A marble floor can drastically enhance the appearance of a home, office building or other establishment. The natural, smooth stone arrangement has a look of modern class as well as traditional elegance. But if you're new to marble floor cleaning, there are some essential things you should know before you start pouring potentially dangerous solvents onto the stone surface.

First and foremost, you'll need to find a cleaning solution safe for natural stone surfaces. Many conventional floor cleaners and natural all-purpose cleaning solutions can cause permanent damage to a marble floor. Acids, in particular, can seep into the microscopic pores and slow weaken the stone, etching or ultimately dissolving sections of the stone completely. So you'll want to avoid any cleaning solutions that contain acetic acid (like vinegar), citric acid (like lemon juice and lemon-based floor cleaners), phosphoric acid (like certain detergents) and any other acids.

Chemicals are also of serious concern. If you have a mold or mildew problem, you can occasionally clean your marble floor with bleach, diluted extremely heavily with water. But for routine cleaning, you will want to limit your use of chemicals altogether, as they can wear or discolor the marble over time.

So where does that leave you? For best results, you should stick with a floor cleaner specifically designated for marble floors. You might see them advertised as “Marble Floor Cleaner” or “Stone Cleaner.” Read the label carefully and mix the stone cleaner with water if recommended by the manufacturer.

Alternately, you can use a pH neutral cleaner. These safe, non-acidic cleaning solutions are available at home improvement stores, and can shine your marble floor without causing any damage. Once again, make sure to read the label before getting down to business.

After selecting your cleaning solution, pour the solution (with water, if necessary) into a bucket and use a soft dust mop to clean your entire marble floor. Let the solution sit for approximately 1 hour and then rinse. You can let your marble floor air dry, but water spots may appear, especially on white and light-colored marble. For best results, use towels to dry your marble by hand.

These basic principles can apply to other types of stone floor as well, particularly granite and limestone. When dealing with any natural stone surface (whether a floor, wall, counter top or anything else), always use caution to ensure that the stone maintains its like-new appearance for years to come.