If there is one thing that we’ve learned from MTV Cribs, it’s that the bedroom is where all the magic happens (seriously, they all say that). If there are two things we’ve learned, the second would be that natural-stone showers are a staple feature of just about every celebrity mansion since at least the year 2000 (when the show started).
It’s easy to see why, it’s a timeless, classy look and feel that can’t really be matched by much else. However, with the beauty that high-end natural stone can provide, these showers do require a little different maintenance than your standard ceramic tile or preformed fiberglass shower. But don’t worry, stone is easy to take care of, especially when you keep up on it.
Everything you need to know about keeping that gorgeous natural-stone shower looking its best:
1. Clean Your Stone Weekly:
Remember what I said about keeping on top of cleaning? Well, there’s good reason for that, because it will save you time, frustration and elbow grease down the line. The reason for this is that water deposits, grime, soap scum and mildew will build up over time and become more difficult to remove as the situation gets worse.
What you can do instead is use a stone-safe cleaning product like Granite Gold Shower Cleaner® to clean your stone once a week. And, yes, it is very important to use a cleaner formulated specifically for natural stone, as other common household and shower cleaning products often contain ammonia or are otherwise acidic and feature harsh chemicals that can damage your natural stone through a chemical reaction that results in etching of the surface.
This can look like a stain or discoloration, but is actually physical damage to the stone that will require professional restoration if allowed to get bad enough.
2. Remove Excess Water After Every Shower:
If you are concerned about mildew growing, or have had issues with it in the past, it’s not a bad idea to wipe down the stone surface to keep unwanted moisture from doing what water does best: help life to grow. Not only can mildew grow this way, but leaving water to dry on its own is inviting water deposits and dulling the sheen of the stone as well.
It’s a quick process, you can keep a small squeegee near the shower to wipe off the bulk of the water, allowing the stone to air dry much more quickly. Natural ventilation helps with this process as well, so a venting window or your bathroom’s fan will help eliminate excess water, removing the moisture that mildew needs to grow.
3. Treat Mildew With Bleach:
If you do notice mold or mildew beginning to take hold, a standard stone cleaner such as Granite Gold Daily Cleaner® should be able to take care of minor cases on recently sealed stone. However, if that’s not enough to take care of the problem, you can remedy the situation with a homemade mixture of 1-part water and 1-part laundry bleach. Generally, it’s not recommended to use bleach on stone, but in this case it is one of the most effective methods of getting rid of stubborn growths.
Spray this solution on the affected tile and scrub gently with a non-abrasive nylon brush or pad. Let the solution sit for about 15 minutes after scrubbing, and then thoroughly rinse the bleach away with water.
After a deep cleaning like this with bleach and scrubbing, the sealer in those areas will be stripped, leaving those sections of your stone unprotected. This is a vicious cycle that can lead to an even worse mildew or bacteria problem in the future. That’s why we recommend resealing your stone after this level of cleaning. See #5 on this list for more info on this.
4. Don’t Neglect the Grout:
You know where mold and mildew really seems to like to grow? In your grout. Especially in cases of dark or deep-set grout, it can be easy for an outgrowth to sneak up on you. Mold in your shower is like a living, breathing stain that keeps spreading on its own unless you take the right steps to stop it. Beware of using organic soaps; many homeowners using organic soaps end up feeding the mold spores instead of removing them.
Cleaning the grout in your shower regularly is key to keeping mold at bay and protecting the natural stone around it. It’s also easier to clean that than ever before with the Granite Gold Grout Cleaner® kit, which comes with our specially formulated cleaner as well as a safe-for-stone nylon bristle brush to scrub the mold with. This brush will help dislodge mold spores, but is not abrasive enough to dull your stone’s surface.
5. Seal Your Stone Regularly:
With stone being a naturally porous material, sealing the stone in your shower is pertinent to keeping mold, mildew and staining at bay. By using a natural-stone sealer, you are blocking off the natural microscopic pores and crevices on your stone’s surface. Like we mentioned above, sealing off the stone is the best step you can take in preventing mildew in your shower.
How do you know when it’s time to reseal?
You can check the integrity of your seal with the water test. Pour a small spot of water (about 3 inches in diameter) on the surface of the stone in a few spots and let it sit for half an hour before wiping away. If a dark ring or mark becomes visible in those spots, it means water is penetrating your stone and needs to be sealed again.
Obviously, this process is a little more difficult on vertical surfaces, but an important take-away here is that you cannot to over-seal your stone. In general it’s recommended to seal your stone every 6-12 months, but heavily trafficked areas and spots that have been thoroughly scrubbed or cleaned with something like bleach might require sealing more often than that. You can find more info in our sealing guide here.
So, whether you’re caring for granite, marble, travertine or sandstone in your shower, you should now be well equipped for anything stone maintenance needs that might come your way. And on the improbable chance that the MTV Cribs crew shows up at your door with cameras rolling, you’ll know to tell them where the magic really happens.
In the meantime, you can check out our Granite Gold Sealer® and Grout Cleaner kit to get you started off on the right foot. Are you looking to read more natural stone care tips? Check out all the helpful resources we have available, or give our stone care experts a call at 1-800-475-STONE.