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Removing rust stains from white marble

Jasonofoz's picture

Anyone have any luck removing a rust stain from white marble. Also what is the best way to polish it if it's pretty beat up?


(post #60244, reply #1 of 12)

Be VERY CAREFUL- this is a tricky one.  Marble is very acid-sensitive- remember, it's just limestone that's been squished and heated by the earth.  Most of the acidic products you might try (CLR, oxalic acid cleaners etc.) that work well on iron stains are probably going to eat the marble for breakfast.  Whatever you do, stay away from acidic stuff.

I'd suggest an alkaline chelating agent, something with EDTA in it or the like, but don't know how well they'd work.  I don't have a product name off hand that will do the job for certain.  Ammonia-containing stuff like Windex would be safe to try, but again dunno how well it would work for iron.  Alkaline bleach materials (tub & tile cleaners, Comet etc.) might be worth a try, but probably won't lift the iron completely even with a lot of scrubbing. 

There's probably a stone or tile guy out there who'll give you the goods on how to polish marble, but it's no doubt a slow, painstaking and labour-intensive process without the right equipment. 

(post #60244, reply #2 of 12)


Wet a cloth with acetone and cover with piece of plastic and a weight. If that doesn't pull out the stain use a rust remover for a short time and rinse well with water. I've polished with a random orbit and 3M micron paper.


(post #60244, reply #3 of 12)

Can you actually get micron paper sanding disks for a random orbit?


(post #60244, reply #5 of 12)

Acetone will have absolutely no effect on a rust stain.  Anything acetone will do, you could accomplish with soap, water and non-scratching scouring (i.e. with a plastic scouring pad)- which (hopefully) has been tried already.

As for the "rust remover for a short period of time", that's fine- but risky, since all of them are acidic and marble is not acid-resistant.  Have some baking soda and lots of water on hand to neutralize the "rust remover" if it makes the marble "fizz" before it takes out the rust...If you're going this route, maybe try diluting the rust remover and adding it in limited quantities.  If you're going to re-polish afterward, maybe a little pock-marking from acid etching of the marble won't bother you much.

(post #60244, reply #6 of 12)

Molten's right - acid eats marble.  I can vouch for that having been in a number of marble caves in Sequoia Nat'l Park and the Marble Mountains of California.  Eroded (not yet decorated) passage is prettier than a limestone cave because of the veins and stripes of color.  But we're talking 2' to 10' diameter holes made very very weak acidic rainwater (albeit over a very long time).

But is that a bad thing?  If you could remove a thin layer in a uniform manner, wouldn't that be an answer?  Start with acid washing and then some sanding if any high spots remain.  Something weak and cheap like vinegar or orange juice or Tang.

Follow-up question:  If he gets the iron stain off (and doesn't add iron removal to his water supply) how to prevent the same problem in the future?  Any coatings that would be more cleanable?  Resistent to acid so future cleaning would be easy?  A good two-part epoxy (West System, System 3, etc) comes to mind.  Paint on a tin coating at the right temperature and you'd get a nice smooth finish.  Probably need to use non-abrasive cleaners henceforth but when the iron stains came back, you could just fill the sink with a dilute vinegar solution with little worry.

David Thomas   Overlooking Cook Inlet in Kenai, Alaska
David Thomas   Overlooking Cook Inlet in Kenai, Alaska

(post #60244, reply #7 of 12)

Actually acetone worked great. I'm not trying any acid cleaner. I've got a bunch of marble and it's all stained. I been using acetone first which seems to have drawn out most of the rust stains and then I've been using Tilelabs marble cleaner for a few days which gets the rest of the bad stains out. Then I'm soaking it in a 35% hydrogen peroxide soulution to get the rest of the dullness out. It's working great, I just wish it did not take so long. I've only got two parts completely clean, but the others on the way. Guess I'll be working on light fixtures tonight.


Thanks for all the help eveybody

question (post #60244, reply #11 of 12)

can you please send a link to buy the tirelabs marble cleaner? trying to follow your steps.

Holly (post #60244, reply #12 of 12)

google Tilelabs as a start, you'll get no reply to the older post.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


(post #60244, reply #8 of 12)


I know the rust stain and some other stains will be picked up as the acetone evaporates and be attracted to the cloth, talc works as a poltice also.


(post #60244, reply #9 of 12)

Cool!  I love to be wrong when I learn something new!  Guess it doesn't matter that iron rust doesn't dissolve in acetone, if the evaporating acetone pumps the solid out to the cloth!

Removing rust from marble (post #60244, reply #10 of 12)

I have a marble bathroom counter. The soap dispenser had a piece of metal on the bottom and caused dark rust stains on the entire side of the counter. I rubbed the area with half a lemon and squeezed the rest of the juice out, then let it sit for 3-4 minutes. I sprinkled baking soda over that and scrubbed lightly with a toothbrush, adding more until it was the consistence of syrup. Again, I let it sit maybe 2 minutes. Then I wiped it off with a paper towel and the marble was PERFECTLY CLEAN!