How to Clean and Seal Slate Floors

Slate floors can add beautiful and natural stone texture to any room. However, keeping slate floors properly cleaned and sealed is essential for maintaining their appearance and durability. Proper care requires regular cleaning and re-sealing over time. Here is a complete guide on how to clean and seal slate floors.

Getting Started with Cleaning Slate Floors

Before beginning any intensive cleaning, thoroughly sweep or vacuum slate floors to remove loose dirt and debris. This prevents abrasives from scratching the surface during the wet cleaning process.

Determine the appropriate cleaning method based on how dirty the floors are:

  • For light cleaning, use a pH-neutral cleaner and mop.
  • For a deeper clean, use an alkaline-based soapstone and marble cleaner.
  • For stubborn stains and dirt, use a poultice to draw out ingrained grime.

Make sure to spot test cleaners in an inconspicuous area first. Check that they do not etch or discolor the stone.

Supplies Needed

  • pH-neutral cleaner or alkaline-based stone soap
  • Clean mop heads
  • Soft-bristled scrub brushes
  • Poultice (such as lithium-based)
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Rubber gloves
  • Knee pads

Cleaning Step-by-Step

  1. Sweep or vacuum floors thoroughly to remove loose dirt and debris.
  2. For a light clean, mix pH-neutral cleaner with warm water per label instructions. For a deep clean, use an alkaline-based soapstone cleaner instead.
  3. Working in manageable sections, mop cleaner solution onto the floor. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Scrub floors using a soft-bristled brush or cleaning pad. Rub gently in the direction of the stone veins.
  5. Mop up dirty solution with clean mop heads. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove residue.
  6. Check for stubborn stains or dirt. Use a poultice to draw out ingrained grime if needed.
  7. Let floors fully dry. Check for streaks or haze and re-clean if necessary.

Cleaning Tips

  • Always use clean mop heads to prevent spreading dirty residue.
  • Rinse floors thoroughly after cleaning to remove soap residue.
  • Change cleaning solution often to prevent dirt from redepositing.
  • Be gentle during scrubbing to avoid damaging the slate surface.
  • Periodic deep cleaning may be needed for high-traffic areas.

Sealing Slate Floors

Sealing is crucial for protecting the porous surface of slate floors. Sealers prevent stains, enhance color, and provide water resistance. Slate will need resealing every 1-3 years depending on traffic and wear.

Supplies Needed

  • Stone sealer suitable for slate
  • Paint rollers and tray
  • Clean microfiber cloths
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Painter’s tape
  • Safety gloves, goggles

How to Seal

  1. Clean floors thoroughly prior to sealing using the steps above.
  2. Mask off baseboards with painter’s tape to prevent drips. Open windows to ventilate.
  3. Apply sealer evenly using a paint roller in thin coats. Let fully dry between coats.
  4. For an ultra-smooth surface, buff sealer with superfine steel wool once fully cured.
  5. Remove tape and roller marks. Reseal if needed for an even finish.

Sealing Tips

  • Allow new slate floors to cure fully prior to sealing.
  • Test sealer first before applying to entire floor.
  • 2-3 thin coats often provides better protection than one thick coat.
  • Reseal as needed based on wear, traffic, and appearance.
  • Buffing after curing refines the surface for a polished look.

Cleaning Porcelain, Ceramic, and Pebble Tiled Floors

Porcelain, ceramic, and pebble tiles require similar cleaning methods as slate floors. However, these tiles have tighter grout lines that are prone to trapping dirt and grime. Regular cleaning keeps grout lines clean and reduces staining on the tile surface.

