rough spot known as an etch mark. These etch marks can only be removed through grinding the stone down and polishing it back up. $$$

Vinegar for cleaning travertineAcidic Cleaners Not Suitable for TravertineAcidic Cleaners not meant for travertine

High pH = Basic (alkaline)

A solution with a pH that is higher than 7 is basic (sometimes referred to as alkaline).  Products with basic pH values are useful for removing fatty and oily soils from surfaces – including your hands!  Your average bottle of hand soap has a pH of 9 or 10.  Bleach, which is useful for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in your home, has a pH of 12.5.

Some common cleaning products that have a basic pH include:

  • Oven cleaner
  • All purpose cleaners
  • Laundry detergents
  • Dawn Dish Soap   9
  • Windex   1o
  • Amonia 11
  • Bleach 13
  • Drain Cleaner 14

Alkalinity attacks fatty and oily soils breaking them into component parts that are easier to remove from the surface or fabric.


Striking a balance

Most products are pH balanced – this simply means that the pH of a solution has been raised or lowered in order to get the job done.  For example, a product designed to remove rust stains would have a pH that’s low enough to dissolve tough rust stains, but high enough to leave your bathtub’s enamel surfaces unharmed.

These products all have a neutral PH Balance of 7 and can be used safely and effectively on your stone surface.

PH Balance Cleaner Tile Girl Picks neutral-ph-cleaners-tile-girl-picks-stone-tech neutral-stone-cleaner-tile-girl-pics-modern-stone-care

From all-purpose cleaners and glass cleaners to tub and tile sprays, cleaning products are formulated to have the most effective pH for the job.

Travertine Cleaning Do’s and Don’ts

travertine cleaning do's and don'ts

My Guide to Travertine Cleaning Do’s and Don’ts!

Travertine is a beautiful material which can easily fit most anyone’s decor. If properly maintained it can be enjoyed for years to come. That being said, how DO YOU maintain your travertine tile? I have put together a small list of travertine cleaning Do’s and Don’ts for your reference.

travertine cleaning do's and don'ts


Do: Vacuum or dust mop the floor prior to cleaning. This will keep the grout lines cleaner for a longer period of time.

Do: Change your mop water frequently. If you keep the mop water clean it will reduce the amount of dirt being spread around while you are mopping.

Do: Use a neutral based stone cleaner to clean your travertine and marble floors. Travertine and Marble are very sensitive to acid based and highly alkaline cleaners. Neutral on the PH scale is 7. Any solution with a pH below 7 is an acid and any solution with a pH above 7 is an alkali (or base).  Please follow directions on the cleaning bottle and dilute as directed. 

Do: Seal your travertine grout. There are companies out there that pitch the no sealing route when highly polishing the stone. I agree that the stone doesn’t necessarily need to be sealed but the grout does. The grout will never come clean if it wasn’t sealed with a penetrating sealer.

Do: Use a coasters or a wooden block under your cups, bottles and wine glasses. Any drink that contains acid will leave a ring on your countertop. This ring is called an etch mark and most likely will have to be honed out by a professional and polished back up to match the rest of the countertop finish around it. You can watch my video on etch mark removal here.

FYI: Regular cleaning of your travertine tile will help to maintain an even shine. Dirt and grit on the floor are ground into the tile as you walk around. This is a contributing factor in dulling of the travertine shine.

Do: Fix and fill holes in the travertine. Travertine repair can either be done with a two part epoxy or grout. A two part epoxy is used for the larger holes while a sanded or a non sanded grout is used for the smaller holes. Non Sanded Grout will sometimes shrink after it dries and more may need to be applied.

Ok NOW onto the DONT’s of Travertine and Marble flooring, countertops, showers etc…

Don’t: Use an acidic soap or vinegar water solution to clean your travertine or marble floors, countertops or showers. Acid soaps will dull the travertine and leave etch marks on the tile. It’s better to use soaps specifically formulated for use on natural stone. Even bleach will damage and dull the stone surface.

Don’t: Slide furniture around on your travertine floor. This will scratch the soft surface of the travertine tile and a lot of work will be needed to remove the scratch. It’s just like when you scratch wood. The tile too, will need to be sanded down to remove the scratch.

Don’t: Use any type of topical coating on your travertine or marble tile! This is a huge NO NO. They sometimes come under the guise of a sealer but they aren’t! BEWARE of anything you see that says “Gloss, Wax, Floor Finish”. Open the bottle and look at it. If  you look into the bottle and see a milky white substance put it back on the shelf, it’s a topical coating and it will ruin your floor.

Don’t: Place cleaning products on your stone countertops. Unless the products you are using are safe for stone it’s probably a good idea if they are no where near your stone surfaces. Read every table to see what you are dealing with. CLR for example, when sprayed on a glass shower enclosure, can have massive consequences to the travertine tile floors surrounding it. The acid in the CLR will react with the stone from the very second it touches it and your floor will have small dull marks everywhere. They will now require honing and polishing.

Travertine Cleaning Do's and Don'ts

Travertine can easily be restored by a licensed, professional, travertine restoration company such as Scottsdale Travertine Polish & PV Interiors. One more thing of importance to mention… MAIDS. They are the root cause of a lot of travertine flooring problems that we see. These cleaning services have no idea these travertine cleaning do’s and don’t are. Half of these maid services don’t even know that you have natural stone surfaces in your house. These cleaning service company’s inadvertently use a cleaning product that damage the stone and cost thousands to the homeowner in restoration fees. Think ahead, be proactive, give them a safe cleaning product to use on your travertine or marble surface!

Hopefully this guide to travertine cleaning do’s and don’ts helps you the next time you have a question about how to properly care for you natural stone floor.



Travertine Tile Cleaning Solutions

One of THE most asked questions I get is, “What should I clean my travertine tile floors with after you are done?” There are several travertine tile cleaning solutions out there but the one we usually recommend using is Stone Tech’s, Stone & Tile Cleaner Stone Tech Stone & Tile Cleaner  This non-abrasive, pH balanced cleaner is formulated so it won’t damage sealer or stone like other cleaners. Designed to be safe enough for use on natural stone, ceramic and porcelain tile floors.

Another travertine tile cleaning solution we recommend is Stone Tech’s Revitilizer Cleaner Protector.  This cleaner, “Cleans common messes while reinforcing protection. It’s built-in sealer makes surfaces easier to clean. Great for stone countertops, floors, and showers. Recommended surfaces: Natural stone such as travertine, marble, granite, slate and sandstone.”  Here is a link to the product on Amazon’s Stone Tech Revitilizer . We recommend diluting it more than the recommended guidelines! 

Believe it or not, most damage occurs from just walking around on your floor when it is dirty. We recommend using a dry, non-treated, dust mop everyday to remove dirt, sand, small rocks and dust. These particulates collect on the bottom of your shoes and slowly grind down the surface of the floor as you walk. This is a very common problem in North Scottsdale, Carefree and Cave Creek where many neighborhoods are on dirt roads. Mats or area rugs inside and outside an entrance will help to minimize the potential damage from these particles. In addition, be careful when using a vacuum cleaner as the metal or plastic attachments or wheels may scratch the surface. Damp mop the stone floor with a diluted solution of a neutral cleaner designed for stone. 

While we like the line of products produced by Stone Tech, any neutral, PH BALANCED cleaner will do.

Note** If the cleaner is too alkaline it will dull your floor. If it has any acid in it, it will dull your floor and ruin the finish.

Travertine Tile Cleaning SolutionTravertine Tile Cleaning SolutionsStone Tech Tile Cleaner–tile-floor-cleaner