Easy Tile Cleaning To Save you Time
One of the top reasons for installing tile floors is ease of cleaning. All types of tile, whether conventional ceramic or porcelain tile, vinyl tile or plank, natural stone or cork, have the benefits of being durable and easy to clean…hassle free flooring if you will.
However, clean them you must…every type of tile floor needs a regular once-over to restore its gleam and keep it shiny. Otherwise the quick build up of dirt and grease, especially in your kitchen and bathroom, can lead to a room that looks very unattractive and, over time, irreparable damage to your tiles and grout..
Last Updated: August 7, 2023, by: Rob Parsell
So, what is the best way to clean tile floors and keep them looking new, but without taking up too much of your time? In this tile cleaning guide the Home Flooring Pros will show you how to clean every type of tile flooring, keep your grout clean and help you plan a cleaning routine that ensures you spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying your home.
We get started with a weekly one and done tile cleaning technique that applies to all kinds of common flooring tiles, including ceramic, porcelain, terrazzo, travertine and cement tile. From there, you’ll find tips on how to clean other specific tile types and materials.
CLEANING TILE FLOORS – TOOLS, SUPPLIES & COSTS FOR CLEANING TILE
In order to clean your tile flooring quickly and efficiently you’re going to need certain tools and supplies on stand by. Below is the Home Flooring Pros list of essential cleaning products and tools that you should invest in.
We also mention specific cleaning products you might need for specific flooring. Coarser tiles like granite, slate, marble or limestone may need specific cleaning methods and/or cleaners. Proper maintenance of specific tile types will keep your tile floor looking great for many years.
Stocking your broom closet with several tile cleaning options will allow you to apply the right one for each cleanup task. You’ll need most of the following:
- Broom or hardwood floor vacuum: $8-$100+. A vacuum designed for hardwood flooring is safe for tile too.
- Floor mop and bucket: $15 – $60.
Pro Tip: Avoid sponge mops, they push dirty water into grout lines. A spin mop is a good option or a high quality microfiber mop or microfiber cloth is great and can also be used for cleaning hardwood floors.
- Mild detergent or white vinegar: $3-$10
- Stain-specific cleaner as needed: $5-$15
- All-purpose cleaner: $8-$20 depending on quantity.
- Drying cloth: Old t-shirts and towels are ideal.
- Linoleum cleaner: $8-$15
- Wax or liquid wax, for vinyl and cork tile: $6-$12
- Cleaning gloves
Read the review of our top pick for the best tile cleaning machine this year.
STEP BY STEP CLEANING FOR CERAMIC AND PORCELAIN TILE FLOORING
This is how neatniks keep ‘em clean. Note steps 4 & 5, for example. Not everyone bothers with them, but boy they make a difference!
Note: these steps work equally well for cement tile, terrazzo tile and travertine tile floors:
- Sweep or vacuum the floor to get rid of loose dirt.
- Clean tile with the mop using detergent and warm water. The mop should be damp, not sloppy wet. Change the water when it appears cloudy.
- Watch for tile stains; determine what’s staining the tile; use the appropriate stain cleaner.
- Remove soap residue with all-purpose cleaner or a solution of water and white vinegar in a ratio of about 10 to 1.
- Dry the tile to avoid water spots.
Why Warm Water? Because you’re going to be using a detergent your water doesn’t need to be too hot (to kill bacteria). Warmer water works better at emulsifying dirt and grease which is why we prefer warm water to cold.
Pro Tip: Save your knees; use your feet to slide the drying cloth over the floor.
HOW TO CLEAN NATURAL STONE TILE FLOORS
Here are key tile cleaning tips for specific stone flooring materials. These do’s and don’ts can save your floors from an untimely loss of luster!
Slate Tile: Sweep or vacuum. Use mild detergent or ph-neutral cleaner on slate tile, being sure it does NOT contain acidic elements like vinegar or lemon juice. Dry right away with a cloth. Read more about kitchen slate flooring maintenance.
Marble Tile: Sweep or vacuum. Use mild detergent. As with slate tile, do NOT use acidic cleaners on marble tile as they may etch the surface. Avoid hard brushes or scouring powders. Read more on how to clean marble floors.
