What Can You Use to Clean Slate in Front of a Fireplace?

Updated February 21, 2017

Fireplaces add elegance and interest to a room, but having a fire in that fireplace can cause the area around it to get sooty and dirty. If you have slate in front of your fireplace, clean it often to make sure it doesn't get stained or etched. Use cleaning solutions that won't damage the natural stone surfaces. Never use tough abrasives like steel wool or strong chemicals like bleach, as they will damage the slate surface.


Sweep the area thoroughly to remove as much of the dry soot and dirt as possible. Dry soot and dirt is easier to remove than wet dirt, which can settle easily into slate and grout. If you immediately wet the area, it will be harder to clean and it will take more time to clean. Sweep the soot into a dustpan and throw it away.


Vacuums allow you to pick up as much of the soot and dirt as you possibly can. Very fine soot can damage some vacuums, so be careful not to clean up a lot of soot this way if you suspect that your vacuum could get damaged. Thus, use a vacuum after sweeping so that you collect the residue and not the bulk of the soot in the machine.

Liquid Dish Soap

Soot and dirt are relatively simple to clean, especially if you clean the slate often and if the soot hasn't been sitting on the slate for a long time. Liquid dish soap is mild enough not to damage the slate but tough enough to remove soot. To use it, mix a few drops liquid dish soap with hot water until the water is soapy. Apply the solution to the slate and let it sit for a few minutes so that it has time to loosen the soot. Use mild dish soap that doesn't contain bleach.

Scrubbing Brushes

Scrubbing brushes will help loosen the dirt and soot that might be in the crevices or on the surface of the slate tiles. Brushes are especially useful if you have a rough-surfaced tile with small crevices, nooks and crannies. Use a grout brush to clean the grout, but be careful not to scratch the slate surface. Never use a tough-bristled wire brush, as it will damage the slate surface.

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About the Author

Kaye Wagner has been working in the fields of journalism and public relations since 2006 and is a recipient of a National Hearst Award. She is particularly interested in home-and-garden projects, as well as beauty and fashion writing. An avid traveler, she also writes travel reviews and guides. Wagner earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Brigham Young University.