How to Clean Bathroom Slate

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Slate makes a striking addition to any room, including the bathroom. Slate floors, walls and counters are a unique and durable alternative to tile, but do require diligent maintenance to avoid unsightly build-up of dirt and soap scum. When cleaning, you must also make an extra effort to avoid potential scratches.

Regular (Weekly) Maintenance

What You Will Need:

  • Soft-bristle broom
  • Soft dusting rag (no rags pretreated with oils)
  • Good quality dust mop (non-oil-based)
  • Bucket
  • Warm water
  • Mild Detergent (such as you use on clothes)
  • Wet mop
  • Soft cleaning rag

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Sweep your slate floor thoroughly with the soft-bristle broom to remove loose debris.
  2. Wipe down slate counters and walls with a soft dusting rag to remove excess dirt and dust.
  3. Go over your floor with a dust mop to pick up fine debris and particles, moving mop in the same direction—avoid a back-and-forth sweeping motion.
  4. Fill bucket with 1 gallon of warm water and add about ¼ capful of detergent
  5. Wet the soft cleaning rag with the detergent solution and wipe down slate walls and counters thoroughly, wiping in the same direction so as to avoid streaks.
  6. Empty the bucket and refill with 1 gallon of warm water and ¼ capful of detergent.
  7. Dip wet mop in the detergent solution and wring thoroughly.
  8. Mop all areas of the floor, with slow, smooth strokes, rinsing and wringing mop often.
  9. Rinsing is generally not necessary, but if there appears to be an accumulation of suds or other soapy residue on the floor, fill bucket with clean warm water and mop again.
  10. Floor, walls and counters should be allowed to air-dry. Keep traffic off of the floor area while it is drying.

Additional Cleaning Tips

  • Make sure you buy a good quality dust mop, and make sure it is not oil-based. You can find a variety of such mops at most home improvement stores or janitorial supply stores.
  • Depending upon the location of your floor and the amount of traffic, it may be necessary to dry-mop the floor every day, making sure to take the mop outside after every use and give it a good shaking.
  • Slate placed in a bathroom should be sealed so as to not absorb the excess moisture normally present in the bathroom. If your slate was not pre-sealed prior to installation, you should consider having that done. Stone and Tile Sealant can be found at most stone/tile retailers. You should apply two or three coats of the sealant, following the directions on the label, but waiting at least 30 minutes between coats. Generally, the sealant should be applied using a cotton string mop. Once the sealant dries thoroughly, be sure to maintain your floor on a regular basis as noted above.
  • Slate floors tend to be slippery when wet or damp, so always use bath mats and/or area rugs on a slate floor by your tub and sink in your bathroom to avoid accidents.
  • Avoid rubber-backed mats on slate floors as the rubber may stick to or damage the slate.
  • It’s okay to vacuum a slate floor, but you must use ONLY a soft brush attachment and you must be very careful not to bang or jerk the vacuum cleaner on the slate floor as it may cause chipping, scratches, or damage the floor in other ways.

Choosing a Cleaner

  • DO NOT use any type of cleaner that has an acid base (even natural types, such as vinegar). This will damage your floor and may result in costly repair or replacement.
  • There are many cleaners to choose from, some of which are specifically designed for slate such as Marblelife, Ezkleen and Stonetech, many of which are “rinse free” (designed not to leave a dull residue).
  • Mild detergent works fine and is not as costly as some of the specialized cleaners.
  • Going Green: Many companies now make environmentally friendly clothes detergents that will work quite well on slate.

Stains and Spills

Even with regular maintenance, stains will still occur, especially in the grouted area of the slate floors and walls. Grout by nature is very porous and can easily absorb spills.

  • All spills should be wiped up immediately with a paper towel or soft cloth.
  • For stains that the mop misses, try using a hand-held scrub brush with nylon or other non-metal bristles. Use a small amount of water and detergent and scrub the area, then rinse.
  • If the stained area is on an area of grout that is NOT colored, spray the stain with a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. Let stand for about 15 minutes and repeat. Again, ONLY use this method if you DO NOT HAVE COLORED GROUT. Peroxide is a form of bleach and will discolor colored grout.
  • If the stain persists, make a paste of peroxide and baking soda (allowing the bubbles to settle before applying). Apply the paste to the stain and let it set. After it is dry, re-spray with the 50/50 solution and wipe with a soft cloth or paper towel.
  • Once you have removed a stain from the grout area, you will need to reseal it to prevent permanent stains in the future.

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