How to Clean Tile Floors (5 Methods That Work)

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Categories Tiles
For tiles that “shine bright like a diamond.”

Tiles are one of the most popular types of flooring. We love them because they’re easy to maintain if you know how to clean tile floors effectively.

Are you looking for an effective way to clean your tiles? Maybe you’ve got a good cleaning regimen but want to take things to another level. Then you’ve come to the right place.

Table of Contents

    Advantages of Tile Flooring

    If you’re redoing your home or building from scratch, you’ll face the decision of flooring at some point. Which type should you choose? Here are a few reasons why you should go for tiles.

    1. Durable

    Tiles are fundamentally made of natural earthen clays mixed with water and transformed using fire. What you get is a surface to count on.

    This flooring is also difficult to crack and can last for centuries if well-maintained. But if one tile does break, it’s easy to replace it without having to take out sections of the floor. Many tile manufacturers now use new technologies to increase traction on the often slippery surface.

    2. Water-Resistant

    If your ceramic tiles are glazed, they’ll be able to withstand anything. Water, dirt and stains won’t be a worry since they can’t be absorbed. This is unlike other floors such as hardwood which is very sensitive to any moisture.

    Tiles are an excellent option in humid regions since they can withstand moisture. They’re also a good option in areas with higher temperatures since tiles are naturally cooler than other floor types.

    3. Easy to Maintain

    Keeping ceramic tiles clean is an easy task. Sweeping or vacuuming should be a part of your regular cleaning regime to keep the floors shining. Dust and dirt are visible on the surface, making them quick to wipe off.

    It’s also safe to use most heavy-duty cleaning products on tiles. This makes it even easier to remove tough stains.

    4. Design Variations

    One of the main reasons why homeowners choose ceramic tiles is because of the many design options available. Manufacturers use techniques that allow tiles to be printed in various ways.

    Tiles come in all sorts of colors, patterns and designs — you can even find manufacturers who do customization. If you like the durability of tiles but want the look of hardwood or natural stone, you can find that as well.

    5. Allergen-Resistant

    Flooring type is critical if a family member is dealing with allergies or asthma. Carpets can quickly become a thriving spot for dust mites, mold spores and other triggers. These allergens can also flourish in between hardwood floor planks.

    Tiles, on the other hand, are hard and won’t store possible allergens. When dust, dirt or pollen land on tile flooring, you can quickly spot and mop or sweep them away. This can improve the overall air quality in your home and keep everyone comfortable.

    6. Timeless

    Tiles can be timeless — and they can send a definitive message about your design preferences. You can mix and match different colors to show off your style, whether it’s contemporary, chic, rustic, or casual.

    7. Affordable

    Ceramic tiles are one of the most affordable flooring types. Prices start from under $5 per square foot. DIY-homeowners and families on a budget can easily find something suitable.

    There is a wide price range when it comes to tiles. Lower-quality is the cheapest, and as the quality improves, prices can match that of hardwood. It all depends on the quality and how difficult it is to install.

    Glazed vs. Unglazed Tiles

    With tiles, you get to choose between glazed and unglazed floors. Each option has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages for various spaces.

    As to how glazed and unglazed tiles are made, there’s not much difference other than the extra process glazed tiles undergo. During that process, liquid glass is added as a thin layer using very high temperatures.

    Durability

    Unglazed Tiles

    Unglazed porcelain and ceramic tiles are generally thicker and denser compared to glazed. Due to its unfinished exterior, unglazed tiles have a rougher texture as well. This makes them an excellent option for areas such as the laundry room and kitchen where a slippery surface can be dangerous.

    For outdoor use in milder climates, unglazed tiles are also a good option. They’re unlikely to scratch and excellent in high-traffic areas.

    Glazed Tiles

    There are different types of glaze — some are lighter while others are darker. This affects the tiles’ durability significantly.

    Lighter glazes are fired at higher temperatures than dark glazes, and as a result, both the glazes and tiles are denser.

    Because of the glass layer, glazed tiles are more prone to chipping or cracks. However, they’re also more resistant to staining, thanks to the added protective coating.

    Aesthetics

    Unglazed Tiles

    Many prefer unglazed tiles because of the natural beauty they bring to a home. These aren’t colored or printed; they simply have the earthy color provided by the mineral deposit of the clay used.

    Glazed Tiles

    Because of the added layer of glass, glazed tiles can take on any color, pattern or even print. These are excellent for decorative rooms, such as a colorful bathroom. Some glazed tiles are also made with textures to add an extra element.

    Maintenance

    Unglazed Tiles

    Due to the rough texture of unglazed tiles, they tend to attract more dirt and hold onto it. They will, therefore, require more frequent cleaning than glazed tiles.

    However, because unglazed tiles are less likely to scratch, you can use stiffer brushes to remove stains or dirt. You can also use natural cleaning solutions such as water and vinegar, or use any commercial product safe for tiles.