Supplies Needed

  • pH-neutral tile cleaner
  • Grout brush or toothbrush
  • Microfiber mop pads
  • Bucket
  • Rubber grout float
  • Grout sealer (penetrating or topical)
  • Clean water

Step-by-Step Cleaning

  1. Sweep or vacuum loose dirt. Mix tile cleaner with water in a bucket per label directions.
  2. Dip a microfiber mop pad into the solution and mop onto the floor. Let it dwell for 5 minutes.
  3. Scrub grout lines gently with a grout brush or toothbrush. Rub stubborn spots with a grout float.
  4. Mop up dirty solution. Rinse the floor thoroughly with clean water and mop again.
  5. Check for hazy tile or residue. Re-clean and rinse if needed.
  6. Allow floors to fully dry. Seal grout lines with penetrating or topical sealer.

Preventative Care

  • Sweep or vacuum weekly to prevent built-up dirt in grout lines.
  • Mix 1:4 white vinegar and water for regular mopping.
  • Reseal grout every 1-2 years depending on wear.
  • Use floor mats at entrances to minimize dirt and grit.

Cleaning Slate, Tile, and Grout Floors with a Steamer

Using a steam cleaner is an effective chemical-free way to sanitize and clean slate, tile, and grout floors. The steam simultaneously disinfects, dissolves grime, and deodorizes.

When to Use a Steamer

Steamers are ideal for routine maintenance and deep cleaning:

  • Sanitizing floors in bathrooms and kitchens
  • Cleaning high traffic areas
  • Removing wax or acrylic coatings
  • Refreshing grout lines
  • Deep cleaning stained or heavily soiled floors

Using a Steamer

  1. Vacuum and sweep floors to remove loose debris.
  2. Fill steamer with distilled water to avoid mineral deposits.
  3. Attach appropriate brush or pad attachment.
  4. Pass steamer slowly over floor, concentrating on grout lines and stained areas.
  5. Wipe up released dirt with microfiber pad or mop.
  6. Repeat as needed for heavy stain removal.

Steamer Tips

  • Work in sections for thorough results and to avoid water pooling.
  • Scrub with brush for more aggressive cleaning.
  • Rinse with clean water after heavy soil is lifted.
  • Check steamer instructions for proper pad attachments.
  • Allow floors to fully dry to avoid moisture damage.

Best Practices for Routine Slate and Tile Floor Care

  • Place natural fiber rugs at entrances to absorb dirt and grit.
  • Sweep, vacuum, or dry mop daily to remove surface debris.
  • For spills, blot immediately to avoid staining or etching.
  • Clean floors at least weekly with damp mopping. Use neutral pH cleaner.
  • In bathrooms, use a squeegee after showering to prevent water spots.
  • Reseal and polish slate floors as needed when appearance declines.
  • Have grout professionally cleaned and resealed every 1-2 years.
  • Use furniture pads under chair and table legs to prevent scratching.

Troubleshooting Common Slate and Tile Floor Cleaning Issues

Scuff marks – Scrub gently with a soft brush and pH-neutral cleaner. Rinse thoroughly. Reseal slate floors to strengthen protective barrier.

Etch marks or hazing – Mark the areas and clean with an alkaline cleaner to remove mineral deposits. Reseal floors.

Bacteria or mold growth in grout – Use steam cleaner or disinfectant to sanitize grout lines. Allow to dry fully. Reseal grout.

Grease stains – Gently scrub with baking soda and vinegar paste. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Wax or acrylic buildup – Use steamer to remove coatings. Scrub with stripping pad. Rinse thoroughly.

Dingy or discolored grout – Use oxygen bleach cleaner or baking soda paste. Rinse thoroughly and allow to fully dry. Reseal grout.

Scratched or damaged floors – Consult a stone restoration professional. May require polishing or resurfacing to repair.

Maintaining Other Types of Natural Stone Floors

Methods for cleaning slate floors work well for other natural stone types. However, each stone has unique properties that benefit from specific care.

Marble Floor Maintenance

  • Avoid acid-based cleaners which can etch marble. Use alkaline stone cleaners instead.
  • Reseal frequently, at least once annually, to prevent staining.
  • Gentle routine cleaning is best for delicate marble.
  • Repair etching or scratches by having floors honed or polished.

