How to Clean Tile Floors: Efforlessly Sparkling Results

By thewriteDuffy •  Updated: 04/08/24 •  11 min read

Tile floors have been a popular choice for homeowners for thousands of years due to their beauty, durability, and competitive pricing.

Tile floors are also great because of how easy they are to keep clean. As long as you follow some best practices, you can keep your tile floors looking clean and new for decades.

In this article, I cover how to clean tile floors, including the best tile floor cleaner for each type and some additional tips for cleaning grout and removing tough stains, so let’s dive in.

Weekly Maintenance

No matter what tile you have, one of the most important steps to have clean tile floors is weekly maintenance. Perform the following regularly to make keeping your tile floors clean a breeze:

  1. Sweep with a soft bristle broom to remove dirt or vacuum with a brush attachment to remove dirt, hair, and dust particles. This thorough sweep and vacuum should also be done immediately before mopping the tile floor.
  2. Wipe up spills and wet spots with a cleaning cloth as soon as possible, as wet, grimy dirt becomes more difficult to remove the longer it sits on the tile.

UPDATED TIP: As with everything in our lives, technology is busy improving this tedious household task as well. I recently purchased a BISSELL CrossWave Floor and Area Rug Cleaner that I am absolutely in love with for both my tile and laminate floors. You can read my full review here if you would also like to cut your floor cleaning time in half!

Identifying Your Tile Type

Tile flooring is usually ceramic or porcelain, and you’ll want to know which tile you’re dealing with before you choose the best tile floor cleaner. Here are some ways to identify whether you have ceramic or porcelain flooring:

  1. Porcelain tile is often used in bathrooms and kitchens because of its beauty, smooth finish, and water resistance. The surface of porcelain feels smooth and will often have a sheen from the final glaze.
  2. Ceramic tile may be used in bathrooms, but it is better suited to dry areas because it is more porous than porcelain. You’ll typically find ceramic tile floors in entryways and other high-traffic areas. The finish on ceramic tile is bumpy or coarse to the touch.
  3. You can also identify tile by finding a chip or deep scratch. Porcelain is solid all the way through, so the color beneath the damage will match the surface. If the colors vary, you have ceramic tiles. Now that you’ve identified the type of tile, it’s time to learn how to clean tile floors and make them shine.

How to Clean Ceramic Tile Floors

Ceramic tile floors are beautiful and durable, but they still require proper care and cleaning.

Here’s how to keep them looking clean and new all the time:

  1. Sweep or vacuum your tile floors a couple of times a week. Sand and grit can scratch the surface of your tile making it look dull over time, so keeping it free of debris as much as possible will help keep it looking new.
  2. After you’ve removed the dirt, you’re ready to mop. Mix a mild all-purpose cleaner (my personal favorite is Bona Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner) with hot water and apply with a rag or chamois mop instead of a sponge mop. A sponge mop pushes dirty water into the grout and soils it.
  3. If you do end up with a hazy film on your tile floor, change the bucket of cleaning solution and re-mop the area as it is likely from a dirty mop leaving a cloudy film of dirt on the floor. As an alternative can also make your own rinse by mixing lemon juice or vinegar with hot water (about a 1/4 cup per 4 liters) and using that to rinse the haze clear. Apply it to the floor and then buff dry with a clean cloth. You can use a towel that you push over the floor with your foot.

How to Clean Porcelain Tile Floors

Porcelain tile floors are ideal for traditional and contemporary bathrooms and kitchens, and they’re durable enough to withstand years of water, dirt, and grease. Porcelain tile is tougher than ceramic tile, so you can put some muscle behind your cleaning when you need to tackle grease and grime.

Unpolished Porcelain Tile:

  1. For unpolished or unglazed porcelain tile floors, use a soft bristle brush and scrub a mixture of vinegar and warm water. Allow the floor to stay wet for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Then rinse with hot water and wipe dry with a clean towel or microfiber cloth.

Polished Porcelain Tile:

  1. For polished or glazed porcelain tile, wipe with hot water and scrub stains with a bristle brush.
  2. Wash with commercial tile cleaner like Bona Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner diluted to half strength.
  3. Wash one more time with hot water to rinse off the cleaner, then dry with a clean towel.

PRO TIP: Avoid using bleach or ammonia on porcelain tile floors.

Give your porcelain floor a good buffing once in a while with a dry microfiber mop. These mops give you a one-two punch because they remove dust while they bring back a beautiful shine.

Cleaning Other Types of Tile Flooring: Natural Stone, Slate, Granite, Marble, or Travertine

Natural stone tile floors can require special care while following the same essential steps as above. Here are some important notes:

About That Grout

Knowing how to clean tile floors is a valuable skill, but you’ll never get the brilliant results you long for if you don’t do something about that grout. While ceramic and porcelain tiles come with a built-in protective barrier, grout is sealed when it’s installed, and that sealant can fail. Plan on resealing grout every year if you want to keep those lines looking as clean and sharp as your tile.

