If it was good enough to make up the majority of the Colosseum’s structure, we think it’s a safe bet travertine is up to the task in your home. That’s not to say this tough stone is maintenance free, though. While it has mostly stood the test of time structurally in Rome, keeping this natural stone looking its best does take a little bit of care to get right.
All roads lead to Rome, and all your stone care needs have led you right here to us. So let’s get into what you need to use and keep in mind to clean and care for your travertine, whether you’re working with flooring, backsplashes or countertops — and even some tips specifically for different finishes, like polished, honed or brushed.
What to use to clean and maintain your travertine:
Stone-safe cleaners only:
Like we said, structurally speaking, travertine is very tough stuff. It’s maintaining the look and feel of the stone that will take a hit with neglect or by using acidic or otherwise harsh chemicals to clean the surface. Most common household or tile cleaning solutions feature citric acid or vinegar and can eat away at the stone’s surface, resulting in a dulling effect in the finish. This is especially bad for polished or honed travertine where it will be most obvious, and will eat away at the seal of any stone.
It’s important to use a cleaner that is non-acidic, pH balanced and features no phosphates or ammonia to not only maintain the finish of the stone, but to not damage the seal and lead to headaches down the line. Instead, use a solution formulated specifically for use on natural stone, like one of the products below (depending on your use case):
Flooring and tile: Granite Gold Stone & Tile Floor Cleaner®
Designed to break down tough dirt and oil that has been tracked in, this solution is tough on whatever soil and grime your flooring has been subjected to while being easy on the stone underneath. Make sure to sweep or vacuum the surface clean of loose dirt and debris first, mix 2 to 4 oz of the cleaner into a gallon of water, and then clean the surface with a string mop, sponge mop or towel.
Countertops, backsplashes, walls, and other less trafficked areas: Granite Gold Daily Cleaner®
Featuring a food-safe, non-toxic and non-acidic formula, this Daily Cleaner has become a staple with its ability to deep-clean natural-stone surfaces while maintaining the protective seal. Plus, since it is also pH balanced and engineered to be stone-safe, this solution won’t dull or etch the surface, and wipes away completely streak free.
A Proper Stone Sealing Solution:
Given that travertine, like most all-natural stone, is a naturally porous material, it’s important to seal the surface. This prevents water, staining liquids and even bacteria from making its way into the microscopic pores in the stone. That’s where Granite Gold Sealer® comes in to give your stone a protective layer of defense from staining, etching and deep soil build-up.
To seal your stone, first clean and clear any dirt and grime from the surface and allow to dry. Spray the solution in a 3-foot section and use a fresh and dry cloth to buff the solution into the surface immediately. Repeat this process up to three times for maximum protection, working in sections and always letting the surface dry between applications. It’s important to not let the sealer dry on its own on the surface, as this will lead to hazing.
In general, it is recommended to seal your travertine every 6-12 months, but that is highly dependent on use, and if particular areas receive heavier than normal traffic or soil. If you’re in doubt, you can always try the water test to see if your stone is in need of sealing.
Non-abrasive cleaning implements:
In addition to being damaging to that protective seal you worked so hard to apply, overly abrasive or harsh scrubbing tools can and will mar the finish of your stone. Things like steel wool and tough scouring pads can be a tempting thing to use when trying to scrub up a particularly stubborn stain or soil build-up, you have to resist that temptation!
This is especially true if you’re dealing with polished or honed surfaces, but even tumbled, sandblasted or brushed travertine are susceptible to damage here. Instead, use these tips below to get up stains, remove soap scum or fight mildew:
Getting up a stain:
If a stain has set in beneath the surface of the stone, all the scrubbing in the world won’t be enough to get it up — especially in the case of tough oil stains. For oil stains, baking soda with acetone into a paste at the consistency of pancake batter and place onto the stained area. Allow the paste to sit for 24 hours, then remove and rinse with water. Repeat if necessary; some stains may require two or three attempts. Reseal the stone surface once this is completed.
Mildew in a natural-stone shower:
- It isn’t typically recommended to use bleach on stone, but in the case of mildew, it can be used safely if done correctly. Mix one part laundry bleach with one part water and spray it onto the surface (the mixed solution won’t harm stone)
- Scrub with a safe-on-stone scrub sponge, such as Granite Gold Scrub Sponge® or a blue Scotch-Brite pad (other pads are too harsh on stone), or nylon brush (similar to the one we include with Granite Gold Grout Cleaner®)
- Let sit for 15 minutes and rinse with water
- Mold and mildew thrive off moisture, so be sure you have proper ventilation and dry stone and tile surfaces
- In order to help prevent mildew build-up, it’s not a bad idea to squeegee the stone after showering and utilizing your bathroom’s ventilation fans to facilitate fast drying.
Don’t Forget the Grout:
As travertine is often used as a tiling solution for floors, countertops and showers, that means you have grout to maintain as well. Grout is also a porous material and needs to be sealed along with your travertine in order to avoid water and other liquids seeping beneath the surface, and to help stave off discoloration from spilled and grime.
The sealer mentioned above is equally effective on grout, but for deep cleaning, we recommend Granite Gold Grout Cleaner® that comes with the properly formulated cleaning solution that is tough on grime while being safe of grout and the surrounding stone. It also includes a nylon brush that is gentle on your sealer while having fine enough bristles to dislodge dirt and discoloring grime from between your tile.
Have more questions or concerns on how to care for your travertine or other natural stone? Please feel free to reach out to our team of stone care experts at 1-800-475-STONE for specific concerns. Also be sure to check out our full line stone care products to keep your stone looking its very best!