Slate floors have a natural and luxurious look that makes them a popular choice. However, like other types of natural stone, slate floors must be cleaned with care to avoid damage or discoloration.
If you’re wondering how to clean slate floors, the steps are pretty simple. We’ll cover everything you need to know in this article, including what to avoid.
The Challenges of Slate Floors
While slate floors certainly are beautiful, they do present a few specific challenges when it comes to maintenance and care.
- Susceptible to scratches. Slate is a fairly soft stone, which means it can be easily scratched or chipped if not treated with care.
- Must use care when choosing cleaning products. The wrong types of cleaning products may cause damage to the stone.
- Requires sealing. Slate is porous. This means that it can absorb liquids and stains if not sealed properly.
- Requires frequent cleaning. You’ll need to clean the slate more frequently than many other types of flooring if you want to keep it looking its best.
But don’t worry. Caring for your slate floors isn’t that difficult, and we’ll show you exactly what you need to do.
How to Clean Slate Floors
Before we get into the specific steps for cleaning your slate floors, it’s critical to understand the types of cleaning products to avoid. Acidic cleaners and harsh chemical-based cleaners may damage the stone and should never be used. This includes natural cleaning products like vinegar and lemon. Even though they are excellent options for most DIY cleaning recipes, they’re not ideal for slate due to acidity.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s how to clean your slate floors:
What You’ll Need to Clean Slate Floors
The good news is that you won’t need any special equipment or cleaning products to clean your slate floors. In fact, all you’ll need is:
- Microfiber mop
- Mop for wet cleaning
- Mild dish soap
- Slate cleaner (optional)
Step 1: Dust Mop the Floor
Before you start mopping the floor, it’s important to remove any dust or dirt that may have accumulated on the surface. The best way to do this is with a microfiber mop or duster. We recommend the Deep Clean Mop from E-Cloth. This mop has a detachable dusting pad that can be removed and washed.
If you don’t have a microfiber mop, you can simply sweep with a broom or use a vacuum to clean the floor. We recommend a microfiber mop because it’s more effective at getting up all of the dust, but a broom or vacuum will do. If your vacuum has a hard floor setting, be sure to use it. Don’t use a vacuum or setting that has a beater bar that can damage the slate.
Step 2: Choose a Gentle Cleanser
The next step is to choose a gentle cleanser. As mentioned earlier, it’s critical that you avoid harsh cleaners that could damage the natural stone. Here are some of your options for cleaners that you can use.
- Natural dish detergent. Natural products are more gentle and therefore safer for the stone. We recommend Better Life Dish Soap.
- Cleaning Products for Natural Stone. There are some products you can buy that are made specifically for cleaning natural stone safely. We recommend Better Life Granite and Stone Cleaner.
- Baking Soda. Baking soda is most effective for spot treatment and removing stains. The grit and texture make it useful for scrubbing.
- Hydrogen Peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide has a bleach-like effect, but without damaging the slate. Again, this can be useful for spot treatment of stains, and it can also be mixed with baking soda to make a more potent cleaner for scrubbing.
For general purposes, we recommend using natural dish soap and water to clean the entire floor, and then use your choice of products for spot treatment, if needed.
Mix 1/4 cup of dish soap with two gallons of warm water to create your cleaning solution.
Step 3: Mop the Floor
Once you’ve chosen your cleaning solution, it’s time to mop the floor. We recommend using the O-Cedar EasyWring Spin Mop because it has a built-in wringer that makes it easy to wring out the mop without getting your hands wet. It also has a microfiber head that’s great for picking up dirt and debris.
If you don’t have the O-Cedar EasyWring Spin Mop, any other type of mop will do. Just be sure to wring out the mop thoroughly before mopping so that the floor isn’t too wet.
Dip the mop in the bucket of cleaning solution and wring it out thoroughly.
- Mop the floor, working in small sections.
- Rinse the mop in the bucket of clean water and wring it out thoroughly.
- Repeat until the entire floor has been mopped.
As you’re mopping, it’s important that you don’t allow water to puddle, and don’t leave water on the surface of the stone.
Related: The Best Spin Mops
Step 4: Spot Treat as Needed
If you have any stains or spots that need extra attention, you can use a cleaner and sponge or soft-bristled scrub brush to spot treat them. Just be sure to use a soft-bristled brush so you don’t damage the slate.
You can treat the spots with the same water and dish soap solution (scrubbing or rubbing instead of mopping), or try Better Life Granite & Stone Cleaner or a paste made with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
Once you’ve spot treated the area, rinse it with clean water and dry it with a clean towel.
Step 5: Let It Dry
The last and important step in our How to Clean Slate Floors guide is to dry it completely after cleaning. The best way to do this is with a clean microfiber cloth or towel.