Limestone Floor Care

  • Limestone is prone to etching from acids. Use cleaners formulated for limestone.
  • Reseal limestone twice annually due to softness and porosity.
  • Rinse floors thoroughly after cleaning to remove residue.
  • Limit water exposure which can stain or corrode limestone.

Travertine Floor Maintenance

  • Mop with a pH-neutral cleaner only. Avoid acidic cleaners.
  • Use a sealer made specifically for travertine for best results.
  • Have professional honing done every 2-3 years to remove small scratches.
  • Limit abrasive scrubbing which can further scratch travertine.

Granite Floor Cleaning

  • Clean with pH-neutral cleaner and soft brush weekly.
  • Reseal annually or biannually with a granite sealer.
  • Removing stains may require poultice or professional cleaning.
  • Avoid bleach or alkaline cleaners which can react with minerals.

When to Call for Professional Slate and Tile Floor Maintenance

While DIY cleaning can keep floors fresh between deep cleanings, periodically having professional maintenance performed ensures floors stay beautiful long-term.

Consider professional services for:

  • Deep cleaning caked-on grime or stubborn stains
  • Repairing etched, scratched, or cracked tiles
  • Grinding down uneven tile surfaces
  • Re-grouting deteriorated or discolored grout
  • Heavy duty wax stripping or coating removal
  • Full restoration of damaged or neglected floors
  • Sanitizing after sewage backups or water damage

Professionals also have specialized equipment to fully restore slate and tile floors beyond what household methods can achieve. Investing in professional care and maintenance every few years reduces the need for more costly restoration or repairs down the line.

FAQ About Cleaning and Sealing Slate Floors

How often should slate floors be professionally cleaned and resealed?

For high traffic areas, professional deep cleaning and resealing every 1-2 years helps maintain slate’s beauty and function. Clean and reseal low traffic slate floors every 3-5 years.

What is the best method for deep cleaning stained or dirty slate floors?

Using a poultice to draw out ingrained dirt and stains, followed by pressure washing, provides a deep clean for slate floors. Professionals have the proper equipment to effectively pressure wash and extract grime from slate.

Why does my sealed slate floor look hazy?

Hazing on sealed slate is typically caused by moisture getting trapped under the sealer during application. This causes a milky appearance. Degreasing and resealing the hazy areas can remedy this issue.

Are steam cleaners safe for use on slate floors?

Yes, when used properly steam cleaners provide an effective chemical-free cleaning method. Be sure to pass slowly to avoid excess moisture and allow floors to fully dry to prevent water damage.

What is the best way to clean grout haze off slate tile?

Use an alkaline-based cleaner specifically for stone to gently scrub away grout haze. Acidic cleaners can etch slate. Be careful not to scrub tiles, just focus on grout lines.

How can I remove rust stains from my slate floor?

Rust stains can be stubborn to remove from slate. Often a rust stain remover or oxalic acid-based poultice is required. Test in an inconspicuous area first before attempting removal.

What causes pitting in my slate floor?

Pitting in slate is typically a sign of acidic etching over time. To prevent further etching, use only pH-neutral cleaners. Severely etched floors may need honing and polishing to smooth pits.


With proper routine care and periodic professional maintenance, slate floors can stay looking like new for decades. By using the right gentle cleaners, resealing on schedule, and addressing stains or damage promptly, slate floors will retain their sophisticated style and durability. Be sure to tailor cleaning methods to the specific needs of your slate or tile flooring. With some elbow grease and vigilance, you can keep your natural stone floors in flawless shape.

How to Clean and Seal Slate Floors: An Informative Guide

Slate floors add timeless beauty and value to any home. Their rich colors and stone textures provide unmatched style. However, without proper care and maintenance, slate floors can become irreversibly damaged or worn. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to effectively clean and seal slate floors.

This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know to properly care for your slate floors. You’ll learn insider cleaning tips, sealing techniques, troubleshooting for common problems, and when to call the pros. With these slate floor cleaning and sealing secrets, you can keep your floors looking stunning for decades to come.

