Many people assume that they know how to care for travertine stone in their homes because they’ve maintained marble and granite successfully in the past. However, travertine is a very unique natural stone that is fundamentally different from other natural materials like granite and marble. The most common stones used in home construction are what are called metamorphic stones. This means that the natural materials are pressurized and heated to emerge with a natural shine or sparkle. By contrast, natural travertine forms tiny pores caused by the presence of carbon dioxide during the settling process. None of this means that travertine isn’t an ideal option in your home. However, you will need to learn how to clean travertine floors to keep your stones in top condition. Travertine stone that is maintained properly can last for decades!
How to Clean Travertine Floors: The Basics
It’s helpful to run through the basics of properly and safely cleaning travertine floors before grabbing the mop and bucket. First, the permeability of travertine floors means that any product you place on the stone will be absorbed easily. Unfortunately, that means that the wrong cleaner can actually stain or discolor your floors. It’s so important to read labels on cleaning products to ensure that you’re using a product that’s suitable for travertine floors. Here’s a list of products to avoid when cleaning travertine:
- Anything highly acidic.
- Anything highly alkaline.
- Anything harsh or abrasive.
- Citrus-based cleaners containing things like lemon or orange.
When possible, look for pH-neutral cleaners to avoid altering the look or texture of your floors. It’s also important to do a “spot test” when using a new cleaner for the first time. This simply entails dabbing a small amount of the cleaning solution on a low-key area of your floor to test how your stone reacts. The last big “don’t” item on the list involves your technique. Avoid using a mop that is soaked when cleaning your travertine floors. Unfortunately, a soaked mop that allows moisture to seep into the pores of your stone can cause damage.
How to Clean Travertine Floors: The Breakdown
Once you’ve identified a safe cleaner, you can get to work on making your stone floors look fresh and new. Buy a fresh mop that hasn’t been used before to avoid any cross-contamination with non-approved cleaning products. Begin by removing any dust or debris that could be on the floor. This can be done with a good sweeping. Vacuuming with travertine can be tricky due to the threat of scratches. If you’ll be vacuuming, make sure you’re using a setting that’s safe for hard floors to avoid leaving unsightly scratches behind on your beautiful travertine. Next, prepare your solution by mixing it with warm water. With travertine, warm water is preferred because it does a good job of cutting through dirt. Here’s a step-by-step guide to cleaning travertine floors effectively:
- Dip your mop in your bucket of solution and warm water.
- Before letting the mop touch the floor, wring it out thoroughly.
- Begin mopping your floor gently.
- Stop to wring your mop regularly.
- Dump your cleaning solution and water in the sink once you’re confident that your floors are sufficiently cleaned.
- Next, fill the bucket with fresh water that is slightly cold.
- Following the same pattern on your floor, go over your stones with the fresh water.
There’s one more step once you’ve done the two-step process of using warm and cold water to clean your travertine floors. One of the best ways to preserve the beauty of your travertine floors is to dry them thoroughly after washing them. Many people simply use a soft towel or cloth to dry their floors by hand. The benefit of doing this by hand is that you can ensure that no water has been left behind to pool or linger. Taking away that excess moisture is going to help to preserve the lifespan of your floors and prevent water damage.
How Often Should You Clean Travertine Floors?
A big mopping session is just one component of keeping travertine floors looking clean and beautiful! Generally, you’ll want to focus on giving your travertine floors a deep clean at least once a week using a combination of a mop and travertine-friendly cleaning solution mixed with warm water. It’s important to sweep your travertine tiles daily because allowing dirt to build up on this type of stone can cause it to look dull. You also won’t need to “soak” your tiles quite so much during your deep mopping session if you’re removing dirt as it forms. The other danger of allowing dirt to linger is that it can actually scratch your tile if it gets dragged across the floor as people shuffle around. You also want to be vigilant about never allowing spills to linger. Due to the porous nature of travertine, spills from juices or oils can leave behind stains. One smart way to address a stain that appears to have settled into your travertine is to use a poultice that will “draw out” the stain. Typically, applying a store-bought or homemade poultice paste for between 24 and 48 hours is enough to draw out a stain.
What About Sealing Travertine?
Sealing travertine can be a great option for preserving your stone while repelling stains. You can do your research to see if you prefer a penetrating sealer or surface sealer. A penetrating barrier works by clogging the pores of your travertine to prevent moisture from seeping in to cause staining or damage while maintaining a natural, rugged look. With a surface-barrier sealer, you’re actually forming a glossy coat over the tile to create a “film” that prevents liquids from penetrating.
The bottom line is that you can’t ignore cleaning duties for travertine floors just because you’re intimidated by the porous nature of this stone. Ignoring cleaning duties can cause travertine to age prematurely. Using gentle, non-acidic cleaners with a well-rinsed mop is the key to giving your stone what it needs to stay fresh without causing damage!