Cleaning Slate Floors
Cleaning slate floors should be a relatively easy process as long as yours have been treated well over the years. Stain removal may require special attention, but regular day to day cleaning can be done with just soapy water and a microfiber mop.
Is Slate Pourous?
Yes, slate is porous. That means it is going to absorb some of anything that gets spilled on it. All slate is not equal. Some slate floors are more absorbent then others - it depends on where and how the slate was cut.
Slate Floors Should be Sealed
If you have slate floors, they should already be finished with a sealant. If your slate floor isn't sealed and has not been kept clean, it is probably a mess and it is advisable to consult a professional to get it cleaned and then sealed. Once it is properly sealed, a slate floor is fairly easy to maintain. You will also need to occasionally reseal.
Cleaning Slate Floors
1. Grit. Keep your floor grit free by frequently vacuuming (use an attachment with a soft brush) or dry mopping. I highly recommend dry mopping with a microfiber dust mop for almost all floor types. These mops really pick up everything and it is so much easier to do a quick dry mop then hauling out the noisy vacuum cleaner and dragging it around everywhere. By keeping grit off the floor, you will keep it from getting ground in and also possibly damaging the slate.
2. Spills. Wipe up spills as soon as they happen. Even if you can't do a thorough cleaning right then and there at least absorb every bit of the spill you can with paper towel or talcum powder. Clean stains as soon as you can. Removing stains as soon as they happen in all house cleaning situations is good common sense.
3. Cleaning Tools. You can use a floor scrub brush to clean your slate floor if it has not been waxed. The brush could be particularly useful if your slate is slightly uneven (cleft slate). Otherwise, as always I recommend microfiber, be it a cloth or a mop.
4. Slate Cleaners. A mild solution of dishwashing soap and warm water is all you need for cleaning slate floors on a regular basis. If you want to avoid having to rinse the floor, be sure to use just a teaspoon of soap to several gallons of warm water. Otherwise you can clean with a stronger solution, but you will need to clean with plain water after.
Slate Floor Stains
- Hard Water Marks - If you have white stains on your dark slate, it may be mineral deposits from hard water. Use a vinegar and water solution to dissolve these stains, then carefully wash with clear water to remove all the vinegar.
- Oil Stains - Hopefully your floor is sealed, and these stains are just on the surface. Use a strong tile and grout cleaner according to the package directions. No need to treat the whole floor, just the stain.
- Rust Stains - Some slate naturally contains pyrite which could appear rust like. There is nothing you can really do about these "stains" - they are part of the stone. If you have rust stains from metal furniture or the like, one product recommended by experts for use on slate is Iron Out.
Learn how to make stain removing poultices for just about any type of stain on your slate floor: Find Stone - Stain Removal.
Waxing Slate Floors
You can wax your slate floor if you wish with acrylic wax. Waxing can give a slightly shiny finish to slate and can make cleaning easier (the wax provides a smooth surface which is easier to clean). Keep in mind though that slate probably looks at its best when it is natural and it isn't naturally a shiny material. If you wax your floors, you will have to occasionally strip the wax and start over.