Travertine is a beautiful variety of limestone that has been used in construction for centuries, with its use dating back to Ancient Rome. In recent years, travertine countertops have grown particularly popular amongst homeowners, as travertine is a warm stone available in a variety of color variations that can enhance any kitchen. As with most natural stone countertops, travertine is extremely durable and can last decades with the right care and maintenance. However, since travertine is less dense and more porous than granite, this type of stone can be prone to staining and etching, which is why it is critical that homeowners make sure to clean their travertine countertops properly. If you are moving into a new home with travertine countertops, or you are considering travertine counters for your kitchen remodel, here is a look at a few tips on how to clean and care for your counters to ensure they last a lifetime.
Wipe Up Spills Immediately
For the most part, travertine countertops are fairly easy to clean and maintain. Warm water and a sponge or soft cloth will be your best friend in helping you clean up messes and keep your counters free from crumbs and debris. However, as we previously mentioned, travertine is softer and more porous than granite, meaning that you need to clean up spills as soon as you notice them. If something spills on your counters, wipe it up quickly, as acidic materials like tomato sauce, ketchup, carbonated beverages, and alcoholic beverages can cause etching. Additionally, dark liquids like cranberry juice and red wine can quickly seep into the porous surface, which can cause staining. Staying vigilant and wiping up spills as quickly as possible after they occur will help keep your counters looking pristine.
Use Stone Cleaner
When cleaning your countertops throughout the day, a sponge and hot water will be your best option. You should also invest in a high-quality stone cleaner that you can use to deep clean your counters once a day (or more frequently for bigger messes). You can then buff the surface dry with a cotton towel. While you can use mild soap on travertine countertops occasionally (3-4 times a year), you do not want to do this frequently as soap can dull the surface of the stone.
It is important that you invest in a quality stone cleaner (preferably one recommended by the installer), as generic products can damage your counters. While store brand cleaners can save you money up-front, these products often contain acids, alkalis, and other chemicals that can etch the travertine. These products can also degrade the sealant, leaving the stone more vulnerable to staining.
Avoid Harsh Chemicals
In general, you should only clean your travertine countertops with warm water or stone cleaner. Many of the cleaning products that you are used to using around your house contain harsh chemicals that are too abrasive for travertine and can damage your counters. Ammonia, vinegar, and even natural products containing citruses such as lemon and orange can all cause damage to your stone counters over time and should be avoided. When in doubt, consult a professional countertop installer for advice on what products are safe to use on travertine.
While stone countertops are known for their durability, taking extra precautions to protect your travertine counters will go a long way in ensuring they maintain their beauty for years to come. An easy way you can protect your counters is by making sure to use a coaster under all drinks including glasses, bottles, and cans, particularly if you are drinking anything dark and/or acidic. Using coasters under your drinks can help prevent acidic drinks from etching the stone and leaving a “glass ring” on your countertops.
Make a Poultice
Of course, accidents happen, and at some point you may spill red wine without realizing it, causing your granite countertops to stain. Fortunately, not all hope is lost, as the right strategies can help you to remove the stain and return your counters to their former glory. If you discover a stain on your travertine that you cannot remove with stone cleaner, you should try making a poultice. Do this by combining a formulated stone cleaner and baking powder to form a paste. You should then smooth this paste over the stain and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the poultice stand for a few days and it will slowly start to draw the stain out. You can then remove the poultice with warm water and buff your counters with a cotton cloth.
Seal Your Counters Regularly
Of course, the best way to keep your counters looking pristine is to seal them regularly. Resealing your travertine countertops every couple of years will help to protect them from becoming stained in the first place, but you will still need to be careful as this will not prevent etching. Fortunately, sealing your stone countertops is much easier than most people believe. Simply buy a high-quality sealant at your local hardware store, and then follow the instructions on the bottle to ensure your countertops are protected. If you are unsure how to seal your countertops, you can always contact your countertop installer to find out about having them sealed professionally. This small preventative measure will go a long way in protecting your investment in your home.
Travertine countertops have demonstrated that they are able to withstand the test of time, and by taking the right steps to clean and care for your travertine counters, they will last as long as you live in your home. Feel free to contact us to learn more if you have travertine countertops and are unsure of what cleaning products to use, or you are considering remodeling your kitchen and need help deciding if travertine is the right option for you. We can help you find the right countertops and stone cleaners to meet your needs.