January 30, 2023, by: Rob Parsell
One of the top reasons for installing tile floors is ease of cleaning. Conventional ceramic or porcelain tile, vinyl tile or plank, natural stone or cork…all these floors have the benefits of being durable and easy to clean…hassle free flooring if you will. But what is the best way to clean tile floors to keep them looking new and without taking up too much of your time?
Every tile floor needs a regular once-over to restore its gleam and keep it shiny. In this Home Flooring Pros guide you’ll learn how to clean tile flooring, keep your grout clean and how to map out a cleaning routine to ensure you spend minimum time cleaning and maximum time enjoying your home.
We get started with tile cleaning tips that apply to all kinds of common flooring tiles. From there, you’ll find tips on how to clean tile of specific types.
HOW TO CLEAN ANY TILE FLOOR
Tile floors are durable and easy to clean, but sand and grit will dull their surfaces. Ceramic and porcelain tile floors are low maintenance; all types of tile floors benefit from cleaning. Read more about porcelain vs ceramic tile.
Coarser tiles like granite, slate, marble or limestone may need specific cleaning methods and/or cleaners. Proper maintenance will keep your tile floor looking great for many years. Read more on how to clean marble floors.
TOOLS, SUPPLIES & COSTS FOR CLEANING TILE
Stocking your broom closet with several tile cleaner options will allow you to apply the right one for each cleanup task.
- Broom or hardwood floor vacuum: $8-$100+. A vacuum designed for hardwood flooring is safe for tile too.
- Floor mop: $15 – $60. Pro Tip: Avoid sponge mops, they push dirty water into grout lines. A spin mop is a good option.
- 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
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.
- Clean tile with the mop using detergent and water. The mop should be damp, not sloppy wet. Change the water when it appears cloudy.
- Watch for tile stains; determine what stains 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.
Pro Tip: Save your knees; use your feet to slide the drying cloth over the floor.
HOW TO CLEAN STONE TILE FLOORS
Here are key tile cleaning tips for specific materials. These do’s and don’ts can save your flooring’s from an untimely loss of luster!
Slate Tile: Sweep or vacuum. Use mild detergent on slate tile, being sure it does NOT contain acidic elements like vinegar or lemon juice. Dry right away with a cloth.
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.
Granite Tile: Sweep or vacuum. Use 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 THE CLEAN LINOLEUM, VONYL, CORK AND RUBBER TILE FLOORS
These flooring types are affordable alternatives and ideal for areas where water is an issue and you want slip-resistant flooring.
Vinyl Tile: 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 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.
HOW 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.
Tools and Supplies
Commercial grout cleaner OR use a Do It Yourself paste of baking soda and water
Stiff nylon brush
Grout sealer (silicone-based): $7-$15
- 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.
For a more in-depth guide on the best way to clean grout check out our Home Flooring Pros grout cleaning guide.
HOW TO 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.
WHEN TO CLEAN 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.”