Q: Do you have a remedy for cleaning rust stains around the drains in our marble bathroom sinks?
— Ruthann Coleman
A: The Marble Institute of America says rust stains are difficult to remove from marble, but you can try using a poultice of diatomaceous earth and a commercially available rust remover. A poultice is a pastelike mixture that’s spread on the stained area and left there for a day or two to draw out the stain as it dries.
You can buy diatomaceous earth from some pool suppliers and garden centers. A number of rust removers are available, but one common brand is Whink.
Here are the Marble Institute’s instructions:
Mix enough rust remover and diatomaceous earth to make a paste about the consistency of peanut butter. Wet the stained area with distilled water, and then use a wood or plastic spatula to spread a layer one-quarter to one-half inch thick on the stain. (Be careful, because rust remover is very caustic.)
Cover the paste with plastic and tape the edges to seal it, and then leave it in place. After 24 hours, remove the plastic and let the poultice continue to dry.
Once the poultice has dried thoroughly, remove it using the spatula. Rinse the stain with distilled water and buff dry with a soft cloth.
You can repeat the process up to four times for difficult stains. If it doesn’t work, you’ll need to call a professional.
The chemical might etch the surface of the marble. If that happens, apply polishing powder and buff with burlap or a felt buffing pad.
Have a question about home maintenance, decorating or gardening? Akron Beacon Journal home writer Mary Beth Breckenridge will find answers for the queries that are chosen to appear in the paper. To submit a question, call her at 330-996-3756, or send email to email@example.com. Be sure to include your full name, your town and your phone number or email address.