    Glazed Tiles

    Glazed tiles have a shiny or glossy exterior. This makes dust, dirt and allergens more visible. However, these tiles won’t hold onto dirt and stains as unglazed flooring does.

    So you can quickly remove dust and dirt using a broom, vacuum or dry mop. Using a dry mop is also an excellent way to buff some shine into the tiles.

    Best Cleaning Tools for Tile Floors

    Cleaning tile floors is a breeze compared to other popular flooring such as hardwood and laminate. Tiles are less sensitive and can be cleaned using various tools, as well as commercial and natural products.

    Best Ways to Get Rid of Dust and Dirt

    Regular sweeping or vacuuming works wonders to keep tiles clean and sparkling. Although tiles won’t hold onto dust and dirt the same way as carpets, dirt can still cause the floors to look dull.

    Light Cleaning

    • Vacuums for Tiles: The most efficient vacuums for tiles have strong suction and hard floor settings. It’s important to note that although tiles aren’t as sensitive as hardwood, scratches can happen. Therefore, you shouldn’t use attachments meant for carpets, such as beater rolls or hard brushes.
    • Flared brooms and dry mops: are also excellent choices for light cleaning chores. These will get rid of dust and dirt efficiently but do require a little more manual labor compared to a vacuum.
    • Microfiber mops: If you want to bring some shine to your floors after sweeping, a microfiber mop is a handy tool. It’s easy to use and won’t make a sound as you clean your way through the house.
    • Spray bottle: For effective light-cleaning, you can mix a cup of white vinegar in a spray bottle filled with water. Spray as you go along using the microfiber mop with a damp cloth. Vinegar works brilliantly at adding long-lasting shine to tiles.

    Deep Cleaning

    When you feel it’s time for a deeper clean, you might want to get out the old mop and bucket. But there are a few other ways to do it.

    • Spin mops: Using a spin mop can revive dull floors with minimal effort. Mix a cup of white vinegar in the bucket of water for extra shine. Or you can mix in some surface cleaner to thoroughly clean your floors. If you want something a bit more high-tech to help you clean your tiles, a floor scrubber does all the work for you.
    • Steam mops: These are another high-tech tool for removing tough stains and bacteria. It’s popular among families with young children since it keeps the floors clean for babies to crawl on. If you want a fresh scent to fill your home as you clean, you can add a commercial product to the mop. Some solutions are made with demineralized water and added scents such as mint and eucalyptus.

    Take Note

    When using a steam mop, we highly recommend that you fill it with distilled water. Tap water can be high in minerals which can begin to build up inside the steamer, reducing its effectiveness.
    Related Reading
    Cleaning tiles with a steam mopThe Top Five Steam Mops for Tiles and Grout

    How to Clean Tile Floors

    There are many ways to clean tiles, and a range of tools effective at cleaning and shining these floors. First things first, though, before starting, make sure your floors are clear. Sweep away dust and loose dirt and pick up toys or any other items.

    How to Clean Tiles Using a Manual Mop

    Step #1: Choose a Mop

    A manual mop can be a spin mop, microfiber mop or a regular wring mop. These all work on tiles.

    However, water and soap can quickly leave marks on tiles. So it might look nice and clean while wet, but as soon as it dries, you may discover residue and streaks. The only way to fix this is by wiping the floors using a damp cloth (preferably microfiber).

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    Step #2: Choose a Solution

    Fill the bucket with water as you usually would. You can then choose which product you’d like to clean with. For a natural product, we prefer white vinegar as it adds shine and eliminates odors — excellent for pet families.

    You can also choose a commercial multi-surface cleaner. Use as directed — some products require rinsing afterward to eliminate residue.

    Step #3: Start Mopping

    Start at the furthest part of the room. Keep dipping the mop in the bucket ever so often, so you’re not spreading dirt. Remember to wring the mop well.

    If you’re using a microfiber mop, you’ll have to remove the cloth to wet it. This can be difficult, but using a spray bottle to wet the floor as you go can make the job easier.

    How to Clean Tiles Using a Steam Mop

    Step #1: Add Water

    Start by filling the tank with water, preferably distilled. Skip the detergent or dish soap as this could ruin your machine. Use only distilled water or purchase a product specially made for steam mops.

    Step #2: Attach the Cloth

    Attach the microfiber cloth to the steam head. Some use elastics to attach, while others use hooks and latches. If you’re unsure, follow the directions provided.

    Step #3: Allow to Heat

    Plug the steamer into an outlet and allow it to heat. Some steamers will automatically turn on when plugged in, while others have a switch.

    Allow it to heat for as long as directed. Some steam models are ready in under 30 seconds. Others can take up to a minute or two.

    Step #4: Release the Steam

    Once the steamer is ready, place it on the floor and squeeze or pump the trigger. This will release steam through the microfiber floorhead as you go along. Then use back and forth motions, similar to mopping.

    Caution

    Wear shoes and be mindful of the steam head while cleaning. Steam temperatures are scalding and can cause injury (1).

