Asked on May 11, 2012

Mopping a slate floor

Melissa G
by Melissa G

What is the best way to mop a slate floor? What cleaning solution should we use? We have slate tiles in the kitchen with concrete mortar. You can see from the pictures that the surfaces of the slate tiles are uneven. They are also porous (water dripped on them is absorbed). I sweep regularly, which isn't easy because of the uneven surfaces. I have mopped once with a Swiffer Wet Jet but I'm not sure whether that's OK to use repeatedly.

A close-up of one of the tiles to show how uneven the surface is.
  43 answers
  • Pam Pam on May 11, 2012
    Have you sealed the slate and grout since it was installed?
  • Marg C Marg C on May 11, 2012
    it should have been sealed. water shouldn't be absorbing in to the slate. Once it's sealed then it's easy breezy to damp mop :)
  • Maria C Maria C on May 11, 2012
    yes, I think you should sealed it. I used Minwax - Fast-Drying Polyurethane VarnishAvg. Price: $6.27 per quart Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane dries in about two hours to a light-colored
  • Pam Pam on May 11, 2012
    Lowes and Home Depot have sealers just for grout and tile floors. Once you seal it you should not problems with mopping and it will help keep your grout from staining and getting grungy. When I had my installed, I made sure to put 2 coats in the grout and it never looks dirty or stains. Mine was out down 5 years ago and still looks clean all of the time and I am out and in with gardening constantly. It was recommended I seal it when I purchased the times and the installer told me I had to seal it also. The reason I put tile is that I love to walk bare footed on clean mopped floors.
  • Melissa G Melissa G on May 12, 2012
    Thanks, everyone. It was installed by the previous owners and not sealed. That seems like the solution! Is it easy enough to seal it myself?
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on May 12, 2012
    As a tile installer I have to say that they did a pretty lousy job of grouting...there is grout inboard of the tile edges along many of the surface texture edges...that is just unprofessional. Grouting slate is a bugger...and I "pre-seal" the slate BEFORE grouting to aid in the grouting process, then I seal it again after the grout has cured. I love the look of slate but prefer it in vertical applications where the cleaning concerns are minimized.
  • Superior Remodeling, LLC Superior Remodeling, LLC on May 12, 2012
    have to agree with KMS grout should only be left between the tiles not on the tiles. And as far as sealing the tile the best thing for slate is Enhance&seal Stone sealer they sell it at home depot and lowes. Works great you can just apply it with an empty spray bottle or with a sponge. It brings out the natural colors of the slate and makes an easy to clean surface. Once it is sealed the best thing to clean it with is just warm water with a little bit of any type of floor cleaner that does not have amonia in it.
  • Pam Pam on May 12, 2012
    I applied my sealer with a flat sponge mop. Easy to apply and dries failrly quickly. I turned on my ceiling fan and in a few minutes it was done. Of course, I had my whole house to seal so I just mopped myself out of the door an sat with a glass of iced tea on the patio for a while until it dried. I earned that break anyway. Slate is beautiful once sealed. It makes the color richer and just gorgeous.
  • Designing Home INc. Designing Home INc. on May 12, 2012
    I see from pictures that floor is sealed. but the seal the slate is not something that you do once and done, every 6 to 12 mounts you should seal the floor depends how much traffic there is. if you do that then vacuum the floor and once in awhile as superior remodeling said just mop with warm water add cleaner with no ammonia.
  • Superior Remodeling, LLC Superior Remodeling, LLC on May 12, 2012
    yep any normal stone sealer is 6-12 months Enhance & Seal is every 3 years
  • Hamtil Construction LLC Hamtil Construction LLC on May 12, 2012
    Hi Melissa- It's not too difficult to seal your floor, especially as you will be sealing the tile and grout all together. You might consider whether or not you need a deeper cleaning prior to sealing over the floor, as it has been installed a while. For that, it might need something aggressive like an acid wash. You may want to avoid that yourself. As for the sealer, Superior recommended a good product in the enhancer. Personally, I use enhancer mostly on backsplashes and walls. Enhancer leaves the stone with a "wet" look and brings out colors. Usually for floors I like Aqua Mix Sealers Choice Gold. It will give a no-sheen natural finish. Alternatively, Aqua Mix Seal & Finish Low Sheen will give a low sheen gloss finish. Both are good products. For regular cleaning, a neutral cleaner is good. You could try 3/4 cup white vinegar in a gallon of hot water. A higher alkaline cleaner can be used for more infrequent deep cleaning.
