With the widespread popularity of granite and marble countertops, we’ve seen more and more people choose slate as stone countertop alternative. Not only does slate offer a unique look over other options, but there are practical benefits as well. Not only is slate usually less expensive than granite or marble, but it’s a tough material that is more resistant to staining than some other options out there.
Slate is also more likely to be had in other finishes than just polished, such as honed or natural- cleft finishes. This brings down the maintenance requirements considerably, as you don’t need to worry about polishing or maintaining a mirror-like finish.
So, let’s get into the basics on how to clean and care for your slate countertops:
Avoid Common Household Cleaners
The one mistake we see made the most often when it comes to caring for any natural stone is the use of household cleaners that are acidic or contain ammonia. The issue with acidic chemicals is that they are not only damaging to the protective seal on your stone, but they can etch the surface as well.
On the other end of the spectrum, high pH chemicals such as ammonia or bleach are also damaging to the stone’s seal and should be used with caution. Instead, we recommend using only pH balanced cleaning solutions, such as Granite Gold Daily Cleaner®. This is an effective and non-toxic cleaner while also maintaining the integrity of your protective seal.
Keep Your Counters Clear and Dry
Though it may not seem like it, slate is a somewhat porous material and can absorb liquids if they are left to sit. Also, food and drink spills such as fruit juice, wine, coffee, or soda can eat away at the seal, leave a stain, and also etch the surface of the stone. That’s why it’s important to soak up and wipe away spills as they happen.
Even something as innocuous as cooking oil or water can leave stains. Especially on textured and clefted finishes, hard water deposits can be difficult to remove.
For oil or grease stains:
In order to lift oil that has seeped beneath the surface, you can create a mix of baking soda and acetone to the consistency of pancake batter to cover the affected area. Give this mixture 24 hours to work, before wiping away and rinsing with water. Some stains may require multiple attempts to fully remove.
For organic stains:
For stains like wine, coffee, fruit juice or tea, mix one-part laundry bleach with one-part water and spray it onto the surface (the mixed solution won’t harm stone). Scrub with a safe-on-stone scrub sponge and let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing with water.
After any deep cleaning, always be sure to reseal the stone in that area.
Keep Your Slate Sealed
Like most natural stone, your stone was treated with a protective seal when it was installed. That seal unfortunately isn’t permanent and in order to prevent the kind of damage and staining that we’ve outlined above. In general, we recommend sealing every 6-12 months, but that heavily depends on the kind of use it sees.
You can test the integrity of your seal by pouring a small puddle of water (about 3 inches in diameter) on the stone in several locations and let sit for roughly 30 minutes before wiping it away. If you see a dark spot, that means water is penetrating the stone and it’s time to reseal.
You can find our full guide on sealing here.
Avoid Abrasive Cleaners
While slate is certainly a tough material, it’s not impervious to scratches. It might be tempting to use steel wool or a scouring pad when trying to remove hard water stains or tough grime or soil, but this will just damage your finish. Instead, try wetting a microfiber towel with your pH balanced cleaner and letting it sit over the affected area for 10-15 minutes to help loosen the tougher spots before scrubbing with a nylon pad.
It’s also important to be careful about dragging things like pots, pans, or even other stoneware across the surface. It’s not a bad idea to use serving trays and hot pads for this reason. It’s also important to keep in mind that slate can be a little more susceptible to chipping than other stone.
Have any more specific questions or concerns on how to care for your slate, granite, marble, quartz or other natural stone? Feel free to reach out to our team of Stone Care Experts with more than 60 years of experience at 1-800-475-STONE. Also, be sure to check out our full line stone care products to keep your granite looking as nice as the day it was installed!