White stain on marble or granite bathroom vanity

by Tami
(Bowie MD)

Marble etching

Marble etching "Water Mark" on bathroom vanity top

Marble etching
Marble etching water mark


We just purchased a new home and the bathroom marble vanity top has this white stain on one corner.

Acutally, I am not sure if this is a marble vanity top or granite.

The stain is next to the sink and looks to be in the outline of a spray cleaner.

I'm assuming someone laid a non-approved cleaner on the surface which leaked.

The texture of the stain is gritty and seems to be raised from the surface of the stone, but is unable to be dislodged by a fingernail.

Is there some sort of poultice or kit we could buy or do we have to call in the marble repair professionals?

If a professional is recommended, what is the best way to find one in the DC area? Thanks in advance for all your help!


This is a marble vanity top and the "stain" is not actually a true stain, although it seems that way.

This is an example of marble etching caused by chemical corrosion.

You guessed right... some type of harsh cleaner (nearly all typical household cleaners are bad for marble) or possibly an acidic personal product (mouthwash, perfume, shaving cream), food or drink was spilled on the surface.

To restore the color and shine use the Marble Polishing Etch Remover paste, which is engineered just for this purpose.

It's easy to use, specific for acid etching marble repair and works very well.

Just to clarify....

A marble stain occurs when something absorbs into the marble causing a dark spot.

Marble etching occurs upon contact with an acidic or alkaline substance leaving a dull and light-colored spot. But there is nothing "on" the marble. It is physical damage to the marble surface, which is why you get a rough feel and the dullness.

The shiny surface layer has been chemically eroded.

So, if anything the etched area will actually be a depression and not raised. Feeling a lip or edge is some type of perception illusion.

The Etch Remover paste recommended above will repolish the more raw marble back into a smooth shine that matches the surrounding surface finish.

Here's more information about marble polishing and etching and cleaning marble.

To prevent acid etching be sure to use only products safe for cleaning marble and use trays and shelves to store hygiene products, coasters for drinks, etc.

Unfortunately, applying a marble sealer will help prevent stains, but not etching.

Most etching is mild enough that the paste does the trick, but if the etching is too severe and very rough, then a marble repair and restoration pro will be needed.

To find a qualified stone restoration professional (if needed) in your area, call around to local stone warehouses, stone fabricators and installers and ask for recommendations, look in your phone book as well.

Stone restoration is a high-skill job. Repairing a small etch mark such as in this case is not difficult. Most often it can be done by the homeowner as described above and/or a typical stone fabricator should know how to re-polish small areas of marble etching.

However, for major stone restoration projects (entire floor or countertop re-finishing) you'll want a person/company dedicated solely to restoration.

It's harder than it sounds to find such a craftsman, which is what you want. Many companies/individuals claim to know what they are doing, but in reality don't have sufficient experience or skill and/or use questionable techiques and methods like marble "crystallization".

So, when in need of significant stone restoration due to extensive wear, staining or marble etching do your homework, find out the exact method used and get references. You are looking for the most qualified pro... not the best deal.

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Great post
by: Alice

Very helpful post. This is the best information I have found so far, thank you!

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Water Marks on Honed White Marble Countertop

by Patricia
(Caldwell, NJ)


I have a white marble counter top in my kitchen.

When the light hits the surface at a certain angle, I can see the outline of circles from glasses, the outline of my cutting board, and other round and odd shapes which appear to be water marks from spills.

There is no discoloration. We have a water softener. Any thoughts about removal of the marks? Thank you.


Patricia, what you have are "etch marks" often called "water marks" because they are clear as if caused by water.

Marble is sensitive to acidic foods and substances and will corrode when in contact with these. A little of the marble gets eaten away causing marble etching. It is physical damage. It is not a stain.

Acid etching is much more noticeable on polished (shiny) marble and since you can see them only at certain angles and probably can't feel them, they are relatively mild.

You note the marble is honed, which is a matte or non-reflective surface although it may have a bit of a sheen.

It's important to be sure which type of finish the marble has because the remedy for each is different.

Also, you note that you have many spots. Typically in this situation I'd recommend you have it resurfaced by a marble repair professional.

You can remove a couple small, mild etch marks yourself, but with multiple etch marks you'll get the best overall results with professional help.

If you want to give it a DIY try the procedure for removing etch marks on either honed or polished marble is thoroughly explained with step-by-step instructions in our Cleaning Marble Secrets Guide.

This manual also covers all other marble cleaning and maintenance issues with proven solutions.

Given your marble is in the kitchen, the comprehensive information and guidance will be very helpful to you to prevent problems and fix them when they occur.

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Cleaning Marble Circles & Other Marks


I am in possession of an old wash stand with a very dirty marble vanity top. It has circles, other marks and generally dingy.

What is the best and easiest way to clean this top?

How should I care for this vanity in the future?


