Q1) When my marble wall & floor dries up, perhaps after I have had a shower, whitish marks appear on the marble surface. What are they? How does this happen?

Marble contains over 55% calcium carbonate, which is a porous material that is sensitive to acidic and high-alkaline materials. This porosity and sensitivity is why it stains so easily. As a result, natural marble requires special care to maintain its shine and colour. Damage such as loss of shine, typically arises due to irregular maintenance, application of improper cleaning methods and inappropriate use of cleaning agents that were never designed for use on natural stones.

Most of our bath soaps used in showering is pH5.5 balanced, neutral to our skin. However, this is slightly acidic to natural marble. Very often, people only use water to clean their bathroom marble floor and wall. To protect marble in a bathroom setting, it is strongly recommended that residues from soap, shower foam, bath gel, shampoo and massaging oil are immediately cleaned away. Allowing these residues to sit for too long on the surface will result in streak marks that will eventually roughen the texture. The surface of the stone will also become dull and develop unsightly whitish marks. The whitish appearance is commonly known as ‘soap scum’. When this change in appearance occurs, it unfortunately cannot be reversed by normal cleaning methods and the marble will have to then be re-polished. Obviously, this is quite expensive.

Q2) How do I treat soap scum on my bathroom’s marble surface?

It can be repaired with our SCL Marble Polishing Powder. A severe case of soap scum resulting in the surface taking on a rough texture should be polished with a diamond polishing pad prior to using the polishing powder. Diamond polishing pads are readily available from us.

Q3) Can I apply SCL Stain-X penetrating sealer or SCL Water-Based penetrating sealer to prevent soap scum from happening on my bathroom’s marble surface?

No. Irregardless it is our SCL Penetrating sealers or other brands of sealer; a penetrating sealer is not designed to form a coat on the marble surface. Thus a penetrating sealer is never an acid resistance sealer. Clean with our SCL Stoneclean-Xtra solution at least once a day could prevent soap scum from happening.

Q4) Can I apply a Wax Coating to prevent soap scum from happening on my bathroom’s marble surface?

Using waxes will clog the stone’s pores and traps the moisture and salts inside the stone. Natural stone is a porous material that has small microscopic pores that allow it to breathe (exchange moisture with the atmosphere).

When the stone becomes dry, it extracts moisture from the atmosphere through its pores and when it becomes too wet, it pushes the excess moisture out of the stone through its pores. When you put any kind of wax on the surface, it closes up the pores and the moisture cannot get out. This creates pressure within the stone and pitting occurs.

Q5) My marble appears to have developed a “mouldy” substance. What is this?

You are experiencing a phenomenon called “efflorescence”. This is a fairly common problem and in most instances, efflorescence is observed on a newly installed marble floors that are less than 6 months old due to excessive use of water during wet polishing.

Efflorescence is actually a mineral salt that has migrated to the surface with water. When water enters the setting bed or the marble becomes saturated with water, the water dissolves some of the salt minerals in the stones. The water then rises to the surface carrying the salts. When the marble dries and the water has evaporated, the salts are left behind and you have efflorescence.

Efflorescence is neither harmful to the stone or to humans. However, left untreated, it will eventually stain the marble floor. If efflorescence has been untreated for more than nine months, the marble will likely have signs of severe staining, in which case polishing using a diamond polishing pad will be needed.

Q6) How do I treat “Efflorescence” on my marble floor?

Immediately after polishing, use SCL-Stoneclean daily to avoid staining from efflorescence. SCL-Stoneclean is a proven efflorescence stone cleaner. It only takes an easy process. Mop with SCL-Stoneclean 3 times a day (morning, noon, evening) for the first 2 weeks immediately after polishing work is completed. If you could not afford the time then mop with SCL-Stoneclean at least once a day continuously for 2 weeks and longer(if needed). You may reduce the mopping from 3 times a day to once a day when efflorescence’s condition has improved. Continue mopping with SCL Stoneclean once a day until efflorescence goes away completely. Daily mopping of the floor with SCL-Stoneclean will restore the marble’s condition back to its original state.

Dilution ratio to treat efflorescence: mix 8 capfuls of SCL Stoneclean with ½ bucket of water (approximately 4 litres of water). Rinsing with water is not required. Leave the floor dry naturally.

