How to Clean Alabaster

Alabaster Vase Alabaster is a beautiful soft stone that is often used to make decorative ornaments and light fixtures due to its light diffusing qualities. When I went to Italy I brought several pieces back with me, but because alabaster is such a delicate porous stone special care needs to be taken when cleaning it.

Depending on the degree of cleaning you want to do here is what you'll need:

Light cleaning: A soft dry pure cotton cloth
  • Moderate cleaning: dish washing liquid, water and a sponge
  • Heavy cleaning: acetone and cotton wool balls
  • Remove smoke build-up: borax and a soft cloth.
Light Cleaning

1. Wipe the alabaster clean with the dry, pure cotton cloth.  Regular dusting will help you maintain the alabasters attractive form.

Moderate Cleaning

1. Mix a mild dish washing liquid into a bowl of water. Dip your sponge into the water and wring dry. The sponge must merely be damp not dripping water.
2. Rub the sponge gently onto the alabaster.
3. Using fresh water rinse the sponge and gently re-wipe the alabaster.
4. Drying the alabaster:
  • Decorative object -Wipe away dampness with a dry cotton cloth.
  • Light fixture – leave to dry at room temperature for a period of 2 – 3 hours before returning it to normal usage. Returning it to immediate use after use could be disastrous as heat can cause the alabaster to expand and crack.
Heavy Cleaning:
1. Lightly dampen a ball of cotton wool with acetone (nail polish remover) and apply to stain.

Removing smoke build-up

1. Using a damp cloth dipped into the dry borax, gently rub it  onto the alabaster. When you are done, wipe borax away with a clean soft cloth.

Always test cleaner on an inconspicuous area first.
Never immerse alabaster into water as it can ruin its appearance.
Avoid using abrasive compounds and scouring pads.
Do not use a hairdryer to dry damp alabaster. The excessive heat could cause it to expand and crack.
Borax can be toxic – please store out of the reach of children.
Written by Leanne Naidoo

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