Can Toothpaste Harm Marble Countertops
“I dropped Toothpaste on my Marble countertop. Can it be fixed” – Theresa M.
We receive many calls and emails each week with a similar question like Theresa’s above. My usual reply is “Maybe, but we need more information”. This question doesn’t really describe the nature of the problem. Is the marble stained? Is the marble etched (polish dull), so we always ask for more information.
In the case of Theresa, the toothpaste indeed did dull the shiny polished surface. We call this etching, and it most often happens on marble surfaces when an acid comes into contact with a calcium based stone like Marble, Onyx, Travertine, and many types of Limestone. Acids dissolve calcareous stone. When an acid comes into contact with calcareous stone (marble, etc.) it burns, eats away the top layer of the stone. This top layer is what reflects light and gives polished marble and other stones it “Shine”.
As noted above in the Google Search, the pH of toothpaste varies significantly from acids (anything below pH7.0 to bases (alkaline) above pH neutral. So the quick take-away is that SOME toothpastes can damage marble surfaces.
Depending on the severity of the damage, many “Oops” moments can be repaired. In the case of light etching, many areas can be improved by using a polishing paste that is made specifically for marble. HMK Stone Care makes a great polishing compound called P21 Polishing Paste.
You use P21 much like you would use a polishing compound for rubbing out a scratch on the paint of your car. I like to use a split microfiber polishing cloth when using P21 because it helps to smooth out the micro-etches or scratches on the marble and helps to get better results.
Squeeze out a quarter sized dollop of P21 on the corner of the cloth, and buff vigorously massaging the paste into the scratch or etched area. Buff area in circular motions and apply more product onto the cloth as needed. Think of the P21 Polishing Paste as a sandpaper paste which is progressively smoothing the etch marks and developing a shine. When you feel you have buffed and polished until you feel like your arm is about to fall off, then buff off any excess with the clean portion of the microfiber cloth. Repeat as necessary.
Many minor surface scratches and etch marks can be removed or greatly enhanced by using the HMK P21 Polishing Paste. For larger areas, we have a larger unit size in a .5 Liter jar.
If you have questions about natural stone, or have a specific problem, please email us with as many details as possible.