If you don’t have a microfiber cloth or towels, you can use old rags or even paper towels. Just be sure to change them often so that they’re not just moving around dirt and debris.
You can also let it air dry. If there’s good airflow like if the windows are open, the floor should dry relatively quickly on its own as long as there was no standing water.
Adding Teak Oil (Optional)
Once the floor is completely dry, you can add teak oil if you’d like. This step is optional, but it will help to protect the stone and make it shine. You may want to use teak oil every few months to keep your floors looking new.
- Apply a thin layer of teak oil with a clean cloth. You don’t need to saturate the cloth, just make sure it’s wet enough to spread the oil evenly.
- Rub the oil into the slate in small sections, using circular motions.
- Let the oil sit for 15-20 minutes and then buff it with a clean, dry cloth.
Steam Cleaning a Slate Floor
You can also steam clean your slate floor. This is a good option if you have a lot of dirt and debris that’s tough to remove with just mopping. You won’t need to steam clean on a weekly basis, but you may want to do it occasionally as needed.
Start by cleaning with a damp microfiber mop to remove any loose dirt and debris.
Fill your steam cleaner with distilled water. Distilled water is preferable to tap water because it won’t leave mineral deposits on the slate.
Follow the instructions on your steam cleaner to operate it correctly.
- Steam clean the entire floor, working in small sections.
- Allow the floor to air dry completely before walking on it or adding furniture back into the room.
How to Seal Slate Floors
If you have unsealed slate floors, it’s a good idea to seal them. Sealing will help protect the stone from stains and dirt, and it will make it easier to clean in the future.
Some sealers create a glossy look while others maintain a natural look. If your floor has been sealed in the past, you’ll probably want to continue using the same type of sealer.
Start by cleaning the floor with a damp microfiber mop.
Apply the sealer evenly across the floor with a paint roller or pad applicator.
Let the sealer dry for 24 hours before walking on the floor or adding furniture back into the room.
Be sure to follow the instructions from the sealer’s manufacturer as they may vary from our generalized instructions.
You’ll need to seal the floors periodically. As a general rule, it’s good to seal slate floors once per year. You can check to see if your floor needs to be sealed by dripping a small amount of water on the slate. If you see a dark spot for more than 10 minutes, you probably need to seal the floor.
Tips for Keeping Your Slate Floors Like New
- Protect heavy traffic areas with rugs or mats. This will help to prevent dirt, debris, and stains from building up on the slate.
- Do not slide furniture. Slate can scratch easily, so be sure to pick up furniture rather than sliding it.
- Clean spills immediately. Slate is porous, so it can absorb spills if they’re not cleaned up right away.
- Be careful with cleaners. Only use pH-neutral cleaners on slate floors and avoid any cleaners that contain acids or alkalis.
- Use a microfiber mop regularly. This will help to prevent dirt and debris from building up on the floor.
Now you know how to clean slate floors with all our additional tips to confidently clean all the slate floors in your home!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are slate floors hard to maintain?
Slate floors require a little extra work compared to some other types of floors. You should use a pH-neutral cleaner and a microfiber mop to keep the floor clean. You should also seal the floor periodically to help protect it from dirt, debris, and spills.
Do slate floors scratch easily?
Slate floors are fairly durable, but they can scratch if you’re not careful. Avoid sliding furniture across the floor and be sure to pick up furniture rather than dragging it.
What is the best thing to clean slate floors with?
The best thing to clean slate floors with is a pH-neutral cleaner and a microfiber mop. You can use natural dish soap and water, or a cleaner made specifically for natural stone.
Can you clean slate floors with baking soda?
You use baking soda for spot treatment and scrubbing stains. Create a paste with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for the best results.
Can you clean slate floors with vinegar?
No, you should not use vinegar on your slate floor. Vinegar is an acid and it can damage the stone. Instead, use a pH-neutral cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for natural stone.
How do you get stains out of slate?
You can use a pH-neutral cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for natural stone. You can also create a paste with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to scrub away stains.
How often should I steam clean my slate floor?
You don’t need to steam clean your floor on a weekly basis, but you may want to do it occasionally as needed. A good rule of thumb is to steam clean once every month or two.
How often should I seal my slate floor?
You should seal your slate floor once per year. Your floor may need to be sealed more or less frequently depending on the amount of foot traffic it gets.
Final Thoughts on How to Clean Slate Floors
Slate floors are a beautiful addition to any home. They’re durable and easy to care for, but it’s important to clean them correctly to avoid damaging the stone. Follow these tips in our How to Clean Slate Floors guide and you’ll be sure to keep your slate floors looking like new for years to come!