  • Melissa G Melissa G on May 13, 2012
    Thanks, everyone. This is terrific advice. Hamtil Construction, how long does the Aqua Mix sealer last? (How long until I have to reapply it?)
  • You should probably plan to reapply sealer on slate every 12 months...all sealers usually need to be reapplied annually or periodically depending on the material and the sealer
  • Jamie M Jamie M on May 14, 2012
    My entire house has slate floors. I have tried every way to get it really clean. By chance I found an old 2 circular brush carpet cleaner with tank-still working-$5. and for $8. an on old carpet spray and suction carpet cleaner. I scrub with the upright then pour on clean water and suction the water with the other carpet cleaner. Once a month with this routine and daily cleaning by using pre moistened floor wipes with styled mop keeps it looking great.
  • Hamtil Construction LLC Hamtil Construction LLC on May 15, 2012
    Melissa- Best practice is probably 12-24 mos, depending on the wear. Higher gloss will show wear more. Also, in a kitchen the chairs/ table legs will probably tend to wear on the tile more as well. In my opinion, keeping it sealed more frequently is best due to the nature of kitchen spills and high wear.
  • Marg C Marg C on May 16, 2012
    that's an awful lot of work to do once a month Jamie. Did you seal the floors?
  • Jamie M Jamie M on May 16, 2012
    No I didn't seal the floors. The store we purchased from suggested that we not seal it. I don't remember his reason though. It takes a couple of hours to do the entire house. That's not too bad.
  • Marg C Marg C on May 16, 2012
    more power to you Jamie :D
  • TyJax TyJax on May 18, 2012
    Ill tell ya what.... here is, what I did. Had a steam cleaning company come out, and steam cleaned the floor. Few hours later we sealed it several times with a low sheen sealer. now we just wet mop (actual string mop). and it works well.
  • Barbara Barbara on May 19, 2012
    You an purchase a steam mop, they are not too expensive. I have a bissel, Shark also makes one. I purchased mine at Target. We have very old dark blue and white checker board tile floors. I love the way they look but have lost their finish, so I use the steam mop whish is easy to use and it also sanitizes the floors.
  • Marg C Marg C on May 20, 2012
    steam is great for sanitizing too. The hand held are also great for getting in to small places and corners.
  • Melissa G Melissa G on May 20, 2012
    Terrific advice, everyone. Thank you.
  • Melissa G Melissa G on Aug 25, 2012
    Just wanted to give you an update -- I cleaned the floor Friday and sealed it yesterday, and it came out great! Thank you so much for the advice! One problem, however -- the Aqua Mix Enhance & Seal has left an oily, slippery residue all over the floor. I checked the company's website and it blames the residue on me not wiping the tiles after I applied the sealer. It recommends I use one of their own products (NanoScrub) to get rid of it. Do you think I need to use their product, or can I use something else like SoftScrub, or even Dawn diluted in water?
  • Marg C Marg C on Aug 26, 2012
    hmmm, how about mild vinegar and water? I wouldn't use anything harsh on it.
  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on Aug 26, 2012
    Id suggest following their recommendations! Would be sad to start it all over again
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Aug 26, 2012
    I'd go with their product...most manufacturers have chemists on board and will dovetail their products to enhance each other.
  • Jo hole Jo hole on Aug 26, 2012
    For what it is worth, this is the instructions that were given me by the tile cleaning company, who cleaned and sealed my tiled las week. His instructions were, use a string mop, but, one of those that has foam strings, two buckets of water. One with a Mr. Clean like cleaner and water in it, the other one just plain warm water. Dip the mop in the Mr. Clean solution, mop the floor, rinse the mop in the plain water, go over the floor with the plain water mop. He says the dirt gets into the grout, and when you mop it, gets caught in the grout. So with going over it with clean water will remove the dirt left behind by the mop. The steam mop, he says ok to use, but not often, that the steam will harm the grout.
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Aug 27, 2012
