by Susan

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by Susan

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Want a clean slate fireplace hearth or fireplace surround? Here are the instructions you need for routine slate cleaning, deep cleaning, stain removal and polishing. Choose from either inexpensive home cleaning remedies or more expensive but powerful commercial slate cleaning products.

Natural slate is a durable product with an earthy, welcoming vibe. Because it is porous, however, it tends to absorb moisture and stains. And dust and dirt can accumulate, especially in the corners, and over time become difficult to remove.

Routine Cleaning of Slate Fireplace Hearths and Surrounds

  • Dust, sweep or vacuum the fireplace slate.
  • For routine cleaning, use a cloth to clean slate with a few drops of dish washing detergent or Spic and Span in a half bucket of water. Rinse with clean water; then wipe dry with another cloth. Allow to dry overnight before using additional cleaners or polishing.

Clean slate with soup and water for a routine cleaning

How to Deep Clean Slate

When the surface is thoroughly dried after a routine cleaning, try either of the cleaning processes recommended below:

Commercial products to clean slate

  •  Using a soft cloth, wipe the slate down with a thin layer of teak oil. With another clean cloth, remove any excess.

Clean slate with teak oil.

How to Remove Stains from Slate Hearths and Fireplace Surrounds

If the deep cleaning left any stains, try any of the procedures listed below to get stains off of slate:

  • One method of removing stains is to clean slate with a paste mix of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Wait until the bubbling ceases, then apply the paste to the stain. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then wipe off with a clean, moist cloth. Do not get this paste mixture on grout between slabs of slate.

clean slate stains with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda paste

  • If oil stains are the issue (popcorn and nachos by the hearth come to mind), a product specifically designed to remove such oil stains, such ad StoneTech Professional Oil Stain Remover, is recommended. Follow the directions exactly, and this product really does the job!How to remove oil stains from state
  • If soot and smoke stains are the primary problem, you can clean slate with Paint N Peel without using harsh chemicals.

Remove soot and smoke stains with Paint N Peel

  • For persistent stains that don’t respond to the hydrogen peroxide paste, scrub with Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) carefully following manufacturer’s directions.

clean slate with trisodium phosphate

How to Polish Slate

Some of the commercial slate cleaners include a polishing agent. And if you have used teak oil to clean slate, that often provides a sufficient gloss.

For a bit more gloss on your slate, we recommend Black Diamond Wet Look Natural Stone Sealer. Because slate is a porous stone, it will not leave the “wet” look advertised, but it will give a good sheen. It also seals it from future staining.
How to add sheen to clean slate

In the eighteenth century, slate hearths were polished with hot mutton fat. As a 21st century alternative, we recommend teak oil or furniture polish.

 

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11 Comments

  1. Sandy Case November 10, 2015 at 9:11 PM - Reply

    It’s about time someone covered this subject! Cleaning Slate Hearths is a battle I have been going through for the last forty years. I have always just wiped it off with Lemon Oil but that didn’t really remove any of the stains it has accumulated over the years.
    Thanks for the information! I did learn something and should have known your website would be where I got the information from. Good Job Folks!

    Sandy in California

    • Tom February 9, 2016 at 4:30 PM - Reply

      Thank you for your kind words, Sandy!
      You may need to use one of the commercial slate cleaners or the baking soda-peroxide combination to get rid of those old stains.
      Good luck!

  2. Judy Abercromgie October 3, 2017 at 4:20 PM - Reply

    is it safe to use Tung oil to clean the slate around a gas fireplace?

  3. Vincent De Cerchio April 2, 2018 at 3:06 PM - Reply

    Furniture polish like liquid gold does not work on hearth slate. When applied it looks good, but when the fireplace is turned on the slate becomes streaked with white where the polish from the heat.

    • Krista December 2, 2018 at 4:26 PM - Reply

      How would you remove paint from the slate during a remodel. The old MDF covered the slate by about 1 inch and there is leftover paint.

      • Tom January 4, 2023 at 11:46 PM - Reply

        If it is latex paint, first try using isopropyl alcohol. Allow it time to soften the paint, then carefully scrap with a plastic putty knife. If it is oil based paint, try rubbing the painted area with a mineral spirits or lacquer thinner soaked rag. Then clean well. Good luck.

  4. Deere John March 25, 2019 at 8:46 AM - Reply

    I use baby oil on my slate. Looks good

    • Tom January 4, 2023 at 11:51 PM - Reply

      Baby oil is actually a mineral oil. It’s not as combustible as other petroleum distillates. But use sparingly and never leave a bottle or puddle of it near a fire.

  5. Alexandra Allison September 5, 2019 at 4:47 AM - Reply

    Could you please advise on the best way to remove candle wax from slate?
    Any help would be appreciated.
    Kind regards.

    • Tom January 4, 2023 at 11:56 PM - Reply

      First, freeze that wax. One way is by putting a sealed bag of ice on the wax on the slate hearth. Then use a plastic scraper to remove as much as possible. Follow up by rubbing well with a rag moistened with acetone (or nail polish remover) or mineral spirits. Good luck, Alexandra.

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