Tile cleaning isn’t a chore we normally think about beyond sweeping and mopping up. But all that walking around leads to smudges, plus dirt accumulating in the grout lines. And a dirty tile floor can make a whole room look dirty, no matter how organised. Thankfully, tile floors are low-maintenance, but you can’t clean different tiles the same way.
Floor tiles can last you a lifetime – if you take care of them properly. For ceramic or porcelain tiles, use white vinegar and warm water plus a microfibre cloth. On the other hand, natural stone floors need mild detergents specifically for stone. Vinyl and linoleum also need designated cleaning solutions. Tile grout can be cleaned with simple bicarb soda and water. And in between deep cleaning, make sure you vacuum!
Need to get your floor sparkling? Here’s how to clean tiles – easy-peasy.
Light Cleaning For Tile Floors
There are two ways to maintain tile floors in between deep cleaning. A regular cleaning schedule of dry and wet cleaning will go a long way to making your tile floors look squeaky clean.
- ‘Dry cleaning’ floor tiles is simple – just sweep or vacuum your floor at least once a week. If you want to push it, you can wait until you see or feel grit under your feet. Make sure to use a soft-bristled attachment so you don’t scratch the tile underneath!
- ‘Wet cleaning’ involves mopping, which you should do about twice a month. (For your bathroom floor, though, clean once a week!)
You should also spot clean your tile grout if you see any grime or stains.
Cleaning Different Types Of Tiles
Different tiles need different cleaning methods depending on the material they’re made of. While a good sweep or some mopping will take care of surface dirt, you’ll also need to thoroughly clean a tile floor to make it gleam. Try to deep clean your tiles at least once a month.
How to clean ceramic tiles
Ceramic tiles are the most common kinds of tiles since they’re very durable and easy to maintain. Porcelain tiles are similar, and use the same cleaning method. To clean ceramic tiles (and in an eco-friendly way), follow these simple steps:
- Make sure you’ve cleaned up any grit and dirt on the floor beforehand. You don’t want to scratch or dull your tiles while you wipe.
- Mix half a cup of white vinegar with a litre of warm water. You can add a tablespoon of dish soap, but not too much or you’ll leave residue on your tiles!
- Choose a chamois or microfibre mop, and rinse it with hot water beforehand.
- Start tile cleaning – and change the cleaning solution frequently, or you’ll just swish dirty water over your tiles.
- If your tiles look hazy after you’ve finished, that’s the soapy residue. Use vinegar or lemon juice to remove the soap film.
- Dry your tiles afterwards with a clean microfibre cloth to prevent water spots from forming. This is especially important for bathroom tiles, where excess water can cause humidity and mould or mildew.
NOTE: You can also use lemon juice to clean ceramic tiles! Just mix some lemon juice and water in a spray bottle, and apply to the tiles like the vinegar tile cleaner.
How to clean stone tiles
Stone tiles need particular care since more traditional cleaners can damage the surface. It’s best to use a cleaning solution specifically for stone tiles – one that’s pH-neutral (so don’t use vinegar or lemon juice).
The best way to clean stone tiles is to first use a soft-bristled broom to sweep any debris away. Then take your cleaning solution and gently clean your tiles as per instructions. Finish by drying them up so no water seeps into the tile surface.
How to clean marble tiles
Some stones, like marble, can be cleaned with clean water and a microfibre or chamois mop. The thing to remember is not to scrub too hard, since you could scuff or chip the marble surface. Wipe dry afterwards.
If dirt has built up or is particularly stubborn, mix a solution of dish soap and water, and use a soft cloth to wipe at the marble tile. For stains, spray with water then cover with a bicarb soda paste. Use a damp cloth to gently wipe away.
How to clean ‘resilient’ tiles
Vinyl, linoleum, and rubber are called ‘resilient tiles’. These are all low-maintenance and affordable materials for your flooring. The one thing to note is not to use a steam cleaner on these types of tile – they’re not meant to withstand direct heat.
Vinyl tile can be swept then mopped with a vinyl tile cleaner, or a mix of warm water and vinegar. Linoleum tile should be cleaned with its specific tile cleaner, and should be waxed or buffed every 3–6 months.
How to clean terracotta tiles
Terracotta tiles have a picturesque look, but they’re very prone to stains and watermarks, as well as damp and mould. You can wash them with water and a soft mop, but don’t use too much or you’ll risk soaking through the tile. You can also scrub terracotta tiles with a soft brush, especially if your tiles are unsealed.
For stains on unsealed terracotta tiles, use an acid made for clay surfaces (such as muriatic acid). Sealed terracotta can be cleaned with some mild soap in water and a mop.
How To Clean Tile Grout
Once your tiles are clean, move onto the tile grout. This extra step will have your tile floors looking extra clean – dirty grout can make an otherwise tidy floor look unattractive. Grout is porous, which means it absorbs grease and grime fairly easily. Fortunately, it’s very straightforward to clean.
- Combine bicarb soda and clean water into a paste.
- Apply the cleaning mix along the grout lines and let it sit for a few hours (or even overnight for stubborn stains).
- Scrub your grout afterwards with a stiff nylon brush or old toothbrush. Never use a metal brush – that’ll damage the grout.
- Apply a silicone-based sealant afterwards to protect your grout.
How To Clean Kitchen Tiles
Just like your bathroom, your kitchen needs to be cleaned frequently for hygienic purposes. Dirt and food debris can build up, alongside grime from daily use.
To clean kitchen tiles, you’ll need to:
- Regularly sweep up any debris and dirt on the floor. This will also help lessen the effort needed when deep cleaning.
- Tackle any stains off your tile floors with equal parts bicarb soda, salt, and water. Let the cleaning solution sit about ten minutes before using a soft-bristled brush to scrub.
- Start mopping using a mixture of 3 parts warm water to 1 part white vinegar. You can squeeze a lemon in to help cut the scent.
- Clean your grout before you start on the flooring. Mix warm water with bicarb soda and apply to the grout. Take a soft-bristled brush to scrub at the cracks.
- Spray the grout with more water to rinse.
- Use a second, dry mop over your tiles to finish the job.
Maintaining Tile Floors
Sweep or vacuum once a week, and mop at least twice a month. Bathroom tiles should be deep cleaned once a week, too. It’s important to regularly clean tile floors, since it helps maintain their longevity. If all that cleaning feels like too much, you can always go with a home cleaning service to take care of it for you!
Don’t use an abrasive sponge to clean tile, since this could lead to scratches or smudges. Put felt gliders and other stoppers under furniture to prevent scuffing. This will help you maintain the appearance of your tile floors.
To minimise the risk of surface damage from grit and dust, have door mats for home entrances! Or change shoes once you enter the house so you don’t track dirt onto your floor tiles.
Keep a few spares
Sometimes your tiles are scratched or damaged beyond what a good scrub down can clean. Or perhaps you cracked one by accident. Keeping some spares on hand will help with repairs, in case of any unforeseen damage. Now that you know how to clean tiles, though, maintaining them should be simple – and you can enjoy a nice, shiny floor every day… until you need to clean again!