How to Clean Slate Floors (Best Way to Clean and Maintain)

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how to clean slate floors

Slate is the most popular stone flooring option. It is naturally beautiful, durable, fire-resistant, and less expensive than comparable options. Whether used on a fireplace or the floors, slate can bring earthiness and texture to any room.

However, since slate is a natural stone, it takes more upkeep and cautious cleaning methods to keep it looking its best. 

Luckily, keeping your slate in good condition isn’t hard – you just need to know the correct steps to take and which cleaners you should avoid. Here’s how to clean slate floors.

What’s the Best Way to Clean Slate Floors?

To keep slate floors clean and looking their best, sweep them daily. Dust and dirt particles can act like sandpaper on a slate floor, grinding away pieces of the stone. Mop your slate floors as needed or weekly with a damp mop and a gentle cleanser made specifically for natural stone.

Cleaning Slate Flooring: Everything You Need to Know

Daily: Sweep

The most important upkeep task for slate floors is sweeping. This should be done daily. All you need for this is a large dust broom. Run the broom across the slate floors, picking up the dust and debris. If you opt to use a vacuum instead of a broom, make sure your vacuum is on the hard floor setting to avoid scratching the tile.

Weekly: Mop

Mop your slate floors every week or as needed. It’s essential to use a very gentle cleanser on your slate tiles. Two good options are Stone Care Stone Floor Cleaner or Weiman Stone Floor Cleaner.

Stay away from vinegar and citrus-based cleaners – they are too acidic and can cause damage. You’ll also want to avoid oil-based cleansers since they can make your floor extra slippery.

If there is any standing water on the floor after mopping, wipe it up with a towel or dry microfiber mop.

As needed: Spot Treat Stains

If you find a stain on your slate floors, you can treat it using isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Here’s what to do:

  • Mix 1 part rubbing alcohol to 8 parts water
  • Soak a rag in the solution and wipe on your stain
  • Let sit for a couple of minutes and then wipe off

If the stain is still showing, lightly scrub it with this solution. Repeat if necessary.

Every 3-5 Years: Seal Your Slate

Even though slate is highly durable, it’s still porous. Porous materials soak up liquid, which is why you need to seal your floors regularly.

Most manufacturers recommend that slate be sealed every 3-5 years but could be needed more often depending on the level of traffic your flooring receives, the type of tile you have, and the sealant you last used.

To determine if your slate needs to be sealed, here’s what to do:

  • Pour several drops of water on your slate floor
  • Allow the water to sit for 10-30 minutes and then wipe away
  • If your floor is darkened, it needs to be sealed

If you fail to seal your slate flooring properly, water and other liquids will be able to penetrate it, causing damage and making your floors look lifeless.

Frequently Asked Questions

faq how to clean slate floors

What’s the best way to make my slate floors shiny?

The best way to make your slate floors look shiny is to use an enhancing sealer. If your slate is brand new, you can do this after installation. If your slate tiles are older, you’ll first need to clean them thoroughly.

Enhancing sealers can bring out the natural colors of your tiles and give your floor a wet, shiny look.

Can I use vinegar on slate floors?

You should never use vinegar on slate floors. Vinegar is highly acidic and can react with chemicals naturally found in slate, dulling the stone’s color and making it look brittle.

You should only ever use gentle cleaners on your slate floor.

Can I use a steam cleaner on my slate floors?

Maybe. You’ll need to refer to the manufacturer of your sealant to see if a steam cleaner mop will be an appropriate way to clean your floors. Some sealant manufacturers claim that a steam mop can break down the sealer, leaving your floors exposed.

If you do use a steam mop, be sure to keep it on the lowest heat setting.

Final Thoughts on Cleaning Slate

Slate is a beautiful flooring option. And although it requires careful cleaning, it’s not hard to care for. The most important things you can do to keep your slate looking fantastic for years to come are keeping your floor sealed and sweeping and mopping regularly.

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Katie Barton lives with her husband and three daughters in an 1800’s style log cabin in southern Ohio. She thinks cleaning is relaxing and is considered the organizing go-to person by her family and friends. She runs the blog Cabin Lane where she shares about cleaning, decluttering, and minimalism. See full biography here.

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