Granite Tile: Sweep or vacuum. Use ph-neutral mild detergent. Also acid-sensitive, harsh cleaners can leave streaks or discoloration on granite.
Pro tip: Buff granite tile floors for a great shine. This is next-level tile floor care, but how good do you want them to look?
HOW TO CLEAN OTHER TYPES OF TILE LIKE LINOLEUM, VINYL, CORK AND RUBBER
These flooring types are affordable alternatives to traditional tile and ideal for areas where water is an issue and you want slip-resistant flooring.
Vinyl Tile Floors: Sweep and vacuum; use mild detergent. Abrasive cleaners or scrubbing tools may scratch vinyl.
Linoleum Tile: Sweep and vacuum; wash linoleum with linoleum flooring cleaning solution. Molly Maid recommends an optional homemade formula of one gallon of hot water, one cup of vinegar, and a few drops of dish soap.
Then you’ll want to rinse with clean water or water and white vinegar. Let floor dry. Apply linoleum wax and buff to a shine every six months.
Pro tip: Vinyl and linoleum are different materials; be sure to use a linoleum flooring cleaning solution.
Cork Tile: If sealed with polyurethane, sweep and vacuum; use mild detergent. If unsealed or waxed, sweep and vacuum, and use mild detergent; apply solid or liquid wax when tile is dry.
Pro tips: Remember to use a vacuum that does not have a beater bar. And never use a steam mop on these tiles, they are not designed to withstand high heat or moisture.
DON’T FORGET TO CLEAN TILE GROUT
Grout is porous, and easily absorbs dirt, grease, and other undesired materials. Those grout lines will need TLC to stay nice and bright. Some cleaning sites recommend a bleach solution for grout cleaning, but we’ve had mixed results with that approach and prefer the following solution…
Tools and Supplies
- Commercial grout cleaner OR use a Do It Yourself paste of baking soda and water
- Stiff nylon brush (or a stiff toothbrush at a push)
- Grout sealer (silicone-based): $7-$15
Step by Step Technique for Cleaning Grout
- Rub cleaner on grout, let sit overnight.
- Scrub grout the next day with the nylon brush (metal brush will cause damage). Repeat as necessary.
- Sweep or vacuum, then wash floor appropriately (see above.)
- Seal grout (for best results, seal grout about two weeks after installation or cleaning.)
Pro tip: Steam cleaners may damage grout, especially if it is older or damaged. Steam cleaning could cause or accelerate pitting and discoloration of grout.
Be sure to take a look at our more in-depth guide on the best way to clean grout.
CAN YOU CLEAN STAINED FLOORING TILES?
It’s definitely worth a shot before you think about grout or tile replacement.
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Club soda
Coffee, tea or juice: Wash tile with hot water and mild detergent, blot with hydrogen peroxide. Repeat as necessary.
Grease: Wash tile with club soda and water, or a commercial floor cleaner.
Ink: Soak a towel in diluted bleach and lay it on the stain; leave the cloth on the stain until the stain is gone. Rinse thoroughly.
A SMART ROUTINE FOR CLEANING TILE FLOORS
Getting into a routine is more motivating than an “as needed” approach and will definitely preserve the appearance of your floors.
- Sweep or Broom: Sweep or vacuum once a week, or when debris can be seen or felt. Soft-bristle vacuum attachments may not fit into corners; have a hand broom and dustpan available.
- Wet Clean: Mop the tile floor in your kitchen once every two weeks, and bathroom tile once a week.
- Grout: Spot clean grout when stains occur. Clean all of it every six months or when it looks dingy.
Pro tip: Wear protective gloves when using tile flooring cleaning products.
Do you have a tile cleaning tip you’d like to share? Please add it in the comments below.
About the Author:
Rob joined the Home Flooring Pros team in 2014 and is a freelance writer, specializing in flooring, remodeling and HVAC systems (read more).
“I’m the son of an interior designer and picked up an eye for design as a result. I started hanging wallpaper and painting at 14 and learned enough on the job to be the general contractor on two homes we built for our family and did much of the finish plumbing, electrical, painting, and trim work myself.”