An "etch mark" is caused by acids in foods and drinks and by harsh cleaners (which includes many common household cleaners).
When the acidic liquid or substance comes in contact with marble (or other calcitic stones like travertine, limestone, and onyx) the acid rapidly reacts with the marble creating a dull or light-colored chalky spot. Sometimes these spots can only be seen at a certain angle.
This is a common marble maintenance issue and can be repaired. The type of repair depends on the type of finish (polished or honed) on the marble.
For a polished finish, Stone Care: ETCH REMOVER / Marble Polishing Powder will restore the shine and color of the damaged area. This product is designed to restore small mild to moderate etch marks (which most are). However, if the damage covers a very large area, is very severe (rough to the touch), or an entire surface is etched, then hiring a marble restoration professional may be more appropriate.
NOTE: This product will not work on black, dark brown, or green marble.
You'll also need Stone Care: Granite & Marble Cleaning Spray (1 QT) to neutralize the powder and properly clean the stone after applying the powder to the etch mark. This cleaner is then used for general cleaning after the repair.
Using the Etch Remover product is very simple and effective, although different than a "cleaner". It isn't just a wipe on, wipe off. The powder is re-polishing the damaged area, so the powder must be rubbed on the etch mark until it is restored.
However, this is not done in one long application. It's best to make several small/short applications using a new spoonful of powder each time until the shine and color are restored.
1. Sprinkle powder on the etched area
2. Sprinkle or spray the powder with water to moisten
3. Also, spray water on a clean soft cloth and rub the powder in a circular fashion for about 20 seconds
4. After rubbing for 20-30 seconds, completely wipe off all the product
5. Immediately clean the area preferably with a neutral stone cleaner like these recommended Stone Care Cleaners
6. Inspect the spot, noting changes. Repair may be complete but sometimes 2 or 3 applications are necessary
7. If needed, apply fresh powder and repeat steps 1-6.
8. Repeat until you restore the shine and blend with the rest of the surface.
For a honed finish, a different method is needed to restore the surface. To restore etch marks on a honed surface you have three options:
1. Use the DIY Marble Polishing Pads (which will also work to restore a polished finish)
2. Use the DIY method outlined in our ebook How to Remove Etch Marks (click here)
3. Hire a stone restoration professional
Option #3 is expensive. Option #2 may not yield absolutely perfect results but generally is close enough and worth the savings for a small spot. Using the polishing pads in option #1 will provide excellent results removing the etch mark and restoring a nice even finish.
Note: to restore large etch marks, a surface with multiple scattered etch marks, or a complete countertop a professional will provide the best results.
Important: Most household cleaners are too harsh for cleaning stone. You should only use products made specifically for cleaning marble or the stone will continue to be damaged.
Sometimes people confuse etch marks with "stains" or think they are all the same. Not true. Etch marks are always lighter in color while a stain (a spot where a substance has absorbed into the stone) is always darker. If you think you have a stain rather than an etch mark, then you'll need to use the Marble & Granite Stain Removal Poultice Powder.