Equipment Needed for Cleaning and Sealing Slate

Having the right tools makes cleaning and sealing slate floors much easier. Here are the must-have supplies to gather:

  • pH neutral stone cleaner
  • Soft bristle scrub brushes
  • Microfiber mops and cloths
  • Absorbent towels
  • Knee pads
  • Rubber gloves
  • Painters tape
  • Stone sealer (water-based recommend)
  • Paint roller & tray, brush

Thorough Cleaning of Slate Floors

Regular slate floor cleaning is crucial for preventing buildup of dirt, grime, and bacteria. How you clean depends on the floor’s condition:

For Light Cleaning:

  • Sweep or vacuum loose debris
  • Mix pH neutral cleaner with water
  • Damp mop floors with solution
  • Rinse thoroughly until water runs clear

For a Deeper Clean:

  • Sweep and vacuum floors
  • Use an alkaline-based soapstone cleaner
  • Let solution sit 5-10 minutes
  • Gently scrub floors with a soft bristle brush
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water

For Caked on Dirt:

  • Sweep and vacuum floors
  • Apply a poultice to draw out grime
  • Let poultice sit according to directions
  • Scrape off poultice and rinse floor
  • Repeat as needed for heavy soiling

Sealing Slate Flooring

Applying a quality sealer protects slate floors from stains, etching, and wear. Sealers also enhance the color and provide water resistance.

How Often to Seal:

  • Every 1-3 years for high traffic areas
  • Every 3-5 years for low traffic areas

Tips for Sealing:

  • Clean floors thoroughly before sealing
  • Use 2-3 thin coats, allowing drying in between
  • Select water-based sealer for easier application
  • Buff sealed floors with steel wool for sheen

Maintaining Other Natural Stone Floors

Methods for cleaning and sealing slate work well for other stone flooring types. However, each stone has unique properties.

Marble Floor Care

  • Use pH neutral cleaners
  • Avoid acidic cleaners that etch marble
  • Reseal frequently, at least annually
  • Gently clean delicate marble

Limestone Floor Maintenance

  • Use limestone-safe cleaners
  • Reseal limestone twice annually
  • Rinse well after cleaning
  • Limit water exposure to prevent staining

Travertine Floor Care

  • Only use pH neutral cleaners on travertine
  • Install travertine-specific sealer
  • Professionally hone every 2-3 years
  • Avoid abrasive scrubbing

Granite Floor Tips

  • Clean weekly with pH neutral cleaner
  • Reseal annually or biannually
  • Use poultice for stain removal
  • Avoid bleach or alkaline cleaners

Troubleshooting Common Slate Flooring Problems

Scuff Marks

Gently scrub with pH neutral cleaner and soft brush. Rinse and reseal.

Hazy Appearance

This is moisture trapped under sealer. Degrease and reseal affected areas.

Bacteria or Mold in Grout

Use steam cleaner and disinfectant. Allow to fully dry and reseal grout.

Etch Marks

Mark areas and clean with alkaline cleaner. Rinse thoroughly and reseal floor.

Grease Stains

Apply baking soda and vinegar paste. Let sit then rinse thoroughly.

Wax Buildup

Use steamer and stripping pad to remove wax. Rinse thoroughly.

Scratched Floors

Consult stone restoration professional for repairs.

Pitted Slate

Caused by acidic etching over time. Use pH neutral cleaners and consider honing.

Calling in the Professionals

While regular DIY care keeps slate floors fresh, periodically having professionals perform deep cleanings and restoration ensures long-lasting beauty. Consider professional services for:

  • Deep cleaning extremely dirty floors
  • Repairing cracked, scratched tiles
  • Re-grouting deteriorated grout
  • Heavy duty sealer removal
  • Fixing uneven tile surfaces
  • Full restoration of damaged floors

Professionals have the right techniques and equipment to address issues beyond basic home care.