What Cuts Soap Scum on Travertine Tiles?

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Travertine is an attractive stone that requires special care.
Travertine is an attractive stone that requires special care. (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Stone surfaces offer many options for home decoration, including flooring, vanity tops, tabletops and bathroom tile. Travertine is a particular type of stone that is generally whitish or beige in color. It offers a luxurious stone look without the hard character of granite or marble. Because it is a softer stone than marble or granite, it needs a bit of special care. Use cleaners that cut through soap scum but do not scratch the porous surface.

About Travertine

Travertine is part of the group of stone called limestone, also known as calcium carbonate. It is formed by minerals deposited underwater in rivers, steams and geysers, according to BuildDirect. Travertine is processed with a variety of surface treatments, including a shiny polished surface, a tumbled, textured surface or a honed, matte surface. These finishes do not seal the surface, which must be applied in a separate step with a high-quality sealer. Even with the sealing compound, travertine tile can experience clouding and dulling by soap products.

Travertine Tile Care

Travertine is a porous material that requires careful cleaning with mild ingredients and the avoidance of certain compounds that can react with the alkaline, limestone material that makes up the stone. In most cases, simply washing the tile with plain water will remove dirt and minor stains. For tougher dirt, use a mild dishwashing liquid or soap to clean the surface, such as soap specially formulated for stone surfaces and specifically recommended for cleaning travertine. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth to remove all soap film. Do not use cleaners that contain lemon or vinegar, which are acidic and can react with the alkaline chemicals within the travertine stone. A thorough annual cleaning of the tile will help to keep the travertine looking its best.

Removing Soap Scum on Travertine Tile

Soap scum is a common problem in travertine showers, according to the National Tile Cleaning Association site. This scum must be removed from the tile surface to prevent the film from eating away at the travertine material. Removing the soap scum may require the use of a special travertine soap scum remover. This type of product is only available at stone supply stores and other stone specialty outlets. The manufacturer of your travertine can recommend a suitable product to remove soap scum.

Preventing Soap Scum

Using too much soap can leave a film on travertine tile and will make the tile look dull and clouded. Use only the smallest amount of soap necessary to clean the surface and rinse thoroughly, changing the water frequently between rinses, according to the FBR Marble site. The use of cleaners that contain abrasives can leave scratches or pitting on the travertine surface.

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