How to Clean Tile Floors

Take care of your ceramic tile floors with a gentle hand and a few smart cleaning techniques, which will keep your tiles and grout looking like new.

Your kitchen is never fully cleaned until you've scrubbed the floors. While you don't have to tackle this chore every time you wipe down the countertop, it's important to keep an eye on your tile floors for signs of dirt or grime. A hazy film or dirty grout are both indicators that it's time to do more than sweeping. We'll show you the best ways to clean tile floors no matter the surface or stain.

Related: Kitchen Cleaning Checklist

Tile Floor Cleaning Basics

Sweep or vacuum your glazed tile floors regularly to keep them from getting dull. Tiles may be resistant to dirt, but sand and grit can dull glazed surfaces. Clean tile with mild detergent and clean water, using a rag or chamois-type mop rather than a sponge mop. The latter pushes dirty water into grout lines and makes them harder to clean. Be sure to change the water frequently while mopping; dirty water equals a cloudy floor. Don't let your glazed tile floors air dry either—the sitting water will form water spots. Take care of that by drying the floor with a clean cloth immediately after washing.

Related: How to Tackle a Stain on Tile


Get Rid of Residue

If your tiles look hazy, you might be dealing with soapy residue. Remove the film with a nonabrasive all-purpose cleaner. You could also try a homemade cleaner with mild acid—such as fresh lemon juice—on ceramic tiles (but never on marble or stone). Rinse thoroughly with clean water, and buff dry with a clean lint-free cloth. Be kind to your knees and dry tiles the easy way: by using your foot to slide the cloth over the floor.

How to Clean Grout

The real secret to a great-looking tile floor is clean grout. Grout is porous and absorbs grease and other stains. Skip commercial cleaners and instead make a paste of baking soda and water. Rub it on the stain, let it sit overnight, then scrub the stain in the morning with a stiff nylon brush (a metal brush will damage the grout). Repeat as necessary. Apply a silicone-based sealer to the grout to repel future stains—this works best when done 10-14 days after the grout is installed or renewed. 

Related: Get FREE customized cleaning tips, designed to help you clean your way

How to Clean Every Type of Tile

You wouldn't wash a stainless-steel refrigerator with a cleaner meant for an enamel surface. The same goes for your tile. While tile floors are incredibly durable, certain kinds of tile need to be cared for in a special way. Learn how to clean ceramic, slate, marble, and granite tile.

Ceramic Tile: Ceramic and glazed tiles don't require special care. To clean, sweep or vacuum the floor to remove loose dirt and grime. When that's taken care of, wash the floors with a mild detergent and warm water. A soft cloth or chamois-type mop works better than a sponge mop, which can push the dirt further into the grout lines. Remember to change the water often or whenever it looks dirty. Buff dry with a cloth when you're done. 

Slate Tile: Be careful when you're working with natural stone tile like slate; chemicals in traditional cleaners can damage the surface. Instead, clean your slate tiles with a stone cleaner. You may also use a mild detergent as well, as long as it doesn't contain acidic properties such as lemon or vinegar. If your slate tile is coated, avoid water spots by drying the tile right away with a soft towel. 

Marble Tile: Marble makes stunning tile, but it's also high-maintenance. Avoid cleaning marble tile with anything that has an acidic PH level. Cleaners with lemon or vinegar should be avoided, as they can etch the surface of the tile. Also stay away from anything that may scratch the marble, such as brushes with tough bristles or scouring powders. 

Granite Tile:  Like slate and marble tile, granite tile needs to be cleaned with a mild detergent that is pH-neutral. A harsh cleaner risks leaving streaks or discoloration on the tile. You also may want to buff a polished granite floor to keep it looking shiny and clean.

Clean the tile in your home by following these simple steps.

1 Comment

  1. How do I clean my white, very slick tiles. I use vinegar but if I walk bare foot on the floor, it leaves prints.

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