How to Clean Travertine

55 Comments


  1. I was thinking alcohol would work – thanks for the post. FYI to all – alcohol works great on granite counter tops and windows as well!

  2. I have been using all that Vodka we get for Christmas every year using the same ratio as alcohol 1/4 cup tp 1 quart waqter.

  3. Thank you so much. I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate your priceless knowledge, research and information. We have 2,000 sq ft of travertine and it is exactly like a high maintenance beautiful woman. I ask people all the time to please take their shoes off since I clean it on my hands and knees. crazy but true.
    Thank you for everything

  4. Please someone help! I just had my Travertine floors refinished (the original builder did not use the right sealer) and the guy who just did them did and ok job but around the edges there is a white haze from the machine he used. I have tried several products to get it up. It works for a few minutes and then it comes back. Any Suggestions. Donna

    1. Author

      The bad news, from what I can tell there is no easy fix to this. It sounds like he may have not gotten a bit heavy handed with your sealant. Aside from having someone come in and professionally buff it out perhaps a little time will wear it off (since you typically have to reseal every two years, maybe as long as you make it part of the cleaning routine – make sure you get those edges when you mop – it may wear off eventually).

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  6. Ok, thank you for this information. I’m married to a Chemist and so I get ph and how it runs the world. I can also add what I do to bring back the shine to our natural stone slab stone in our bathroom. After it’s cleaned I use baby oil on a soft cloth rub it in and it acts as a sealant without the toxic fumes. It’s amazing.

    1. Author

      Awesome, I’ll have to give that a try!

      1. Thank you so much for this helpful and inexpensive way to clean travertine. I already see holes, the size of a quarter in the floors and looking for ways to patch it up too. I’m curious, did the baby oil work? Since my tavertine is in the living room and kitchen area, do you think it’s a good idea to lightly rub baby oil for that area? I really appreciate your opinion and tips.
        I’m so glad I found your site.

        1. Author

          You’re welcome, glad it helps. As to the baby oil, I have not tried it. From what I can tell the baby oil will not hurt your Travertine. It is mostly made of mineral oil, so if you are looking for an inexpensive sealer it may work, but I would think only if your stone is not already sealed. Baby/ Mineral oil is ph neutral and is used in the curation of stone artifacts that are in good shape (not chalky or chipping). If you are however looking to it as a “natural” you may want something else (particularly if you have children crawling around) since mineral oil poses some health concerns and clogs pores etc. Though, loads of people use food grade mineral oil to seal their butcher blocks and wood cutting boards – there’s good odds it won’t hurt a thing.

          The holes are not going to be helped with mineral oil. We recently had more travertine installed and it is a more rough finish and has some of these holes. We chose to leave them unfilled but our contractor did give us the option and said they are part and parcel to owning travertine. The flooring pictured in the post has a polished finish and has developed some of these holes in the high traffic areas. Its much more noticeable and we may fill those. I’m fairly certain you can just use matching grout and fill the holes up and then seal them in.

        2. I have travertine floors on the majority of my house and for holes, I found a filler specifically for travertine which is found in your local home improvement store (found mine @ Home Depot, my new best friend =))))). Two tones included, play with them to find the right mix.

          HumanPacifier
          Thank you for this inexpensive, practical tip. I will certainly try it.

    2. I know the alcohol/water works for granite. I will try it on my quartz. Now, does the baby oil step work on quartz for shine?

  7. This is AMAZING information! Thank you! I just want to verify…..is the rubbing alcohol/water mix also safe for marble floors, as well as the granite and other “natural stones”?

    1. Author

      It should be safe for all natural stone. I use it on my travertine and granite. But, I’m not a doctor 🙂

    1. Author

      Porcelain is pretty hardy to everything so I don’t see any reason that alcohol should be avoided.

  8. This article is a lifesaver….and well written! Thank you!

  9. I have limestone floors and will give this a try. I also have another problem with my stamped concrete floor in our basement. Maybe someone will have an idea. My daughter put an anti slip mat under a large rug (our floors are heated). When we went to lift it up it was stuck on like glue (probably cause of the heat). Ended up using a putty knife to scrape the mat off. Have tried several items to get this residue off with no results. Anyone?

    1. Author

      Is it safe to assume you’ve tried Goo Gone? I know it is the usual go-to for removing weird things. The only other thing that comes to mind (though may be redundant since you have heated floors) maybe try getting down there with a blow drier to see if you can get it to soften back up. Otherwise I would try to find something that would rehydrate it -my knee jerk response would be something oil-based but that may leave a stain on concrete. Or, maybe a baking soda paste and some elbow grease. Good luck, let us know if you figure it out.

