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How To Remove Ink Stains from Natural Stone

Maybe you do the crossword at your breakfast counter, have artistic kids sketching on the marble floor, maybe there was simply a leaky pen; but however the ink got on the natural stone surfaces of your home, it definitely needs to be removed. The materials in natural stone may vary - marble and granite are common choices for the home. This means that the surfaces vary both in their reaction to stains and to methods for stain removal. The solutions here are designed to be as universal as possible, but may contain pointers for different compositions and colors of stone.

Use a cotton swab dipped in liquid cleaning agent to remove ink stains. For dark colored natural stone surfaces use acetone as your liquid cleaning agent. For light colored surfaces use 20% hydrogen peroxide. Keep a soft cloth or sponge dampened with water handy to wipe away the cleaning agent promptly after the stain has been removed. Apply the swab soaked in cleaning agent directly to the ink stain, working about an inch at a time. Between sections, wipe with the damp cloth or sponge to prevent the cleaning agent from sitting on the natural stone for too long and potentially damaging the surface. Repeat the process if the ink mark is not sufficiently lightened, again working about an inch at a time. Once the entire area has been cleaned, remove the cleaning agent residue with a clean soft sponge, free of soap, wet with water. Use a squeegee to wick away extra moisture and avoid over-wetting and pooling that may damage your countertop and encourage build-up. If you are concerned about hard water marks on marble, try substituting distilled water for your tap water.

For really set-in or large volume stains, make a poultice out of the appropriate liquid cleaning agent and flour. Place between 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup of flour in a shallow dish according to the size of the ink mark. Remember, for light colored stones, use hydrogen peroxide (20% strength) and for dark colored stones, use acetone as a liquid cleaning agent. Add the liquid cleaning agent to the flour 1 tsp at a time, working into the flour gradually to form a paste. Set aside. Apply the flour poultice to the area with plastic spatula or spoon. Try to be as accurate as possible, and only put the poultice on the areas that are marked by ink. Cover with plastic wrap and press firmly. Poke holes in the plastic wrap with a toothpick or fork. Allow the poultice to dry for up to 24 hours. After 24 hours, remove and discard the plastic wrap and allow the poultice to continue to dry. Once completely dry, remove and discard the poultice. If there is still an ink mark remaining, you may have to repeat the process. Once you are satisfied with the ink mark removal process, apply a small amount of neutral pH soap like Dove to a clean, soft sponge dampened with water. With a more porous natural stone surface, over-wetting should be avoided. Sponge the affected area to remove remaining residue from the poultice/ink. Once the entire area has been cleaned, remove the soap residue with a clean soft sponge, free of soap, wet with water. Use a squeegee to wick away extra moisture and avoid over-wetting and pooling that may damage your countertop and encourage build-up. If scratching or discoloration is revealed underneath the stain, such as when a ball-point pen has damaged the surface, it may be possible to use a paint pen/stick of matching color to camouflage the damage.

Keep in mind that stone materials of unknown origin, materials which have been dyed, materials which have been misrepresented by the vendor, etc. may react unpredictably or unfavorably to stain removal methods. Stone that has been artificially darkened, for example, may be discolored undesirably through the use of liquid cleaning agents like acetone. Stains resistant to removal through normal methods and stains of unknown origin may require the assistance of a professional. Familiarize yourself with the materials in and near the area you wish to clean to avoid damaging the material. Keep clean dry paper towels or soft rags at hand to promptly wipe up stray cleaner that has landed on an incompatible material. Natural stone countertops are best cared for with mild pH neutral products, and may periodically benefit from being re-sealed so that they can continue to resist stains and other substances that may corrode the counter's surface.

Caution: Never mix cleaning agents or chemicals, the result can be dangerous or deadly. Before cleaning, always test the agent on an inconspicuous location to determine its suitability and to make certain it does not damage the material. Wear appropriate clothing such as gloves and protective eyewear, and work in a well-ventilated area.

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