Homeowners install slate tiles on floors, walls and countertops to give the room a natural look. Waxing is one way of sealing the stone surface. Some homeowners clean the slate-surface regularly with products that contain wax such as Mop ‘N Glo, which after repeated applications leaves a buildup. Applying wax over the slate tile surface protects the slate and keeps stains from settling into the slate. When waxed, spills on a slate-surface will bead up rather than absorb into the stone. Over time, through use and exposure to sunlight and cleaning wax will break down may leave the countertop, floor or wall with a hazy finish or some stone waxes will turn yellow, which are all indicators of the slate needing a new coat of wax. Before you can wax the slate, you have to strip the old wax off the surface.

Stripping a topical wax off the slate-surface isn’t overly difficult if you choose the right products. Some floor strippers are difficult and time consuming to use, while others are made with the average homeowner in mind.  Some wax-strippers have a heavy odor, while others have a tolerable smell. Stripping the old wax off the slate-surface with restore the beauty to your floors, walls or countertops.

Stripping the Wax

Buy a commercially available wax-stripper specifying it is safe for use on natural stone. Two good choices for stripping wax off slate are Be

llinzoni Ultrastripper Stone Cleaner or Bona Kemi Usa Inc Stone Tile Cleaner Kit Household Floor Strippers Waxes & Conditioners. Both wax-strippers are easy to use and don’t require any specialty tools. Bona Kemi Stone Tile Cleaner Kit comes with basically everything you will need to strip the wax off the slate.

Move throw rugs, furniture and other items that are on the floor or on top of the kitchen countertop or hanging on the wall you wish to clean. If you can move furniture and other items out of the room, slide them to one side. Work on the side of the room without the furniture and them move to the other side once you are finished. If you are leaving furniture and other items in the room, protect them with a tarp or drop cloths before removing the wax from the slate.

Put on a pair of safety goggles, thick rubber gloves and if you are stripping the wax off of a slate floor, wear kneepads if you plan on using a sponge rather than a mop.

Open the windows in the room and set up a fan blowing the air and odor out the window or turn on an exhaust fan if there is one in the room. Some wax-stripper fumes can be overpowering.

Some wax-strippers come as a ready to use formula and some come as a concentrate which needs to be diluted. Read the manufacturer’s directions to determine which type of wax-stripper you have. If you have a concentrated wax-stripper, add water to a bucket and stir in the wax-stripper to blend the two ingredients.

 Submerge a sponge mop or sponge into the bucket of wax-stripper. Squeeze out a little of the wax-stripper, leaving the mop or sponge very wet, but not dripping. Sponge mops can be used on either the floor or wall. Sponges can be used on floors, walls or countertops.

Apply a coat of the wax-stripper over a small 2 by 2 foot section of the slate. Start in the corner of the room or at the edge of the countertop.

Leave the wax-stripper on the slate-surface for between 10 and 20 minutes. Each manufacturer has its own amount of time the product is required to remain on the floor. If you notice the wax-stripper drying on the slate-surface, apply more wax-stripper.

Rub a rag over the floor, wall or countertop to remove the layers of wax. Constantly turn the rag or replace the rag to avoid smearing the old wax over the slate-surface. Continue to wipe the floor with the rags until you remove all of the wax.

Depending on the amount of wax on the slate, you may have to apply a second coat of wax-stripper to the slate to remove excess wax. If the wall, countertop or floor has many coats of old wax, it may take two or three coats of wax-stripper to reveal the slate-surface.

Move to the next 2 by 2 foot section and repeat the process. Continue to move to a new section of the floor, wall or countertop and keep applying wax-stripper and wiping away the wax until you’ve removed all of the wax from the slate.

Fill a bucket with warm water and add a squirt of dish washing soap to the water. Stir the water to mix in the soap.  

Dip a mop into the cleaning water and wash the floor or wall. Use a sponge if you are cleaning a countertop.

Spill the cleaning water out and rinse the bucket well to remove all soapy residue.

Get a clean sponge or mop and dunk it in the water.

Go over the floor or wall with the mop or use a sponge on a countertop to remove any soapy residue.

 Dump the water and rinse the bucket. Fill it up with clean water again. Use the mop or sponge to rinse the slate-surface again. Repeat this process a total of three to four times to make sure you’ve removed all of the soap from the slate-surface.


Make sure you follow a routine care and maintenance schedule to keep you slate looking its best.

Make sure the tiles are completely dry before applying a new stone sealer to the walls, countertops or floors.

Do not let the slate become too wet when washing and rinsing it because the water can seep in between tiles or along the seams and weaken the adhesive that was used to hold the slate in place.

Using a penetrating sealer provides a high level of protection and requires stripping less often than a wax sealer which sits on top of the slate.