  10. Iv been looking for a safe cleaner for natural stone for a while now. I am a professional cleaner.and one of my new clients let there stone shower go for a long time. and i needed something to keep it clean in between cleans.. plus i don’t like to use harsh cleaners or chemicals at all any more.. thanks. I think the alcohol act as a inhibitor towards mold and mildew regrowth as well. Im pretty sure i read that some where during my search.

  11. Great info! We are in the process of buying a house with travertine. Do you think I could use a steam cleaner on it? I don’t own one, but saw that hot water was the preferred method.

    1. I bought a steam cleaner just for cleaning travertine in the shower of the house we just purchased. I tried it out today – the shower is full of mildew and is really gross. The steamer worked fairly well but it’s very time consuming. I saw a demonstration on youtube using a steamer to clean a travertine shower. I also read somewhere that you shouldn’t seal a travertine shower. Does anyone else know anything about this? Also will the alcohol work to to clean the very dirty kitchen floor. The entire first floor is all travertine. It’s 10 years old and I don’t think it’s been maintained well.

      1. Author

        I seal mine with a stone sealer every two years, at least. I seal the grout with grout sealer. It’s the only way I know to help keep the mildew out of the grout. The alcohol should work fine to clean the kitchen – sounds like you might need some elbow grease. Perhaps your steamer?

      2. Engineered, hardwood and tile floors can be cleaned with mixture of vinegar/water.My flooring installers have told me this for years and I have done it for years with great results. Just don’t let the water puddle. I keep a spray bottle ready.

  12. We have a large walk in shower that is totally (ceiling and floor) travertine. The contractor sealed it with a seal that is supposed to last for decades but we are plagued with red slimy stuff that I assume is soap scum. We also get mildew in the grout. It’s getting harder and harder to scrub it down and I’m wondering if we can just spray this alcohol solution on it to remove these things? If so, do we scrub it down after it’s been sprayed on or just rinse it with the handheld shower spray? How long do we leave it on? Any help you can offer is *greatly* appreciated!

    1. Author

      I don’t believe just spraying it will work. Mildew, mold and the slime have to be removed manually. I know there are some spray and rinse products out there, but they are going to have chemicals and bleach which aren’t great for natural stone. But, it’s your stone so if all that is really bothering (and it would bother me!) you may try it and then reseal. At that point you could then return to your more gentle cleansers. I have yet to find a sealer that seals (especially grout) for more than a year or two. And, once the mold gets into the grout you will have to use something that can penetrate and really remove it before you seal it again.

      1. Thank you so much for your answer!

      2. How do you clean the grout between 2 x 2 squares of travertine? We have soap scum build up on the bottom of our shower floor which is made up of 2 x 2 squares of travertine and grout. Any help would be appreciated!

    2. That pink slime is bacteria. I found this “The pesky growth thrives in damp environments like bathrooms, and feeds off common toiletries, such as soap and shampoo”.

  13. Been looking for advice for 10 years w/o someone trying to sell me products – I AM PACIFIED!

  14. This is just wonderful information!!
    What about grout? The same formula? Does it need to soak?

    1. Author

      I’ve not noticed any difference in letting it soak. I would just spray and wipe.

      Grout is a different ball game. For general cleaning it should be fine but once it gets mold/ mildew in it you’ll need to upgrade your system a bit. If you don’t care what you use hit it with something containing bleach – that will kill it at the root and may be what you’ll have to do in any case, depending on how bad your mildew/ mold issue is. If you are looking for a natural and gentle grout cleaner the first step would be to just scrub it with a little brush (I got the OXO Good Grips Deep Clean Brush Set – the bristles are stiffer than a toothbrush) and your cleaner and it should come off. If you need a little more: mix your cleaner with some baking soda or sprinkle baking soda directly on it and scrub away. If you are having mildew/mold you can’t seem to get rid of when you clean normally every week or two then it may be time to reseal your grout. Make sure you get rid of the mold/mildew first or you will just seal it in an always have little black spots – this may be the time to resort to bleach or something of the ilk. The occasional use of something that abrasive should be okay for your stone (once or twice a year, not once or twice per month). I wouldn’t let it soak any longer than you need to though. So, get rid of the mildew, let it get completely dry, and seal or reseal your grout.