If your grout looks less than inspiring even after a good scrubbing, you may need to have it resealed. But first, you need to clean it. Grout is porous and often light-colored, so it’s not designed to withstand much dirt or moisture, which is where the sealant comes in. When grout sealant wears thin, dirt and germs find their way into the porous grout, turning it grey or even black.

To get down into the porous material and whiten the grout, use hydrogen peroxide right out of your medicine cabinet. Hydrogen peroxide is a safe all-natural stain remover, as well as an excellent grout renewer. You may have to use a stiff nylon brush to get down into the porous material, but it’s important to get the grout as clean as possible before you reseal it.

How to Clean Tile Grout on Floors

One of the most important things in knowing how to clean tile floors is keeping the grout clean. Dirty grout equals dingy-looking floors. When you

Grout is porous and easily absorbs dirt, grease, and other materials.

  1. Spray the grout with a commercially prepared grout cleaner like Soft Scrub Gel Cleanser with Bleach. You can also use a mild bleach solution. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when using these types of products.
  2. For deep stains, allow the cleaner to sit for 10 minutes. Use a toothbrush or other small scrub brush to scrub the grout.

Wash and dry one section of the floor at a time.

Pro Tip: Use this method on wood tile floors, which are made of ceramic or porcelain tile designed to resemble wood.

Preventative Measures for Tile Floors

Apart from regular cleaning, there are additional steps you can take to keep your tile floors looking their best and reduce the need for intensive cleaning:

  1. Use doormats at entrances: Place doormats or rugs at the entrance of your home to help catch dirt, sand, and other debris before it reaches your tile floors. Encourage family members and guests to wipe their shoes before entering.
  2. Implement a no-shoes policy: Consider adopting a no-shoes policy inside your home. This will help prevent dirt, grime, and potential scratches from being tracked onto your tile floors.
  3. Use protective pads on furniture legs: Place felt or rubber pads under the legs of your furniture to prevent scratches and damage to your tile floors, especially in high-traffic areas.
  4. Clean up spills immediately: Spills can cause stains and damage to your tile floors if not dealt with promptly. Keep a cleaning cloth handy to wipe up any spills as soon as they occur.

Removing Tough Tile and Grout Stains

For stubborn grout stains, mix a paste of baking soda and water. Apply it to the stain, let it sit overnight and then scrub with a nylon brush. Don’t use a metal brush as it can scratch the tile. Let the grout air dry, then apply a silicone-based grout sealer like Miracle Sealants 511 Impregnator to resist future stains and dirt.

Here’s how to clean ceramic tile that has been stained:

  1. For coffee, tea, or juice stains, wash the tile surface with hot water and detergent, then blot with hydrogen peroxide.
  2. For grease stains, wash with club soda and water or a commercial floor cleaner like Bona Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner.
  3. For ink stains, soak a cloth in diluted bleach and lay it on top of the stain. Leave the cloth until the stain is gone. Rinse thoroughly when done.

By following these guidelines and tips for cleaning your tile floors, you’ll be able to keep them looking their best for years to come. Regular maintenance and cleaning will not only prolong the life of your floors but also help maintain a clean and healthy living environment in your home.

Tile Floor Maintenance Schedule

Establishing a regular maintenance schedule for your tile floors will help keep them looking their best and extend their lifespan. Here is a suggested maintenance schedule to follow:

  1. Every Few Days: Quickly sweep or vacuum your tile floors to remove dust and debris. This will help prevent dirt from building up and causing stains.
  2. Weekly: Perform a more thorough sweeping and vacuuming, followed by mopping your tile floors with a suitable cleaner for your specific tile type.
  3. Monthly: Inspect your tile floors for any stains, chips, or cracks. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage.
  4. Annually: Assess the condition of your grout and reseal it if necessary. This will help maintain the appearance of your tile floors and protect the grout from stains and damage.

By following these guidelines, you will ensure that your tile floors remain in excellent condition and continue to look great for years to come. Regular cleaning and maintenance not only protect your investment in your floors but also contribute to a clean and healthy living environment in your home. With a little effort and attention, your tile floors will maintain their beauty and functionality for the long haul.

thewriteDuffy

At home, April is a mom, wife, and DIY darling. Among other home projects, she helped her husband Dan renovate their 1986 bungalow and is currently designing and decorating the 2023 custom home they are building themselves. Professionally, April is a writer, author, and online marketer with 15 years of experience writing for newspapers and magazines, building online authority websites, and publishing books.