Cleaning with Pumice

There are many people cleaning with pumice stones.  Even in professional circles, I see people recommending them often.  Advocates prefer them because they’re a green product which doesn’t require chemicals to remove hard water stains and claim they even clean toilets and stoves.

You’re no doubt interested in products and procedures that will clean without damaging the environment, but does pumice live up to the hype?

This article analyzes if using pumice for cleaning is a good idea or not.

What is pumice?

Pumice is a light, porous rock that forms from volcanic explosions.  Gasses trapped in lava form a froth and if it freezes, will form pumice.  It’s mostly made of silica.

Mohs Hardness:

  • Pumice – 6
  • Porcelain – 6-7
  • Quartz – 7
  • Diamond – 10

Is Pumice a Cleanser

Pumice is not a cleanser.  At least, it’s not a cleanser anymore than a rag, towel or toilet bowl brush are cleansers.  It’s a scraping tool.  Claims that it doesn’t require chemicals to clean are inaccurate.

Pumice will not remove or stop harmful bacterial growth in a toilet bowl without the use of a disinfectant.  It will serve as a living space for harmful bacteria unless disinfected.

 

Is Pumice Safe For Your Health?

Pumice is safe to handle when new, less so after it’s used.  Since it’s porous, the stone picks up little bits of soiling and harmful bacteria can grow on that.  The pours are so small, it’s impossible to clean every nook and cranny.

Some manufacturers recommend drying the stones between uses, but this is not an effective way of removing harmful bacteria.

Scientists recommend soaking the stones in a bath of bleach to control harmful bacterial growth.  This, however, is another reason it isn’t accurate to call it “chemical free”.

Will Pumice Cause Damage?

The short answer is; its very possible to cause damage with a pumice.  Does everyone experience this?  No.

The toughest item in your house (as far as scratch resistance) is likely your toilet.  It is likely made of porcelain and glazed. Pumice has a similar hardness to porcelain.

Pumice is mostly silica, a major component in sandpaper.  Even though it’s not as hard as the glaze, I don’t think you’d want to clean your sink or toilet with sandpaper.  Once the enamel on a toilet is rubbed off, stains will develop and it can never be cleaned to look new again.  That doesn’t mean every time it’s used, it will cause damage, but it only takes one time to cause permanent damage.  Frequent uses can erode the surface away.

Manufacturers often recommend making sure the stone is wet and using “light pressure” to avoid damage, but to use an analogy of Angela Brown, it’s possible to run with scissors, but it’s not the best idea.

Conclusion

We clean for a living.  We need products which are guaranteed to work and guaranteed not to cause damage.  For this reason, Focus Window Cleaning does not use pumice stones and we don’t recommend them.

If you’d like to know more, check out the sources below.

Leave a Reply