With a gentle hand and a few smart cleaning techniques, you can keep your tile floors looking good for a long time. Learn how to clean tile floors, how to clean tile grout, what cleaning tools and products to use, and how often your floors should be cleaned.
If you haven’t scrubbed the floors in your kitchen or bathroom, you aren’t completely clean. However, it is important to check your tile floors for scratches or stains when you wipe down the countertops.
Hazy film or dirty grout are both signs that your floors need more than a cursory sweep. If you want to clean your tile floors, make sure you use the right technique for your type of tile since the recommended cleaners and mops may differ. No matter what material your tile floors are made of, these are the best ways to clean them.
How to Clean Tile Floors of All Types
You wouldn’t clean a stainless-steel refrigerator with a cleaner designed for an enamel surface. Your tile follows the same principle. Tile floors are incredibly durable, but certain types need special care. Floor tiles such as ceramics and porcelain are relatively low maintenance, whereas coarse tiles such as slate, marble, granite, or limestone require individualized care and often special cleaners.
How to Clean Ceramic and Porcelain Tile Floors
Ceramic and porcelain tiles are extremely durable, and a few simple cleaning tips can keep them looking beautiful. To clean ceramic and porcelain tiles, follow these simple steps:
- Sweep or vacuum your tile floors regularly to prevent them from becoming dull. Tiles may be resistant to dirt, but sand and grit can dull the glazed surfaces.
- You should use a rag or chamois-type mop so as not to damage the tile, and clean tile with mild detergent and water. The best mops for cleaning tiles are those that push dirty water into the grout lines to make them harder to clean. When mopping, make sure you change the water frequently since dirty water results in a cloudy floor.
- Watch out for stains on tile: If you discover a discoloration, determine what type of substance caused it. You should use the right cleaner for the stain in order to get the best results.
- Observe for soap residue: If your tiles still look hazy after cleaning, you might be dealing with soapy residue. Using an all-purpose cleaner that is non abrasive, remove the film. On ceramic or porcelain tiles (but not on stone tiles), you can also use a homemade cleaner with mild acid (like fresh lemon juice).
- Don’t let your glazed tile floors air-dry since the sitting water can form water spots. Clean, lint-free cloths should be used to dry the floors after they have been washed.
How to Clean Stone Tile Floors
Be careful when you’re working with natural stone tile like slate, granite or marble. Chemicals in traditional cleaners can damage the surface of these materials. Instead, clean your stone tiles with cleaners made specifically for natural stone.
- As long as the detergent does not contain acidic properties, such as lemons or vinegar, you can use it on slate tiles. The easiest way to avoid water spots on slate tiles is to towel dry them as soon as possible.
- Despite its beauty, marble can be difficult to maintain. Any products with an acidic PH level should not be used to clean marble tile. Tiles should not be cleaned with lemon or vinegar since they can etch the surface. Don’t use anything that will scratch the marble, such as bristled brushes or scouring powders.
- The same detergent can be used to clean granite tile as you can slate or marble tiles. If you use a harsh cleaner, you risk leaving streaks discoloration on the tile. You also may want to buff a polished granite floor to keep it looking shiny and clean.
How to Clean Resilient Tile Floors
Rubber, vinyl, cork, and linoleum are some materials that are used to create resilient tiles. The tiles are easy to clean and maintain and are easy on the feet. You should follow these tips when cleaning resilient tiles:
- Besides being extremely durable, vinyl tiles are also very easy to care for. Using a vinyl cleaning solution or vinegar and water, sweep or vacuum debris up. Scrubbing tools and abrasive cleaners are not advised on vinyl since they can scratch the surface.
- Even though vinyl flooring and linoleum tile are often confused, the two floor coverings are very different and require different types of cleaning. After sweeping or vacuuming, clean the linoleum tiles with linoleum flooring cleaning solution or a solution of borax and water. Let the floor dry after rinsing. Maintain your linoleum floors by applying wax or liquid wax every three to six months and buffing until they’re shiny.
- Cleaning cork tiles will depend on how they are finished. Water and mild detergent, as well as vinegar or white vinegar, can be used for cleaning cork floors sealed with polyurethane (most cork floors are). When the tile is dry, apply solid or liquid wax if the cork is unfinished or waxed. If the tile is not finished or waxed, clean it as you would polyurethane.
Editor’s Tip: Never use a steam mop on any of these tile types. They are not designed to stand up to extreme heat or excess moisture.
How to Clean Tile Grout
It’s important to keep your grout clean to create a beautiful tile floor. The porous nature of grout makes it difficult to keep clean since grease and other stains soak into it. You can restore your grout to its original appearance by following these steps:
- Make your own grout cleaner: Instead of commercial cleaners, use baking soda and water.
- You can scrub grout by applying it to the stain and letting it sit overnight, then brushing it with a stiff nylon brush in the morning (a metal brush damages grout). You may need to repeat this step as needed.
- Grout should be sealed with silicone-based sealer in order to repel future stains. After installing or replacing the grout, the best time to do this is 10-14 days later.
If you want to deep clean the tile grout, you may want to consider using a steam cleaner. Others claim that scrubbing can permanently damage grout, though others say it’s a perfect way to refresh dingy tiles. If your floor is old or your grout is damaged in any way, steam could accelerate the damage and cause pitting and discoloration over time. Your risk of damage could also increase with frequent use.
How Often to Clean Tile Floors
Cleaning your tile with dry and wet methods both regularly will keep it looking clean and residue-free.
- You should dry clean every week or whenever debris is visible (or feels like it). It is possible to use a soft-bristle vacuum attachment on tile floors of any type, although it may be difficult to maneuver around corners. To finish the task, sweep and dust the floor with a hand broom.
- Plan to mop your kitchen tile floor every two weeks, and your bathroom tile floor once a week (bathrooms are a breeding ground for bacteria). Take the time to spot clean your grout once every few months or whenever it’s looking dingy.
Is Vinegar Effective for Cleaning Vinyl Floors?
Putting down floor mats at the entrances of your home will help stop dirt and debris from accumulating on your vinyl flooring. Washing the mats will remove particles, but they can damage the finish on your floor. Vinegar can’t fix a damaged finish.
You should sweep or vacuum your flooring to remove larger particles. When you mop or clean vinyl while it still contains abrasive dust, you can damage the finish.
Apple Cider Vinegar will work just as well, but even white vinegar will be fine. White vinegar is an effective disinfectant for floors after a cleaning. Cleaning and removing odors are easy with apple cider.
Add one cup of apple cider vinegar to one gallon of hot water. That’s all. Any messes will be digested by heat and acidity without leaving a residue.
Soft clothes and mop are ideal. Cleaning tools shouldn’t be abrasive in order to prevent damage to your floor. All the work is done by the acid, so using gentle tools is recommended.
After soaking your cleaning tool, gently squeeze out excess water. If you’re cleaning, don’t let any water pool up on your brush. Keep it just damp, without dripping. To prevent spreading grime, mop or rag your floors and rinse them frequently with hot, clean water.
For stubborn messes or vinyl that hasn’t been cleaned in a while, you can add a few drops of liquid dish soap vinegar in breaking down stubborn messes and grease. This step is especially important for dirty floors, as you’ll have to repeat the process with vinegar again to remove any residue.
If residue and buildup were left behind after vinyl was cleaned by something else, this step is helpful. By using the soap, you can reduce the time you spend cleaning compared to just vinegar. If there are still traces of vinegar left, go over it again with vinegar before you finish.
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