TIP for treating efflorescence even quicker: Ventilate your rooms as much as possible to help release moisture trapped in the stones.

SCL STONECLEAN (pH7.0) is a proven product to treat efflorescence.

Q7) How long will it be before the efflorescence disappears completely?

Under normal conditions, you should see improvement after about two weeks of daily mopping with SCL-Stoneclean, with the efflorescence completely subsiding after only six months.

Q8) Can the treatment of efflorescence be speeded up?

Yes. You can bring up the salt minerals to the surface faster by ventilating your rooms as much as possible to release moisture trapped in the stones.

You can also do this by leaving your air-conditioning on 24 hours a day for a few days and mopping the floor with SCL-Stoneclean more often than the recommended once a day.

You should also remove all rags and decoration floor mats temporally to hasten the drying process.

Q9) Can the treatment of efflorescence be speeded up using a dehumidifier?

Using dehumidifier to force dry the moisture inside the marble does not speed up the drying any faster. Adversely, the dehumidifier’s air in the room causes wooden fixture such as wooden door frame and wooden cupboard to warp.

It is best to treat efflorescence with natural ventilation and let it dry at its own pace.

Q10) Having dealt with it, will the efflorescence recur?

No. Efflorescence will only recur under circumstances such as re-polishing the marble floor or in ground-floor houses in which the waterproofing membrane has failed, resulting in water impregnating the floor from the ground.

While treating efflorescence, we strongly advise that your mop be wringed as dry as possible. After efflorescence has completely disappeared, wet mopping of the floor will not trigger a recurrence of efflorescence.

Q11) Can standard floor cleaners available in the super-market remove efflorescence?

Avoid using any standard floor cleaner that is not known to remove efflorescence as it may contain alkaline pH cleaning agents, which will only contribute more salts mineral to the floor.

As a general matter, there is nothing wrong with using a dilute alkaline-based cleaner on most marble and granite surfaces; however the results are unpredictable as some solutions may have a chemical reaction with the stones, resulting in the floor changing or losing its crystalline colour over time.

Q12) Can mopping with water alone remove efflorescence?

No. A simple mop and water combination will not pick up any dirt including efflorescence. You will simply be pushing the dirt with your mop from one corner to the other.

Q13) Can I just use water to clean and maintain my marble surface after efflorescence has completely disappeared?

Water is often spoken as “good old H2O”. Water is two atoms of hydrogen join to one oxygen. The whole collection of atoms is known as a “molecule” of water. Water molecules are good at attracting each other. But they are usually bad at being attracted onto the dirty surface that you’re trying to clean. Unless the dirt dissolves easily, water just doesn’t attract it away from the surface. Insoluble, oily or greasy soil is usually left unmoved. Another drawback is that water is not very good at holding the dirt away from the surface if it should come off. This is because water:

  • water is a poor wetting agent – it prefers to stick to itself
  • water does not lift dirt or oil-based residues from the surface well
  • water is not good at holding dirt in suspension.

Consider the simple act of washing one’s hands. Water does not harm one’s skin; however, one requires hand soap to wash a pair of oily hands! Now you know why!

Q14) Can’t I just use standard floor cleaners available in the supermarket after efflorescence has completely disappeared?

Yes, you may. However, we strongly recommend that you continue to mop the stone floor with SCL-Stoneclean as it is specially formulated to safely clean all natural stone surfaces without harming the natural crystalline structure of the stone.

This is because SCL-Stoneclean is formulated with a neutral PH balance and without wax formulas.

Q15) Can I treat my marble and granite floor with the crystallization or waxing method?

Natural stone is a porous material with small microscopic pores that allow it to “breathe”. When the stone becomes too dry, it extracts moisture from the atmosphere through its pores and when it becomes too wet, it pushes the excess moisture out through its pores.

Using crystallization and waxes will clog the stone’s pores and trap moisture and salts inside the stone, creating pressure within the stone. Over time, pressure from the trapped moisture and salt causes the pores to expand resulting in small pieces of stone breaking-off and creating holes in the surface of the stone. “Pitting” and “Oxidation” will occur.