how to remove water stains from marble

How to Remove Water Stains from Marble the Easy Way

Waters spots on marble surfaces are a very common occurrence! Unfortunately their causes can be a large misconception between marble care owners which can lead to ineffective procedures to remove the spots. This article will clear these problems up and have you removing your water stains on marble in no time!


Water Stains on Marble: The Misconception

Water spots are defined as water deposits built up on your marble surface. This occurs when water containing large amounts of mineral deposits, like calcium and magnesium (commonly called hard water), is allowed time to dry on your marble surface. After the water dries and evaporates it leaves behind these mineral deposits on your marble surface.

Once these minerals have clung to your surface is makes it easier and easier for more hard water minerals to stick to your marble. Unfortunately this means that over time you can get some serious hard water build up.

Even worse, if this hard water builds up near bar soap or soapy liquid then soap scum can begin to form. Making your problem worse and worse with time.

Once hard water is built up on your surface you will begin to see it has those characteristic dull water marks that you are so used to.

A big misconception occurs with "water spots" or "water rings" when marble owners misidentify a marble etch mark as a water mark.

An etch mark is a physical altercation of the marble surface caused when an acidic agent chemically reacts with the marble surface resulting in dissolving parts of the marble.

water stains on marble

Etch marks that are easily misidentified as a water spot

Unfortunately, this etch marks look similar to water deposits because they show up as light dull spots or rings because the mark has exposed unpolished marble and therefore looks dull compared to its polished surroundings.

The problem is that etch marks and water deposits are two completely different kinds of marble surface "stains," and therefore must be treated and removed with different procedures. 

For example, when you try to remove a etch mark using instructions for water mark removal, you are going to have no luck removing it and the result will only be frustration!

To identify these stains see the tips below, and don't worry misidentifying these marks is a very common mistake and the worst case scenario is that you try the removal methods for both etch marks and water marks, and when one method works then you will truly know your problem. 

marble water stain removal

Etch Mark that was created by an acidic liquid spilling off a glass cup

1. Marble etch marks commonly come in the shape of the object that delivered the acid agent or in small spots from a household cleaner. A very common example is a dull ring that is left from an acidic liquid that spilled from a glass cup. 

2. An etch mark is a physical alteration of the marble surface. Once the etch mark is made, a small part of the top surface of the marble will be dissolved away leaving tiny indentions in the surface. Therefore, a lot of times the marks can be identified by rubbing your fingers over the mark. It will feel rough, and also feel like the spot protrudes slightly below the surface. 

3. Water spots are actually mineral deposits on the surface. So they grow on top of the surface where an etch mark is a small indention in the surface.

4. Rub your fingers over the marble spot, if it feels raised off the surface then it is a hard water spot!

how to remove stains from marble table

Steel Wool #0000 helps remove water stains

5. If these steps don't help, use some steel wool #0000 and gently buff the top of the mark. If it begins to go away then it's a water spot! The Marble Institute of America recommends the use of Steel wool to remove water spots!

6. We do not recommend taking your finger nail and scratching at the spot. This may help remove a water spot, but can also scratch the surface.

Now that you have identified what type of marble stain you have, let's go through the process of how to remove each of them!

Your marble will be looking awesome in no time!

Remove water stains on marble

Follow our easy marble water stain removal steps below!


Use a marble cleaner and clean towel

Water spots and hard water stains can usually be removed with a marble cleaner and a soft towel. Just apply the marble cleaner to the spot, and rub with a clean towel. For more information about cleaning with marble cleaners see our marble cleaning how to guide!

Are you unsure which marble cleaner to use? We did 21 hours of research finding the best 6 marble cleaners to test. We then did 9 hours of testing on 6 different marble cleaners to find out which one had the best cleaning power. Find out who won below!


Rub Water Stain with steel wool

Our second method of removal is to use a fine steel wool grade #0000.

Dry the surface around the water stain, then rub in a circular pattern over the stain until the stain buffs out of the marble.

In most cases these two methods should be sufficient to remove the water stains. However, as we mentioned above, it is possible that soap scum could have built up on your surface around, or on top of your hard water stains. In this case we recommend using a marble cleaner that is specifically designed to remove soap scum. It is the safest and easiest method of removal!

Check out the below video, which details the process of removing soap scum and hard water stains! For more information, check out our article on soap scum removal.

The process described in the above video is really pretty simple. Just add a marble cleaner that is designed for soap scum removal to a clean towel. Then rub the surface with towel until the soap scum is removed. 

If you have not cleaned your marble surface in a while, then it is possible that the soap scum has built up enough to become a pretty stubborn stain. In this case, feel free to use a soft bristle brush and slowly rub the stain with the soap scum remover in a nice circular motion. 

After the stain has been removed, apply a marble cleaner to the surface and re-clean the surface with another clean towel to deliver a nice streak free shine!

Marble Etch Mark Removal

If the water stain removal method did not work, it is possible that you misidentified the marble stain and you may have a marble etch mark. But do not worry, the removal of etch marks is just as easily. Follow the steps below and your problem will be gone in no time! 

Check out our video on marble etch removal!

The below steps detail the etch removal process that is shown in the above video!


Wipe the marble surface clean

Above the Etch Mark, wipe the surface clean of any grit of dirt.

cover etch mark

Cover the Etch Mark with Polishing Powder

Add the Polishing Powder!

Add enough MB-11 Polishing powder to cover the stain!

Unsure which marble polishing powder to use? Check out our review of MB Stone Care's MB-11 Polishing Powder. We dive into the product, how to use it, and the solid results you will get by using it!

cover etch mark

Cover the Etch Mark with Polishing Powder

Spray Water over the Polishing Powder

Spray the polishing powder 2 to 3 times with the spray bottle to dampen the polishing powder.


Dampen the towel, and begin scrubbing the polishing powder

Spray the towel about 2 to 3 times with the spray bottle to dampen the white towel, then begin rubbing the etch mark for 20 seconds to 1 minute. The etch mark should begin to rub away.

Pro Tip:

When rubbing the marble with the polishing powder, do not apply a lot of pressure because you could scratch the marble. It is more important to rub quickly or at a high frequency until the etch mark is gone. If the mark does not go away after 20 seconds, slowly begin to apply more pressure to remove the mark.


Clean up with a marble cleaner

After the marble etch mark has been removed, spray a marble cleaner over the surface. Then wipe and clean the surface with a clean towel. Once clean and free of any extra polishing powder, dry the surface completely!

Our Recommended Marble Cleaner


We did an extensive study to determine the best marble cleaner. We did 21 hours of research, and spent 9 hours testing 6 different marble cleaners to determine the best preforming marble cleaner. Check out the review here!

If this does not remove the etch mark then we recommend letting the surface dry, and then re-trying the process one more time. Usually repetition will solve your problem, if not, it may be time to contact your local marble professional.

For more information on marble etch removal. Check out of informational and how to guide to marble etching and removal! 

In you have any more questions about marble water stain removal please comment below! We answer every single one personally!

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