How to Clean Travertine Backsplash

Travertine backsplashes can add natural beauty and texture to any kitchen, but keeping them looking their best requires regular cleaning and maintenance. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to properly clean travertine backsplash tiles.

What is Travertine?

Travertine is a form of limestone that is formed by minerals depositing from natural hot spring water. It has a distinctive porous surface texture and comes in shades of tan, rust, grey and cream. Travertine is a popular choice for backsplashes, countertops and floors because it is durable, attractive and earthy. However, the porous nature of the stone does require more frequent cleaning.

Routine Cleaning

  • Use a soft sponge or microfiber cloth to wipe down the backsplash daily. This will remove light dirt, dust and fingerprints. Avoid abrasive scrubbing pads.
  • For routine cleaning, use a mild pH-neutral stone cleaner. Stone soap or a mix of mild dish soap and warm water works well.
  • Rinse the backsplash thoroughly after cleaning and dry with a soft cloth. Make sure no suds or cleaning product is left behind.
  • Every few weeks, give the backsplash a deeper cleaning using the stone cleaner and a soft bristle brush to remove grime buildup from the grout and pits of the travertine.
  • Travertine is prone to hard water marks, so be sure to wipe up spills quickly and use a cleaner formulated for stone to periodically remove any mineral deposits.

What Not to Do

  • Avoid cleaners that contain acid, bleach, ammonia or vinegar as these can etch and damage the travertine surface.
  • Do not use abrasive scrubs or scouring powders which can scratch the stone.
  • Prevent staining by immediately wiping up spills, especially from coffee, tea, wine or fruit juice which can permanently stain the porous stone.
  • Do not let soap, oils or residue dry on the surface which can lead to buildup in the pores.

Removing Stubborn Stains and Grime

For tougher stains or grime that routine cleaning won’t remove:

  • Make a paste with baking soda and water and apply to the stain. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing. Baking soda is a gentle abrasive that works well for cleaning travertine.
  • For oil-based stains, use a small amount of ammonia mixed with water. Apply with a soft cloth allowing time to penetrate the stain. Rinse thoroughly.
  • For hard water deposits, use a cleaner made for removing mineral deposits and calcium from stone. Let it soak in before gently scrubbing.
  • For travertine floors, a steam mop is safe and effective at penetrating and loosening dirt from the pits.


Travertine is porous and sealing it regularly helps prevent stains and damage.

  • Reseal every 6 months to 1 year depending on usage and wear.
  • Use a stone-safe silicone or acrylic sealer made for travertine.
  • Before sealing, deep clean the tiles to remove any coatings or residue.
  • Apply the sealer evenly using a paintbrush or sponge following the product instructions.
  • Buff off any excess sealer and avoid heavy use of the backsplash for 24 hours to allow it to fully cure.

Preventing Damage

  • Always use coasters under glasses and placemats under dishes to prevent etching and scratching.
  • Wipe up spills immediately to prevent stains.
  • Use cutting boards and trivets to protect from knives and hot pans which can damage the surface.
  • For travertine near a cooktop or range, apply a protective stone polish to help resist grease and food splatters.
  • Clean with care using soft materials. Never use abrasive scrubbers or harsh chemicals.

Know When to Call a Professional

While routine cleaning can be done at home, there are some situations where a professional will be needed:

  • Deep stains that do not respond to home cleaning methods.
  • Thorough steam cleaning for travertine floors.
  • Repairing chips, scratches or cracks in the tiles.
  • Re-honing and polishing worn or etched travertine to restore the surface.


With the proper gentle cleaning and regular sealing, travertine backsplashes can stay looking beautiful and avoid stains and damage. Always use specialty stone cleaners and mild scrubbing pads. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasives. Bring in a professional stone cleaner for occasional deep cleaning and sealing maintenance. Pay attention to preventative care and prompt spills removal. With the right care, a travertine backsplash will add natural elegance to the kitchen for many years.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cleaning Travertine Backsplash

Is it okay to use vinegar to clean travertine?

No, vinegar is too acidic for travertine and can damage the stone. Always use a mild pH-neutral stone cleaner instead.

How can I get grease splatters off my travertine backsplash?

For greasy splatters, spray a stone-safe degreaser on the area and let it soak for 5-10 minutes before gently scrubbing with a soft brush. Rinse thoroughly. Avoid harsh scrubbing.

What’s the best way to clean travertine grout?

Use a soft bristle brush and stone-safe grout cleaner. Scrub gently to remove built-up dirt and grime. Avoid using too much pressure or abrasive scrubbers.

How do I get hard water stain deposits off travertine?

Hard water deposits need a cleaning product specifically formulated to remove minerals and limescale from stone. Apply the limescale remover, allow time to penetrate and then scrub gently.

Can I use bleach or other harsh chemicals on travertine?

No. Bleach, ammonia, vinegar, and other harsh chemicals can discolor, pit, and damage the travertine surface. Always use specialty stone cleaners.

How often should travertine backsplash be sealed?

Sealing should be done every 6 months to 1 year depending on usage. Commercial kitchens may need more frequent sealing. Inspect regularly and reseal whenever the stone appears porous or is staining more easily.

What household items can I use to clean travertine?

For routine cleaning, a mild mix of dish soap and warm water works well. For stubborn stains, make a paste with baking soda and water to gently scrub. Avoid any acidic or abrasive cleaners.

My travertine backsplash has some cracked tiles. Should I repair them?

Yes, cracked travertine tiles need to be repaired to prevent moisture getting in and further damage occurring. Use a specialty tile repair epoxy to fill in any cracked areas or missing grout.

How do I deep clean travertine to prepare it for sealing?

Before sealing, wash with a pH-neutral stone cleaner, use a steam cleaner for floor applications and scrub with a soft brush. This removes any residue so the sealant adheres properly.