How to Properly Clean Your Tile Floors and Keep Them Sparkling

Kitchen with gray tile flooring.

Pure Salt Interiors

Tile can be a wonderfully low-maintenance flooring and is especially great in areas where spills and splashes are common, like bathrooms and kitchens.

But, even the most low-maintenance floor needs a good clean now and again. Follow these tips to keep your tile sparkling, clean, and splatter-free.

How Often Should You Clean Tile?

Generally speaking, tile floors can mostly be dry cleaned with a broom or vacuum once a week. But, around once a month, you'll want to bust out the mop and bucket to wet clean the floors as well.

Things You'll Need:

  • Vacuum
  • Vinegar
  • Flat mop
  • Toothbrush
  • PH-neutral floor cleaner
kitchen floor tile ideas

Erin Williamson Design

Step 1: Dry Clean Your Tile

Dry-cleaning your floors about once a week is a good practice to get into. Not only does it keep grit and debris from building up and being tracked around the house, but it's also good for the tile as well. As you walk around, built-up debris can grind into the tile, damaging finishing and dulling the shine.

To dry clean a tile floor, simply sweep or vacuum the entire area, taking care to get under counters and sinks. Vacuums are great for doing this quickly, but brooms offer advantages like being able to get into narrow spaces without busting out attachments. For messy areas, like busy kitchens, dry-cleaning may also need to happen more frequently.

Step 2: Move On to a Wet Cleaning

Once a month (or less in less-trafficked areas) you should also wet-clean your floors. Start by dry-cleaning the floor thoroughly first. While there are plenty of specialty cleaners for every possible surface and material, for most tile floors, you can DIY your own version for a lot less money.

Step 3: DIY Your Cleaner and Mop

Using 1/4 a cup of vinegar for every quart of water, you can make a cleaning solution that works great on ceramic and porcelain tiles. After mixing your solution, you're ready to mop.

There are lots of different mops available, and most should work fine, but avoid sponge mops. They can actually push grimy water into the grout. If you want the convenience of a flat mop, look for ones with a microfiber or cotton head that can still be squeezed. For smaller areas, like a half bath, you can also forgo the mop and use a clean cloth.

  1. Clean in long, even strokes, working from a far corner of the room towards the door if necessary.
  2. If your floors are really dirty, you may need to refill the bucket and rinse off the mop as you go to avoid a murky floor.
  3. If you really want your floors to sparkle, dry them off afterward with a clean towel.

Step 4: Handle the Grout

If your grout starts looking extra dirty, you may need to use a toothbrush or small bristle brush and a grout cleaner. You can also make a DIY cleaning paste with baking soda, mild soap, and hydrogen peroxide. Apply the cleaner with a brush and scrub them clean.

Step 5: Spot Treat Stains

Because most tile is non-porous, stains aren't common. Dried-on splatters can often be loosened with moping, but occasionally, a stain may prove more stubborn.

If stains remain, you can use hot water and detergent then blot with hydrogen peroxide to lift. Grease stains can be lifted with club soda, or a commercial cleaner if necessary. If something is dried on, try letting a cleaning mixture sit for a bit to loosen it.

Bathroom with beige tile.

Pure Salt Interiors

Tips for Cleaning Special Tile

Porcelain and ceramic are two of the most common tiles. But if you have another tile, like slate or marble, you'll need to take slightly different steps to keep the tile looking fresh.

For marble, granite, and slate tiles, you can use the same method described above, just avoid acidic cleaners like vinegar. Instead, use a PH-neutral detergent or floor cleaner. While ceramic and porcelain are also very tough, other materials, like marble and vinyl, can be scratched by abrasive cleaners.

Linoleum, which can sometimes be applied in a tile pattern, is very resilient and can be cleaned the same as tile floors. Just check to see if your linoleum may need to be resealed with wax to protect it.

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