How to clean and maintain your travertine tiles

Cleaning Travertine: Do’s & Don’ts

Use the following Do’s and Don’ts to learn how to clean travertine, help you avoid bad habits and establish a safe method for travertine maintenance.

Also, check out the General Care & Cleaning Guide for the best tips on maintaining all types of countertop surfaces and floor tile.

Do: Blot up spills immediately. As noted above, travertine tile is much more sensitive than granite to acidic substances like wine, coffee, fruit juices, tomato sauce, sodas, toiletry products and cleaning products that can etch (dull) the finish (on both shiny “polished” and matte “honed” finishes) or stain the surface.

Do: Clean surfaces using a sponge or soft cloth. The only cleaning agents you should use on a regular basis are hot water to wipe up crumbs and small messes and then a stone cleaner once daily (or as needed for bigger messes).

I recommend the Granite & Marble Spray Cleaners here.

Buff dry with a cotton cloth or chamois. Using a mild soap occasionally (3-4 times a year) for cleaning travertine won’t harm the stone, but consistent use will dull the surface with a soap film.

Do: Use coasters under all glasses, bottles and cans. Bottles, cans and glasses with acidic drinks may etch the polish or damage the surface leaving a “glass ring.”

So make cleaning travertine easy and avoid expensive marble polishing and marble restoration by treating your travertine surfaces like fine wood furniture. Always use coasters… no matter what.

Do: Use a tray for toiletry products in the bathroom. A decorative tray can look very nice and it will protect the surface from the damaging chemicals contained in many toiletry products.

Do: Dust mop your travertine floor tiles regularly.   Use a clean, dry, non-treated dust mop. Be careful using a vacuum cleaner. Worn parts or grit jammed by the wheels may scratch the surface. Also, mop regularly using a specialized stone floor cleaner.

TIP: Travertine polishing on floor tile makes a very slick surface, so go with a “honed”, “flamed” or “tumbled travertine” floor tile. It will look warm and inviting and hide dust and dirt better.

Also, travertine’s distinctive voids and holes should be filled upon installation to keep dirt from accumulating.

Do: Use doormats inside and out along with runners and area rugs. Grit, dirt and sand carried in by our shoes are abrasive and will wear and scratch travertine floor tiles.

Don’t: Use generic, store-bought cleaning products of ANY kind. Cleaning travertine with products bought at your local store that contain acids, alkalis, and other chemicals can etch or damage the countertop or tile surface or degrade the sealant leaving the stone more vulnerable to staining.

It may not happen right away and trying to save money by using cheap, generic surface cleaners only ensures that you’ll spend a lot  more time and money on your travertine care in the long-run performing expensive repairs or travertine restoration.

Don’t: Use vinegar, ammonia, lemon or orange for cleaning travertine.  As noted above, a sponge with hot water and a stone cleaner are the only agents to use.

Don’t: Use a generic bathroom, tub & tile or grout cleaner. The powders and even the “soft” creams contain abrasives that will scratch and dull the surface.

Use only products specially formulated for cleaning travertine like the STONE CARE products recommended.

Don’t: Sit or stand on your countertops. Unlike laminate countertops, travertine countertops are not flexible and they DO NOT have a plywood backing, so too much weight in one spot could cause a crack.

Don’t: Place toiletry products directly on your countertop surface.  Hair products, toothpaste, perfumes, colognes, nail products, creams, lotions, and potions may stain or damage the surface or etch the finish leaving a dull spot or ring. Protect your countertop by placing these products on a decorative tray like they do in fancy hotels!

Consider the Roman Colosseum

OK. I know it  seems like there is a lot to do and know about cleaning travertine, but if you think about it most of the Do’s and Don’ts are things you already do and don’t do! And the new tips you’ve learned about how to clean travertine are really very easy.

The Roman Colosseum is made of travertine, so we know it is durable. Plus, travertine can be repaired or restored in most cases when damaged.

The best advice is to get a separate cleaning tote for your travertine cleaning products and the products you use on other surface types you may have . . . such as granite, quartz or Corian.

Label everything and off you go–no problems or guesswork. This is especially handy if you use a cleaning service. You’ll never have to worry that you or the maid might accidentally use the wrong product. Cleaning travertine is simply a matter of routine.

Just keep in mind that travertine has stood the test of time and it is meant to be used. So with just a little TLC, you’ll enjoy its beauty for years.