If the marble is just generally dirty and grimy..... then I'd recommend first using the De-Greaser / Wax Remover / Stripper.

This excellent product will clean off anything on the surface that can be cleaned off... but you may have other issues to deal with after this step.

Marble Stains

Now of course, it's possible that you also have stains (substances absorbed into the marble vs. dirt on the surface). Once below the surface, stains cannot be removed by rubbing and scrubbing with any cleaner.

You'll find complete step-by-step instructions how to remove marble stains in the Removing Stains Manual.

I'd start with the De-Greaser Cleaner, then see what you have to deal with next. If stains are present, your next step is to get them out.

Marble Etching

The "circles" are most likely etch marks, which is corrosive damage from acidic substances and harsh cleaning products.

These marks are not stains. Stains and etching are different. Etch marks cannot be "cleaned," but they can be restored.

It's a matter of removing something vs. repairing damage to the countertop surface.

You'll tackle the circles and other etch marks after thoroughly cleaning the stone and removing all stains.

To remove marble etching use Marble Etching Remover / Polishing product. This product is for use on a "polished" finish only.

For marble cleaning and maintenance, be sure to use only products safe for use on natural stone. For regular cleaning I recommend this Granite Countertop & Marble Cleaning spray.

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Water Marks on Marble Table


I had no idea marble was so delicate and sensitive to moisture.

There are several "rings" from dishes on my marble dining table.

From now on we use place mats, coasters etc.

But what can I do to get the dull rings and stains off my once beautiful table?

Thank you so much for any advice!!!


The rings you describe are from acids corroding the marble. Marble is made of calcite crystals, which react to acids.

It's called etching. The rings are like a chemical burn that destroys the "finished" layer (whether polished or honed) leaving a dull spot or ring.

Luckily rings and marks from acid etching can be easily removed on polished marble using the Marble Etching Remover / Polishing paste (see link to product above).

On honed marble, the best advice is to call in a marble repair professional to restore the surface.

However, satisfactory results are usually achieved using the DIY techniques for a honed finish in the Removing Etch Marks ebook.

Most often marble etching occurs from a spill or using the wrong cleaning products, but can occur in a variety of mysterious ways sometimes, such as residue from acidic dish washing soap left on the dishes or glasses.

So, yes use coasters, trivets and place mats and follow all other recommended Marble Cleaning Do's & Don'ts.

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How To Remove Marble Water Marks

by Frank


Looks like water marks, but will not come off. Looks like the finish is off, but still feels smooth to the touch.

The marble coffee table is white in color with black veins in it.


Frank, what you have is a simple case of "etching". The marks you see were not caused by water... at least not "pure" water.

Marble will react to acidic foods, drinks, and products to cause such spots.

Some city water supplies are acidic enough to cause marble etching. And water softeners, when not set up correctly can make the water acidic.

It does look like the finish or marble polish has come off because it has! Or rather the smooth/shiny surface has been destroyed.

When an acidic substance contacts the marble it eats into the marble removing the surface layer leaving a dull, light-colored spot.

This occurs on all marble, but it is most visible on a "polished" (shiny) finish.

Good news is that etch marks on polished marble can be easily removed (especially when spots are still smooth) using the ETCH REMOVER / Marble Polishing product (see links this page).

Very easy to use and a little goes a long way. This paste will restore the polish on the spots and will even spruce up the rest of your marble countertop!

In the future use coasters for drinks and set products onto decorative trays rather than right on the marble.

Also, use only products safe for cleaning marble.

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White Writing Marks on Marble Vanity

by Bobbie
(Murfreesboro, TN)


I have just had a marble countertop installed in my bathroom.

The installers had written on the top of the marble indicating where the hole would be cut for the sink and also wrote other information on the top.

I am not quite sure what they wrote with however the top surface of the writing was in white, which came off easily with soap and water.

Even though the white markings came off you can still see and read what was written on the surface.

I have contacted the company to inquire about what I should use to remove these marking, however, I have been unable to get the owner to respond to my phone call.

Would you have any suggestions as to how this can be cleaned off of the marble or do you think that it is something that can't be removed and I now have a damaged piece of marble?

I have no picture to attach and even if I did it probably would not show up in a picture for you to view.


It sounds like whatever they wrote with has etched the marble.

Etching occurs upon contact with anything acidic or even very alkaline. It's basically corrosion... a bit of the marble is destroyed leaving a dull and sometimes discolored spot.

So, the type of ink or marking material was caustic.

Often you only notice etching when looking at a certain low angle or in certain light unless severe.

So, obviously it's the installers fault and responsibility to fix this, but you can fix the marks DIY style with the Marble Etching Remover / Polishing paste (see link above).

This product is made specifically to remove and restore etching on polished marble (travertine and limestone too) and is very easy to use.

From what you are describing, I don't think you have severe etching (which would require professional help) so the marble polishing product will take care of the problem.

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