How to Clean Slate Floors

Slate floors, while beautiful, require diligent maintenance to avoid unsightly dirt build-up and potential scratches.

Regular Cleaning

What you will need:

  • Soft-bristle broom
  • Good quality dust mop (non-oil-based)
  • Bucket
  • Warm water
  • Mild Detergent (such as you use on delicate clothing)
  • Wet mop

Instructions:

  1. Sweep floor thoroughly to remove loose debris.
  2. Go over floor with a dust mop to pick up fine debris and particles, moving mop in the same direction—avoid back-and-forth sweeping motion.
  3. Fill bucket with 1 gallon of warm water and add about 1/4 capful of detergent
  4. Dip mop in cleaning solution and wring thoroughly.
  5. Mop all areas of the floor, with slow, smooth strokes, rinsing and wringing mop often.
  6. 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.
  7. Floor should be allowed to air-dry. Keep traffic off of the floor area while it is drying.

Slate 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 slate 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.
  • Strategically place doormats outside the area where your slate floor is located so that people will at least wipe their shoes thoroughly before stepping on the slate. If at all possible, avoid wearing shoes on the slate altogether.
  • 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 floor as it may cause chipping, scratches, or other damages.

An Ounce Of Prevention…

  • One of the best ways to keep you slate floors looking their best is to apply sealant.
  • 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-Safe Cleaners

  • 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 floors, many of which are “rinse free” and therefore will not leave a dull residue
  • Mild detergent (such as the type you use to wash your delicate clothes) works fine, and is not as costly as some of the specialized cleaners.
  • Going Green: Many companies now make environmentally friendly laundry detergents that will work quite well on slate floors. Also, when it comes to regular cleaning of slate floors, plain warm water works fine, and few things are more environmentally friendly.

Removing Stains and Spills

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

  • 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 to scrub the area, then rinse.
  • If the stained area is on 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 whipe with a soft cloth or paper towel. Again, ONLY use this method if you DO NOT HAVE COLORED GROUT.
  • If you do have colored grout, another alternative for stain removal may be shaving cream. Still, it is important to test the shaving cream on an inconspicuous spot to make sure it will not discolor the grout. Once you’ve determined it’s safe, apply shaving cream to the grout stain, let sit for about 15 minutes and rinse with warm water.
  • Many stone and tile manufacturers and retailers do sell products designed to remove grout stains (online stores would include those listed in the links above). Again, you should make sure that any such commercial cleaner is NON-ACIDIC and designed for use on slate floors.

Once you have removed a stain from the grout area, you will need to reseal it to prevent permanent stains in the future.

Comments

  1. Betsy says:

    I am looking at steam cleaners and wondering if I can use those on my slate floors. I have several rooms and long hallways of stone and slate. Some of it was installed in the 1960′s and never sealed. It has held up very well, but is dark and in need of a thorough cleaning that I can’t begin to do on my knees. I would like to prepare it for some kind of sealant. Will the steam be able to do the job without harming the slate?

  2. Arlene says:

    Can I use a steam cleaner on a slate floor? My steam cleaner does not use any chemicals. Cold water is filled into the container, which is then heated in the unit to produce the steam. A soft cloth is pulled over the head to mop the floors.

    Will the steam remove the sealant?

    Appreciate any advice!

    Thanks,
    Arlene

  3. Annette says:

    I just cleaned the slate entryway of my mother-in-law’s home. I used a floor scrubber, with the rotating brushes, with some mild cleaning solution. Afterward, I used a wet vac floor cleaner to wash or remove the soap. I used a steam cleaner after that to make sure all dirt was gone. Now we will apply the sealant. It was so dirty and now it looks great!

  4. Roseanne says:

    I have the Shark vac steam mop and am having a hard time using it on the slate. The pads seem to get stuck on the rough edges of the slate and so, the back and forth motion of mopping is cumbersome. Not to mentioned, I just don’t think it’s doing very much since there’s a lot of grooves and it’s not a deep enough clean. I think I need to just break out the regular mop and bucket to give it a good cleaning. I surely don’t want to have to get down on my knees and scrub this tile old school-style if at all possible.

    Any other suggestions are very welcomed! Thanks.

  5. Anne says:

    I use a Vax steam cleaner on my sealed slate floor. It comes up wonderfully. I go over it first with a normal microfiber cloth, and then with the one that has lots of microfiber “worms!” At first, the mop heads kept coming off, but it was just matter of perfecting my technique. As for the grout, sorry, but I have to scrub this now and again with a grout brush and sodium bicarbonate. I love my slate floor and would never have an imitation one. I have a ceramic floor in the hallway, which is so cold in comparison.

  6. Jan says:

    I am selling my home and have a lot of slate. It has a build-up of old polish and needs a good clean. It is very dark compared to when it was laid. Can anyone help me? The build-up is lifting the grout in some places.
    Thank you,
    Jan

  7. Seamus says:

    It must be work tops that you’re cleaning, not slate.

  8. Sally says:

    I just bought a new house that has slate floors. The grout between the slate tiles within the kitchen area appeared to be moldy, so I tried different mild methods to clean it – nothing made any difference. BUT, now I think I have made a mistake and am needing some advice, please. So…I did get down and scrub my tiles “old school style” with Demestos (bleach) cleaning liquid. I thought it was working great, until I realized that it removed the lacquer off the tiles that kept it looking oiled.

    What do I do to fix my clean but “un-lacquered” tiles?

    Thank you for any suggestions.

  9. Shirley says:

    Help! I just bought a house with slate floors. They look dirty and I don’t know how to clean them. At this moment, I am thinking of having all the slate removed and tile put down. I can’t stand the darkness of the slate. Please respond with best ideas.
    Thanks.

  10. Pamela says:

    I splashed Easy Off Bam on the outside of a slate area and it almost immediately bleached big patches of color out of the slate. I then tried to clean with a scrubbing blush and hot water to no avail. Help; can the catastrophe be fixed without an expensive job of re-tiling the whole area?

  11. Maeve says:

    Is it safe to use a steam mop on my slate tile floor?

  12. Glenda says:

    Can scratched slate be repaired?

  13. Vania says:

    Is it safe to use a steam mop on my slate floors?

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