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Tile is beautiful, durable, and shrugs off stains with ease. It’s also super versatile, which makes it a go-to surface in spill-prone-zones like your kitchen and bathroom and high-trafficked areas like your entryway or living room.
If you want to bring out the beauty in your tile, you’ve got to clean the surface of the tile itself, and the clean the grout that holds the tile in place.
We’ll focus here on cleaning the surface of ceramic and porcelain tile. Good news, it’s pretty easy and straightforward.
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How to Clean Ceramic Tile
You might need:
Note: These directions outline the steps for cleaning tile flooring. If you’re interested in cleaning your tiled kitchen counter, or the tile in your shower, no problem. Just swap out a mop for a microfiber or cotton cloth and you’ll be good to go.
Step 1: Sweep
Use a soft bristle broom to sweep the tile floor. This helps get rid of dirt, debris, or any other particles that might mar the tile surface or get ground up and absorbed by the grout. You can also vacuum the tile, if you have a soft-bristled vacuum attachment or a vacuum designed for hard floors.
Step 2: Pick a cleaning product
You can go one of two routes:
Mix a homemade solution: Fill a bucket with a gallon of hot water and mix in half a cup of white vinegar. This solution is easy and gentle, yet powerful enough to cut through the dirt and grime.
Buy a store-bought cleaner: Store-bought products tend to have relatively harsh chemicals, but products like Black Diamond Marble & Tile Floor Cleaner are bio-degradable, kid and pet friendly, and super effective. Some store bought products are ready to go, right out of the bottle. Others require you to mix with water. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.
Step 3: Mop
When you mop tile floors, you want the mop to be damp, not wet. Dip a microfiber or string mop into the cleaning solution and then wring out any excess moisture. Start mopping in one corner and work your way throughout the room.
Pro tip: Avoid sponge mops as they just force dirt and other debris into the grout.
Pro tip: Change the cleaning solution every 10’ x 10’ area. It might feel labor intensive, but if you mop with dirty cleaner, it’s going to leave a thin, filmy layer of gunk on your floor. If the cleaning solution gets too cloudy or dirty, dump it out and mix up a fresh batch.
Let the tile air dry, or if you’re in a hurry, you can use a microfiber cloth or a clean towel to dry the floor.
How to Clean Porcelain Tile
Step 1: Sweep or vacuum
Start by sweeping or vacuuming the tiled area to get rid of any debris.
Step 2: Prep your cleaning solution
With porcelain, you’ll need to be a little more selective when it comes time to choosing a cleaning product. Here’s a quick primer:
Polished porcelain is shiny and sleek. Unpolished porcelain, (also known as natural or unglazed), has a smooth, matte finish. For both polished and unpolished, mix ¼ of white vinegar per every gallon of water, or go with a store-bought product like Black Diamond Marble & Tile Floor Cleaner.
Textured porcelain has a slightly rough finish. Avoid a vinegar solution and go with a neutral tile cleaner, like Frosch Natural pH Neutral Universal Cleaner instead.
Step 3: Mop
Focus on a 6’x6’ section of flooring and douse the area with a generous amount of cleaner. Let the cleaner soak for at least ten minutes — but be careful not to let the cleaning solution dry.
Mop the tile with a microfiber or string mop. Scrub any stains using a soft-bristle brush.
Step 4: Rinse and dry
Wipe up any lingering cleaning solution and thoroughly rinse the area with warm water. Dry the tile with a microfiber cloth or a cotton towel.
Getting Rid of Stains
In most cases, the vinegar solution and cleaning products described earlier will provide plenty of cleaning power. But here are a few common stains you might come across, and recommended remedies to get them cleaned up.
Pro tip: Avoid cleaners containing acid or bleach, or any wax- or oil-based cleaners. Test all cleaning products in a discreet area first, just to make sure it works as expected.
Blood: Dab a cotton cloth in hydrogen peroxide or bleach mixed with water.
Chewing gum: Place ice cubes on the cub until it hardens, then scrape it off with an old credit card. Remove any residue with a non-flammable paint thinner.
Coffee and tea: Mix hot water with laundry detergent and blot with a cotton or microfiber cloth.
Mystery stains: Maybe you just moved into a new apartment and there are a few mystery stains on the tile flooring. It’s gross, yes, but don’t freak out. Mix your favorite powdered laundry detergent with water until it makes a thick paste. Apply it to the stain and scrub with a soft bristle brush.
Step 1: Sweep the tile floors to get rid of any dirt or debris.
Step 2: Mix your cleaning product of choice in a bucket.
Step 3: Mop the tile flooring with a microfiber or strip mop.
Step 4: Air dry.