Travertine tiles are renowned for both their rustic charm and their durability in home design; after all, you need look no further than the Colosseum in Rome to understand travertine's enduring appeal. This natural limestone is formed when warm mineral springs deposit calcium carbonate and other materials in layers, which eventually solidify into a marble-like stone. The result can be a beautiful and luxurious addition to your home, but its unique chemical structure means that special care must be taken to keep it clean and undamaged. These three common cleaning methods should be avoided at all costs if you value the longevity of your travertine. 

Standard Surface Cleaners

Travertine is less dense than granite and other types of stones used in the home, and its porous nature makes it vulnerable to acidic liquids and staining. Limestone is an alkaline stone, meaning it reacts strongly with acids and will eventually develop a scuffed, etched appearance if exposed to them. Sealing the stone can mitigate this risk, but your tiles will still be vulnerable to acid damage over time. Never use store-bought, generic cleaning products on travertine, because they tend to be acidic. Instead, purchase specialty stone-cleaning products for day-to-day maintenance, and hire experienced travertine tile cleaning experts for a professional cleaning once or twice per year. 

Acidic Traditional Cleaning Remedies

Similarly, traditional home cleaning remedies should be avoided when it comes to travertine. Vinegar, citrus juices, and any other acidic product will harm the tiles and leave them looking worse than when you started. Even storing acidic products directly on travertine can lead to unsightly rings where the bottles rest. If you are in desperate need of a spot cleaning after spilling something on the tile, use isopropyl alcohol instead. Pure alcohols are less acidic than water and are nearly pH-neutral, making them safe to use on travertine in small doses. Baking soda dissolved in water is alkaline and can also be used to scrub out a stain, but be careful not to scratch the floor as you clean.  

Abrasive Sponges and Vacuums

Travertine is not especially delicate, but it is not as hard as granite, and its surface can be marred with too much elbow grease. For this reason, you should avoid cleaning implements like sponges and vacuum cleaners, which can cause scratches or even chip your tiles. Most tiles will not need such thorough cleaning anyways, and many homeowners find that a simple dust mop is more than sufficient for daily care. When your tiles are ready for a more thorough cleaning, it may be wise to rely on the expertise of travertine tile cleaning specialists, who will have specialized cleaning products and equipment on hand to ensure that your travertine remains attractive and unblemished for decades to come.