    I contacted the manufactor and this is the information I recieved/ Use a dry cloth to wipe up spills and messes. For daily cleaning use a mild detergent like dishwashing liquid. To remove grout joints to lossen debris use a soft bristled brush. Thouroughly rinse the area to remove any remaining cleaner and wip dry. You can also use a pH balanced cleaners for everyday cleaning. Heavy duty cleaning Use pH balaced cleaners for heavy duty cleaning needs. These can include scoring cleaners and poultices manufactured for this purpose. Test a small portion of the slate stone tile or with any abrasive poweder to check to so if it will adversely afftect the finish of the stone/ Commerical floor buffers or cleaning machines are perfectly suited to large areas of slate stone and tile and grout. It is very essentional to rinse the slate stone thourough to remove any cleaners/ A sealer will make sure you are protecting your slate stone/ A high quiality sealers will make sure of retaining the original finish and keep it stain free. You moste remove all grit and dirt from slate on a regular basis. Do not use vingegar on it. It is a acid which will etch it. Before you take advice form a bunch of strangers which most of the time is wrong. Contact the maunufactor. All you have to do is google Slate Stone Manufactors guidelines. They will give you the cleaning specifcation on it. Most new home made and old stand bys like vinegar cleaning are wrong. Being educated is right. I own a cleaning business. I have made tons of mistakes on peoples houses when I first began. I needed to make sure I didn't repeat myself. I learned this after ruining my new wood floors after they had been refinished. I go directly to the manufactor sights to find out the right way to clean. They not the salesman not the installer will tell you how they want them cleaned. I do this everytime I am cleaning something new. I print them off and carry them with me. Good luck
  • Melissa G Melissa G on Aug 27, 2012
    Thanks again, everyone. I have sinced hand-washed the floor with a whole bunch of Dawn and water, then sprayed and wiped with Fantastik. It has really helped. There is only a tiny bit of residue left but I think another couple of times with the Fantastik should do it. If it doesn't, I'll get the company's Nanoscrub. Water is now beading up on the floor, which is a pleasure to see -- the sealer was worth it!
  • Home Depot has a cleaner that contains acid, it's nothing to be scared of, it'll make your slate look like new
  • Becky P Becky P on Jan 23, 2013
    your floor is beautiful!
  • Hamtil Construction LLC Hamtil Construction LLC on Jan 27, 2013
    @Melissa G - Sorry to hear that you had trouble with the Aqua Mix Sealer! Never seen the residue happen. Can you post a pic of the post- sealed floor? Would love to see the enhanced colors!
  • Nilda Braren Nilda Braren on Jul 05, 2013
    Hello I own my home. when we purchased this house, it already had slate and in between is concrete. My dog sometimes pee on the floor and i hate it because i don't know if there's a way to clean the mess. any suggestions.
  • Nilda Braren Nilda Braren on Jul 05, 2013
    how can i post a pic so u know what i am talking about
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jul 06, 2013
    @Nilda Braren you can post a pic by clicking on the "add photos" link below the text box.
  • Antares Antares on Nov 03, 2013
    Where is the add photos button?
  • Pic597779 Pic597779 on Sep 29, 2014
    DO NOT use any type of cleaner that has an acid base (even natural types, such as vinegar). This will damage your floor and may result in costly repair or replacement.
  • Paula Edmonds Paula Edmonds on Oct 01, 2014
    Our kitchen slate floor is similar to yours. I use a damp mop -not soaking wet- with a bucket of Pinsol. In between deep cleaning I use the Swiffer Wet Jet. Our problem is the grout between crumbles and has been replaced 3 times. Every time new grout is put in - I seal it with a sealer from Home Depot.
  • Keziah Keziah on Jan 30, 2015
    I have black slate tile in my solarium.I would like it to have the color and shine a black licorice. Does anyone have any suggestions on what I can use to get this look?
  • Bmc31738928 Bmc31738928 on Nov 15, 2017

    I was told to use a half cup of rubbing alcohol in 1 quart of water. Apply using a sponge.....what say you folks

  • Kathy Fal Cone Kathy Fal Cone on May 03, 2019

    I used dawn and water to clean my slate floors, and then steam mopped them. They need to be sealed as well, but there are a few stains that I can't get out....possibly oil? I don't think previous owners sealed them, and they're in the kitchen. :(

    Any suggestions?

  • Deb K Deb K on Oct 15, 2022

    Hi Melissa, hope this helps you out.