Cleaning slate isn’t too difficult. It’s vital, however,to know what kind of dirt or contaminant you are trying to remove before you can make a decision as to which cleaning product is best suitable.
Slate comes in many different colours and finishes. Some of these are smooth whereas others have a textured surface. Undoubtedly, slate is a very popular material for flooring right now.
Slate generally has good resistance to mild acids so this gives you a much wider choice of cleaning materials than you would have with more acid-sensitive stones like limestone or marble.
So, how do we go about cleaning our slate floor?
First, you need to check whether the contaminant is mineral based? e.g. grout staining, cement, rust or general dirt. If it is, you would be advised to use a mild acid cleaner such as one based on phosphoric acid. Beware though as any acid cleaner may etch the grout also.
In most other situations where you have, for example, general dirt and grime, wax, oil or a general build up of old polishes etc. I would recommend using a strong alkaline cleaner for periodic intensive cleaning. For everyday cleaning I’d recommend using a mild, neutral cleaner.
Here’s an Expert’s 6 – Step Guide to Cleaning Slate:
1. Ensure your slate is protected with a high quality sealer: either an impregnating sealer which will give you a natural look with a mat finish and below surface stain protection. Or, if you prefer the look of wet slate, in so far as the darker colours, but still want a natural, mat, no-sheen finish, then look a good quality enhancing sealer such as Enhance ‘N’ Seal. Alternatively you can use a coating sealer for a pleasant low sheen gloss which really helps any ongoing cleaning.
2. You must eliminate all grit – this is the major cause of all wear to slate floors. Ideally, place a dust mat both inside and outside the room which will help remove grit from shoes and prevent it from spreading to the slate floor.
3. Sweep and vacuum the slate floor regularly. This will also help remove grit from the surface of the floor.
4. Mop up and soak up isolated spillages as they happen. You shouldn’t leave strong contaminants such as coffee or wine to dwell on a slate floor.
5. Wash the slate regularly intervals using a mild, neutral cleaner. This will clean the slate but it won’t damage the stone, grout or the sealer used.
6. Less frequently, carry out a deep clean. For this, we recommend using a high alkaline cleaner. More in Part 2.
Update 22/01/13 – Check out this case study on cleaning slate
Copyright Ian Taylor and The Tile and Stone Blog.co.uk, 2013. See copyright notice above.