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What is a Fireplace Mantel

A fireplace mantel is the decorative outside piece of a fireplace or chimney which can include elaborate designs extending over the mantel piece to the ceiling. Fireplace mantels are almost always the focal point of a room inside a house.


What’s the history of your fireplace mantel? Does it have a historical, aesthetic or sentimental value? Do you wish to pass it on to future generations? If so then you should always spend the time to have it clean and properly maintain so that your marble fireplace can last for years to come.

Because of its beauty, marble is often used to make fireplace mantels and surrounds, fountains and sculptures. Marble is a delicate surface, however, and is susceptible to staining from the smoke and soot produced by the fireplace. Marble can be scratched by abrasive cleaners, so extra care is needed when cleaning. Thankfully, there are a number of products and methods for cleaning marble fireplace settings so you can keep your hearth looking warm and beautiful.


Marble is porous and stain easily, it also discolors and deteriorates particularly in salty or polluted air. Marble can be very easily scratched and broken, and gradually dissolve in water and should be dusted regularly to prevent a build up of dirt. It is very important to read the instructions and hazard labels before you use these.

How To Clean a Marble Fireplace

List of Products

  • Distilled water - used to clean and as a neutral rinse.

  • White spirit - good for removing waxes and oily dirt.

  • 2% non-ionic detergent - available from chemists.

  • Gloves (plastic or Nitrile, not fabric) should be worn to protect the hands.


Cleaning should be carried out in a very well ventilated area, and the minimum amount of solvent should be used.

  1. Wipe, not rub gently with cotton wool barely moistened in a mixture of white spirit, distilled water and 2% mild non-ionic detergent. (This will need to be shaken regularly to maintain the mixture as an emulsion. Keep this in a clearly labeled and securely capped container and only use with Nitrile or plastic gloves.)

  2. Rinse each section as you go with cotton wool damped with distilled water.

  3. Want to liven up and protect the surface? Apply a light coat of microcrystalline wax with a soft bristled brush and buff gently with a clean white cloth.

Detergents tend to leave a residue behind on the surface which may affect the surface in other ways in the long term. If you use a detergent in a cleaning mixture, it is important to wipe over the surface thoroughly a second time using swabs slightly dampened with water.


To ensure safe handling of solvents, decant small quantities into glass or ceramic containers - this prevents contaminating your supply. Label small quantities of solvent (use the bulk container as a guide) and store all solvents appropriately, out of reach of children and away from sources of ignition etc. 

Abrasives Cleaning Products

Avoid using bleach on marble: it does not remove stains and may change its color or fix the stain permanently. Bathroom cleaners and spray cleaners often contain harsh abrasives, are acidic and have a range of additives designed to improve their cleaning performance but that will damage your marble or can 'skin' the surface, which will then be visible as dull patches pieces of historical or monetary value.

Stained Surfaces

If your marble has an all-over dark yellow-brown or orange staining this might be the result of previous treatments where a combination of chemicals, oils and beeswax was applied as a polish, permeating the structure which invariably discolors the crystalline structure. This can be complex and almost impossible to remove.


Stain removal without risking damage to the marble surface requires skill and experience. A stone expert may be able to reduce or remove some stains by poulticing. They will also be able to minimize the risk of spreading the stain and making it worse. If poulticing is not possible and your marble stain was not removed with the regular cleaning materials then you can always have the stain painted over at your discretion.


When in doubt, DO NOT CLEAN! The materials discuss here may not be appropriate for imitation marble or for similar materials.  Examine your piece in good light look for evidence of a coating, paint or gilding. If you find any, clean around them without touching them.

Marble Wax & Polishing

A light coat of wax will protect the surface of marble but is not considered essential. Use colorless wax. Don't wax white marble as it may tend to yellow it. A marble sealer can be applied to clean marble, which will protect from staining and allow dirt to be wiped off with a damp cloth.


Note: If you think your marble fireplace mantel has significant monetary value, consider having it valued, insured and professionally conserved. 

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We are not responsible and do not endorse or warrant in any way materials, goods, information, instructions or practices available throughout the website*

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