FOR a really dirty surround, try hand washing soap flakes (Ph neutral) dissolved in a bucket of water, and clean intricate marble details with a soft toothbrush skimmed through the suds rather than dribbling water over your hands. Wipe the whole surround off with a touch dry, micro-fibre cloth rinsed out in several changes of clean water, finishing with a dry chamois. Don’t allow the stone to just air-dry.
Again, finish with a dedicated marble polish, following the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. Consider investing in a stone sealer if your marble is completely bald and vulnerable, especially if you use the fire- place regularly.
For stubborn stains from soot to rust, there are naturally based DIY ‘poultices’ promoted online using baking soda, bleach, white spirit or even milk. Bound to the surface of the marble on torn up kitchen towel secured with plastic tape they are intended to sit for up to two hours to draw the dirt out of the stone, often demanding repeated applications. If you want to have a go, dilute hydrogen peroxide or acetone (removed and cleaned again with a damp cloth) is one of the gentler mixtures to magic out rings from dribbled mugs. Still, treat any recipe with extreme caution.
Chemically dissolving any stain, can cause it to just spread deeper and further. If you put any cleaner on marble, wipe it off with pure (preferably distilled) water as any gunge left on the fireplace will catch more dust and dirt. For paint spatters, acommondisfigurementfor a fireplace in a room for a couple of centuries, try your finger-nail before taking to a small flat blade — the danger of scoring the fireplace is very high. For a valuable fireplace or one with any architectural merit, call in a specialist who can not only clean the surfacing but has tools to wet sand and buff the fireplace back to a gorgeous shine.
Never dump cups of tea or glasses of wine on any white marble mantle, and if you’re using the mantle as a shelf for flowers or plants over the summer, ensure you place it on a waterproof dining mat or some sort of protective coaster. Coloured candle wax on pale marble can be disastrous, leaving a penetrating stain if not removed immediately. Vintage marble is soft, very soft, and if you start scrubbing away at it, the polished surface will dull and scratch. Wipe up stains the instant they happen. If you’re looking at a white fire surround from a salvage yard, fight shy of very yellowed-out pieces which may have drunk down decades of beeswax polishes, smoke stains and improper sealants which are virtually impossible to remove.
An antique vintage marble fireplace is a stunning addition to any room but requires care when cleaning and may call for specialist maintenance on occasion.