How to Clean Ceramic Tile Floors
Ceramic tile flooring can be tough to clean. If you use the wrong cleaner, the dirt may become more ingrained in the surface of your tiling, making it harder to remove. However, following some best practices will ensure that your tiles will be easy to clean and maintain for years to come.
Cleaning Your Ceramic Tile Floors
The first step is always preparation; if you don’t move furniture, then everything on it needs to go into storage before you begin mopping or sweeping.
Before you do anything else, sweep or vacuum the tiles to remove any loose dirt and debris. This will prevent it from falling deeper into the tiles, making it more challenging to clean later.
After you’ve removed as much loose dirt as possible, mop the floor with a safe cleaner for tiled floors, such as vinegar and water mixture (two cups of white vinegar mixed with one gallon of water). If you use soap, be sure that it’s designed for use in high-moisture areas like kitchens and bathrooms. Read the label carefully to make sure that this is recommended for tile surfaces before using it on your floors. If you’re not sure if your cleaner is suitable for use on tiled surfaces, test it first on an inconspicuous area.
You should also clean the grout lines to ensure that they don’t become soiled and stained. Use grout whitening products or a paste made of baking soda and water. Once the tiles are dry, apply a sealant designed for use on stone or ceramic tile floors to keep them protected against staining and damage.
You’ll need a bucket filled with warm water, dish soap, and an all-purpose floor cleaner such as Basic-H20. Mix your cleaning solution thoroughly before you begin mopping.
Once your tile is clean, it’s important to keep your flooring looking its best by sealing the grout lines every few years. A good sealer will make dirt much easier to remove, plus it helps prevent staining and water damage. If you have heavy grime or grease buildup, strip the old finish off first using a steam cleaner with a scrub brush attachment. Steam cleaners can also be used for regular cleaning between sealant jobs.
When stains are caused by metal salts in hard water, they are often impossible to remove unless you wash them out immediately after they occur. Using distilled water may help reduce these stains over time. If your tile is discolored from a spill or other source, you can use a diluted acid solution to etch the tile and remove the stain. When cleaning ceramic tiles in bathrooms, it’s important to clean any metal surfaces as well for maximum hygiene.
What Not To Do
Cleaning ceramic tiles might seem easy at first, but there are some important things that you should remember not to do. For instance, ammonia-based cleaners leave behind streaks even after they’re fully rinsed off. These cleaners also have a strong odor that can be irritating if left too long without proper ventilation. Vinegar may be safe on tile surfaces, but it isn’t good for grout or metal surfaces. Vinegar can also damage natural stone tiles, especially marble.
If you have laminate wood floors installed over your ceramic tile, read this cleaning guide carefully. Laminate planks are extremely sensitive to water damage and stains from cleaners that are safe on tiling. You may need to use an entirely different mixture of cleaners when there’s a laminate floor in the house.
Specialty Cleaning Products for Ceramic Tile Floors
There are specialty cleaning products made just for tiled areas. So whether you’re dealing with carpets, high-traffic tile, or delicate stone, you’ll find something suitable for your needs at your local hardware store or online. For instance, Bona’s Miracle Method hardwood floor cleaner is perfect for laminate installations or tiled areas that have heavy traffic or mildew.
How to keep your clean floor looking clean
It’s important that you vacuum your tiled flooring regularly. Regular vacuuming will help remove dirt before it’s ground into the surface of the tiles by foot traffic, making it easier to clean in the long run. If you wait too long between vacuums, built-up debris can make your tiles look dingy.
Mop your tile flooring at least once a week to remove any loose dirt or debris that gets caught in the grout lines. Be sure that you’re using a mop head designed for use on ceramic tile floors rather than one with thick strands of synthetic yarns. Over time, these can damage the grout lines, causing tiles to crack or come loose from their surrounding mortar. Instead, use warm water mixed with white vinegar and neutral pH dish soap* to clean the floor without leaving behind residue. If there are particularly tough spots where food has burned onto the surface of your tiles, use an all-purpose cleaner safe for cleaning hardened grease along with baking soda instead of just a neutral pH dish soap.
Once your tiled flooring has been thoroughly cleaned, at least once a week, apply an all-purpose stone and ceramic sealant to protect against dusting, staining, and damage caused by harsh chemicals. These types of coatings are designed to bond more tightly with the surface of the tiles than household cleaners do. Next, use a low-speed floor machine with clean mop heads that are safe for use on tiled floors (not synthetic yarn mopheads) to distribute the sealant evenly across your floor.
One of the easiest things you can do to keep your floor looking clean for longer is to use a squeegee when you mop it. This will remove excess water that might otherwise drip down into cracks and crevices between tiles, where dirt has easier access to build up over time. While cleaning with a mop, push the squeegee across the surface of your tiles at right angles to create straight lines of suds left behind on the tile, rather than circular patterns that look like they’ve been lifted off by hand.
Most all-purpose cleaners are designed to work well on tile surfaces, but you should also check the label to make sure that they’re safe for grout lines. For example, when you use a neutral pH dish soap or an acidic solution of vinegar and water, these are less likely to become stuck in the porous surface of your tiles, where they can’t evaporate away completely before you come back with more dirt on your shoes.
All-purpose cleaners typically have higher alkalinity levels than dish soaps or acidic solutions do, which helps them cut through built-up grease and soil easier. However, this also means that they’re more likely to affect the surface of your tiles than soaps or acidic solutions are.
Ceramic tile floors are both durable and easy to clean, as long as you know how to care for them properly. By keeping your tiles free of grime and dirt buildup, you’ll keep pitting and etching to a minimum. In addition, regularly sealing the grout can help prevent water damage at its source, while following proper mopping techniques will keep your floors free of sticky, streaky residue.