What is the Best Way to Clean Tile Surfaces?

Sherry Holetzky
Sherry Holetzky
Grout requires regular cleaning.
Grout requires regular cleaning.

Dingy grout or tile can detract from the overall look of an otherwise great space. Keeping tile and grout clean can make the difference between freshening up a space and having to endure a complete renovation. The best way to clean tile surfaces is to use a soft cloth and warm water when dealing with mild soil. While more stringent cleaners or scrubbing implements may sometimes be necessary to clean tile, it is best to start out using the mildest options possible to protect the glaze.

When cleaning tile, it's best to start with a mild cleaning product and ensure that it's safe and effective.
When cleaning tile, it's best to start with a mild cleaning product and ensure that it's safe and effective.

If your surface isn’t glazed, consider applying a sealant to protect it and to make it easier to clean tile. If you did not install the tile or have it installed yourself, you may be unsure about whether it is glazed. Apply some water to test it. If the color changes to a much darker tone, that means it is a porous surface that will absorb water, and it requires a sealant.

Glazed tiles are easier to clean and less likely to stain than more porous materials.
Glazed tiles are easier to clean and less likely to stain than more porous materials.

Some people suggest vinegar to clean tile on a regular basis. While it may remove some residue and appears to be a good choice, vinegar may damage tile surfaces and may also change the color of grout. Other mild household solvents and cleaning products can be used, but it is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Only use products clearly labeled as safe for tile surfaces.

Vinegar should not be used to clean tile surfaces.
Vinegar should not be used to clean tile surfaces.

If scouring is required, look for a non-abrasive cleanser and use a nylon scrubber rather than steel wool or other coarse scrubbers. For grout, try a brush that has soft bristles, such as a soft child’s toothbrush. In addition, whenever you clean tile, it is very important to rinse away all cleaning products and residue thoroughly. Dry the area and then polish the surface. You can use a buffer if desired.

There are a wide variety of products available designed specifically to be used on tile and grout.
There are a wide variety of products available designed specifically to be used on tile and grout.

It may be necessary to apply more sealant after heavy duty cleaning or the use of heavy duty products. If so, always make sure both the tile and the grout are completely dry before you begin the application, and allow the sealant to dry thoroughly before using the tiled area.

Discussion Comments

anon126755

I use a steamer to clean porous tile and grout.

no chemicals and kills any bacteria that may have been there. It does all the work for me.

dill1971

@googie98: I have ceramic tile flooring in my bathroom. I did a lot of research on ceramic tile before purchasing it. One of the things that is important with your ceramic tile is to keep it swept regularly. I use my vacuum to get dirt that is between the tiles.

There are specific cleaners that you can purchase that are made to clean ceramic tile. However, you can use the vinegar also. Apply it with a sponge. You can use an old toothbrush to clean the grout or stubborn areas.

googie98

Do those techniques work for ceramic tile also?

osmosis

I like to use vinegar to clean tiles. It doesn't have weird chemicals in it, it doesn't smell bad, and it works well.

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    • Grout requires regular cleaning.
      By: flas100
      Grout requires regular cleaning.
    • When cleaning tile, it's best to start with a mild cleaning product and ensure that it's safe and effective.
      By: diego cervo
      When cleaning tile, it's best to start with a mild cleaning product and ensure that it's safe and effective.
    • Glazed tiles are easier to clean and less likely to stain than more porous materials.
      By: Barabas Attila
      Glazed tiles are easier to clean and less likely to stain than more porous materials.
    • Vinegar should not be used to clean tile surfaces.
      By: hsagencia
      Vinegar should not be used to clean tile surfaces.
    • There are a wide variety of products available designed specifically to be used on tile and grout.
      By: Lisa F. Young
      There are a wide variety of products available designed specifically to be used on tile and grout.