How to Clean and Maintain Your Tile

Mopping tile floor

Choosing and installing the perfect tile is one thing, but maintaining that tile to look brand-new, even years after installation, is another project altogether. Today, we’ll discuss how to clean and maintain different types of tile.

Ceramic Tile

Antique White Skinny Herringbone Ceramic Mosaic Tile

Ceramic tile is very easy to maintain. For the most part, all you need to do is clean it regularly! As with all tile, you may need to replace your grout every eight to 16 years (sealing it regularly can help you extend this period), but in general, ceramic is extremely low-maintenance.

Glazed Ceramic Tile

For regular cleaning, start by sweeping, vacuuming, or dust-mopping the floor. Next, use an all-purpose household cleaner and a cloth, sponge, or mop to clean your ceramic flooring.  

For wall tile, you can use a multipurpose spray cleaner to eliminate any mildew, soap scum, and hard water deposits. Rinse with clean water and dry the tile to finish.

Unglazed Ceramic Tile

Sweep, vacuum, or dust mop to remove any dirt and debris. Next, clean your tile regularly using a concentrated tile cleaner with a neutral pH. Be sure to choose a product that can be used on grout.

What to Avoid

Try to stay away from products that contain lots of VOCs and harsh chemicals. Acids and ammonia should also be avoided, as they can damage your tile’s surface and grout.

Porcelain Tile

Fortaleza Black Marquina 48x48 Porcelain Tile

Porcelain is very similar to ceramic in that it usually requires very little upkeep and is easy to clean. Unglazed porcelain will need a bit more attention, but most of the porcelain tile you’ll come across these days is glazed.

Glazed Porcelain Tile

Vacuum, sweep, or mop on a regular basis. You can use most natural and chemical cleaning products on glazed porcelain tile, but be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you’ve noticed any stains on your tile, mix one part vinegar and one part water to create a solution that will remove them. 

Any time spills occur, wipe them up as soon as possible to avoid staining.

For deep cleaning, you can mix: 

  • 1 gallon of warm water
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • A few drops of any essential oil (optional)

Use this mixture to thoroughly mop the floor before rinsing it with clean water. To go a step further, sprinkle baking soda on the tile before mopping again with the vinegar and water mixture. Remove any residue by flushing the floor with clean water.

If you’re working with a large space, doing this section by section and allowing each part of the floor to dry before moving on can be helpful.

Unglazed Porcelain Tile

Vacuum, sweep, or mop regularly.

If spills occur, clean them immediately to prevent stains.

Seal your tile yearly with an acrylic stone sealer. Start by thoroughly cleaning your floor. Next, mix three gallons of water with one cup of sealer before applying it to the tile’s surface.

You can use one gallon of warm water mixed with a few drops of dish soap to mop, or you can use warm water on its own. Avoid saturating the unglazed porcelain tile, and be sure to dry it after mopping using a clean microfiber cloth, towel, or sponge.

What to Avoid

Never use steel wool, a hard-bristle brush, or other abrasive tools to clean your porcelain tile floor.

Look out for extremely abrasive chemicals. Most cleaning products won’t negatively affect porcelain, but always check the label to be sure. Ammonia and bleach may affect your tile’s color.

Avoid cleaning unglazed porcelain with colored products.

Always ensure you have plenty of ventilation when cleaning.

Glass Tile

York Blue Mist 3x6 Glass Tile

Glass tile is indisputably beautiful, but it’s prone to picking up fingerprints and water spots that can mar its perfectly shiny appearance. 

You can purchase glass cleaner or make it yourself from various household ingredients.

One easy recipe for glass cleaner requires:

  • 1 cup of water
  • ¼ cup distilled vinegar
  • A few drops of dish soap
  • A few drops of any essential oil (optional, but adds a fresh scent)

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle, and you’re all set. After spraying the cleaner, use a dry microfiber cloth to buff the tiles.

Over time, you may notice hard water spots or chalky residue on your glass tile. To remove these, spray cleaner onto them and let it sit for up to 15 minutes before buffing with a microfiber cloth.

Natural Stone Tile

Statuario White 12x24 Marble Field Tile

Of the four types of tile discussed in this blog post, natural stone is the most high-maintenance.

How to Evaluate Your Tile’s Condition

An important part of maintaining natural stone is taking a good look at your tile and evaluating its condition so you can determine what type of maintenance it needs. 

Consider whether your natural stone tile has a honed (matte) or polished (shiny) finish. If the finish has changed over time, restoring your floor before sealing it will give you the best results.

Determine what material or coating your tile is sealed with. You’ll want to choose cleaning products that are compatible with that particular material.

Next, use the water drop test to figure out whether your tile’s coating is still in good condition, or if it must be removed and replaced. Drop a tablespoon of water onto the tile in a high-traffic area and wait 15 minutes. Did your tile absorb the water? Did its color become darker? If so, it’s time to reseal your stone.

Finally, check for cracks in the tile. Extreme cracks can mean you need to replace the affected tiles. Non-extreme cracks can be filled and may not require replacement.

The Importance of Sealing

It’s crucial to seal natural stone tile. You can use either a topical sealer or a penetrating sealer, which goes below the stone’s surface to form a barrier against oil and water. In general, you’ll need to reseal your tile every few years.

How to Clean Natural Stone

In order to choose the right cleaning products for your natural stone tile, you’ll need to know exactly what type of stone you have.

A concentrated, pH-neutral cleaning solution will work for the majority of stone types and sealers. Apply the solution to the surface of the stone, allow it to sit for the time recommended by the manufacturer, gently scrub with a sponge or soft brush, and remove the solution with a clean sponge before buffing the tile dry.

You’ll also want to dust and mop your natural stone floor frequently in order to prevent scratches and stains.

Steer clear of any cleaning tools or solutions that contain colors or dyes that could potentially stain your tile floor. Acid-based cleaners, even homemade ones containing vinegar and lemon juice, should never be used on natural stone as they’re likely to cause damage.

Removing Efflorescence

Powdery white stains can be a sign of efflorescence, or crystalline salt deposits. Unfortunately, your first move may be to use water to scrub away the efflorescence, which can make it worse. It’s better to use a nylon scraper to remove it, then mop or vacuum any remaining debris. If you notice this problem recurring, you may have a moisture issue that needs to be addressed by a professional.

Find the Perfect Tile for Your Home Improvement Project at!

Whether you love the look of natural stone or prefer the easy upkeep of porcelain, is sure to have the tile you’re looking for. Our vast selection includes tiles in every shape, size, color, pattern, and material. Plus, each order comes with fast delivery, insured shipments, and easy returns to make buying tile online as simple as possible. Check out our product range here, or visit our blog for more informational articles and interior design inspiration.

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