      1. Just wanted to make a quick suggestion – if you are needing to use a harsher, acidic product to remove mildew/mold/soap scum, please make sure to neutralize it before resealing your stone. My company sells products specifically for stone by Stone Pro and we also do restoration work. If the acidic product is not neutralized using a neutral cleaner – I would normally recommend our Crystal Clean but the water/alcohol mix might work – the acid will continue to be reactivated and could seriously damage your stone.

  15. A couple things.
    1) Baby oil has been found to contain formaldehyde (in the USA; but same leading brand sold in Europe, Asia, etc. does not have formaldehyde. I don’t see the good of having bathroom & kitchen counters coated with a product that will off-gas formaldehyde. Plus: doesn’t the oil attract dust? Everything from lint & dead skin cells, to particles wafting in from outdoors? I may try a ‘sample patch’ on counter top (or with a scrap from floor molding) and compare over time.
    2) Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) is sold in different strengths. At a local dollar store (or similar) I’ve found only bottles marked 50% strength, whereas I recently found 99% strength (which I need to be effective with ears/skin sensitive to nickel) at a major grocer–after only seeing 70% strength on the shelves for months. Now I’m wondering if your ‘effective & safe’ formula of 16 parts water to 1 part rubbing alcohol is using the the 50% concentration or 70% or 99%? And do you used warm/not water or cool? I’ve used rubbing alcohol for years for mirror cleaner, etc. and the weaker solution is ok for that. But with my extensive travertine floors & counter tops, plus the granite counter tops, I would like to be certain of what is recommended. If I use 99% rubbing alcohol, would I still do 16:1 or more like 25:1 or 30:1? If you were using either the 50% or 70% rubbing alcohol for your 16:1 success story, not the 99%, please clarify. Also, what about witch hazel? it has some alcohol in it. I’m fine with the odor of both Witch Hazel & rubbing alcohol. I dislike the heavy scenting of the pricey products sold in spray bottles. Additionally, I ordered a set of products for delivery by mail and what a mess–one of the bottles had a slow leak that turned the cardboard mailing box into a soggy mess, with most of the product leaking out. Not gonna repeat that fiasco.

    1. Did anyone answer the question about what strength alcohol – 50%, 70%, 90% etc??

      1. Author

        I’ve not found any difference between alcohol strengths – I have used 70-91%. You could certainly do a slightly different ratio of water etc. but at those levels, I don’t think it matters much. In fact, I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t really even make it precise. I just mix a basic ratio straight into the bottle.

        As far as temperature this would make no difference on the effect of the mixture. The only reason I could see it mattering is if you are using it immediately on things that have dried on the counter, but, again, probably doesn’t matter because you could also just pre-clean with warm water.

        And as for baby oil, it become quite a hot topic so I’ll address it separately in a new post.

  16. What is the most heavy duty sealant that I can buy and use on my total travertine shower, once I get rid of the terrible mold and mildew and pink bacteria? This has been a 3 year battle! Thanks


  17. Help! My cleaning lady tried cleaning my travertine showers with CLR, needless to say I now have a white film covering my stone! Will the alcohol mix remove this film?
    Thanks, any info will help

    1. Oooooh! That’s not good! The alcohol solution won’t hurt. So you can try it, but she may have etched it and that won’t come off.

      Victoria (a.k.a. the traveling Human Pacifier)
  18. Has anybody used “Swiffer WetJet” on their newly sealed Travertine tile floor? I checked the MSDS sheet, and the only ingredient that I see is Ethanol…which is basically alcohol as far as I know.

    Thoughts?

    1. I have not but that sounds fine to me too. 🙂

  19. This site is so helpful!! We just moved to a house that has sealed travertine pretty much everywhere except the bedrooms. One of our bathmats was slipping, so I put shelf liner (https://www.amazon.com/Duck-1100731-Non-Adhesive-12-Inch-20-Feet/dp/B002AS9NAI/ref=sr_1_1?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1474859739&sr=1-1&keywords=shelf+liner) under the mat to keep it from slipping. Today, I pulled the bath mat up to clean and there is a residue left behind from the liner. Should I try the alcohol/water solution to remove it? Thank you!!!

    1. You won’t hurt it by doing so. You can even soak it down if you need to soften up the residue, a bit. 🙂

  20. This is some VERY helpful information that I’ve been searching for. Thank you so much! Now, my question, can the alcohol/water mixture be used as a daily shower cleaner for Travertine?

  21. Author

    I would think so. It’s completely neutral for your stone so daily use should be fine.


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