How To: Clean Slate

How to Clean Slate - Fireplace Surround

Brazilian Black Slate Fireplace Surround. Photo: Mistones

I have a slate fireplace surround that makes my living room feel really warm and earthy, even if the fire is not lit.

Slate is a popular material in homebuilding, used not only in fireplace surrounds, but also in flooring, countertops, and backsplashes, not to mention exterior walkways and walls.

It is popular for its natural beauty and durability. But it only stays beautiful if it is properly cared for. I grew up with a brick hearth and really had no experience with slate prior to this, so I’ve had to do some research on how to clean slate in my home. Here’s what I have learned….

For Regular Cleaning:
- First make sure to sweep, dust, or dry mop the surface to remove any loose dirt.
- Mix a few drops of mild dish detergent in a couple of cups of warm water.
- Use a soft rag (or mop) soaked in the soap solution to rub off dirt and grime.
- Dry with a towel and let the surface air dry completely overnight.

For Deeper Cleaning:
- Follow the steps above for regular cleaning, but once the surface is dry, apply a thin layer of teak oil to the slate with a soft cloth. Teak oil is reasonably priced and available at most large hardware stores. Slate oil also works, but it’s much more expensive and harder to find.

How to Clean Slate - Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaning Solution

Photo: theyummylife.com

For Stain Removal:
- Mix equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle and spray onto any stains. Let it sit for five or ten minutes, then scrub with a soft scrub pad (not steel wool) or a soft-bristled brush. (Be careful if you have a slate floor with colored grout, as this bleach solution could damage the color of that grout.)
- For tougher stains, mix together peroxide and baking soda into a bubbly paste. After the bubbles die down, apply the paste to the stain and let it set. Then wipe the slate clean with a damp, warm towel.

How to Clean Slate - Kitchen Flooring

Photo: madbeachcandykitchen.com

It’s best to clean your slate with water and mild detergent at least every two or three months, even if it doesn’t appear dirty, to help avoid grimy buildup and staining. And since slate is porous (very prone to absorbing moisture and stains), it is recommended that you seal it with a stone-and-tile sealer, a product that is available from big hardware stores or tile vendors.

With regular maintenance, your slate can remain beautiful, warm, and welcoming for years to come.

For more on cleaning, consider:

How To: Clean Stainless Steel
Quick Tip: Cleaning Your Gutters
Cleaning Green: Eco-Friendly Products for Your Home