    Step #5: Allow the Floor to Dry

    Once you’re done, allow the floor to dry. Steam cleaners don’t use as much water as a mop, so it shouldn’t take too long. If your steam mop is still plugged in, unplug it and allow it to cool before removing the cloth.

    How to Clean Tiles Using a Spray Mop

    Step #1: Fill the Tank

    A spray mop resembles a regular microfiber mop, but it has a small tank, trigger and spray nozzle. Depending on the brand, you can buy individual bottles that can be put straight into the container. These contain a cleaning solution ready to go.

    Step #2: Attach the Cloth

    Attach the microfiber cloth to the floorhead. This is usually attached using elastic pockets, but some use hooks and even velcro.

    Step #3: Start Cleaning

    Spray mops are super easy to use, and they eliminate the pain of having to carry a heavy bucket around. Pull the trigger to release the cleaning solution as you go. Then mop back and forth as usual.

    When you’re done, most microfiber cloths can be washed in the washer and reused clean the next time.

    Tips for Keeping Your Grout Clean

    Dirty grout lines can quickly make your sparkling tiles look grimy. If your grout is stained or discolored, you’ll need a few tools to restore it. Our tips below will help:

    • Use a commercial product: Multiple products available in stores and online clean grout well. Apply as directed by the manufacturer.
    • Clean with vinegar and baking soda: Vinegar and baking soda are effective at removing grime from grout lines. Make a paste and scrub with a small brush.
    • Oxygen bleach and warm water: Add two tablespoons of bleach to two cups of water right before using. This should only be used for white grout as it can discolor colored grout. Apply the mix, scrub with a brush and rinse using a mop or cloth.
    • Use a grout brush: Grout brushes are small and stiff. They fit perfectly into the tiny lines.
    • Steam clean: If you have a steam mop or cleaner, these can be highly efficient at cleaning grout without chemicals. Use a small attachment to get into the grout lines easily. Note, though, that steam removes sealants, so you should only use it on unsealed grout or before resealing.
    • Seal the grout: Unsealed grout is not only prone to staining and discoloration, but it’s also difficult to clean. You can easily seal the grout yourself.

    Cleaning Tiles With Vinegar and Baking Soda

    If you’re not into using harsh cleaning chemicals, there are natural ways to get a sparkling result.

    Vinegar

    Vinegar is a natural universal cleaning product. It effectively adds shine to tiles while deodorizing and disinfecting. All you have to do is add 4 ounces of vinegar to a gallon of water. Then mop as you normally would.

    The scent of vinegar might be strong at first, but don’t worry. It soon settles and becomes a neutral, clean smell throughout your home. You can also add lemon juice or essential oils to alter the scent if you don’t like the strong smell of vinegar.

    Keep in Mind

    If your tiles are natural stone, steer clear of using vinegar. The acid in vinegar could damage these floors (2).

    Baking Soda

    Baking soda is excellent at removing tough stains from tiles. You can clean by dissolving half a cup of baking soda in a gallon of water. Then mop as usual and rinse with clean water.

    You can also combine 4 ounces of baking soda, 4 ounces of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of dish soap in 2 gallons of water. If you like, add a few drops of essential oils, such as lavender, for a fresh scent.

    Quick Tip

    It’s a good idea to rinse the floor using a damp mop to remove any residue. Baking soda is a powder and can, therefore, leave spots if not fully dissolved.

    Removing Stains From Tile Floors

    Unfortunately, stains can happen on tile floors too, thanks to various spills and mishaps. Here are some common stains and how to remove them.

    Grease and Oil

    Tiles in kitchens and bathrooms are often victims of grease. The best way to clean this is by using a stiff brush and detergent.

    You can also make a solution of 4 cups of hot water with 1 tablespoon of trisodium phosphate. Trisodium phosphate is alkaline and, therefore, very effective at removing grease and oil. It’s also highly disinfecting and is commonly used in the food industry to remove salmonella from poultry (3).

    Mildew

    Mildew is a common problem in moist areas such as the bathroom. It’s often found in the grout, but it can also be present on the tiles. In order to successfully remove mildew, you’ll have to kill the source (4).

    Using bleach is one of the best ways to get rid of mildew. Mix one cup of bleach (laundry) with 4 cups of water. Apply the mixture using a sponge and rinse with clean water. You may need to scrub it a little if the mildew is persistent.

    Stay Safe

    Always wear gloves when using bleach. It can burn your hands and discolor your clothes (5).

    If the mildew doesn’t budge, you may need to invest in a commercial product. These usually contain sodium hypochlorite and sodium carbonate. Be sure to keep the room well ventilated while using them.

    Caution

    Never mix chlorine bleach and ammonia. This will cause toxic fumes and can lead to health issues such as vomiting and nose bleeds (6).

    Shoe Markings

    Shoe markings can be frustrating to discover on your clean tiles. Luckily, these marks are easy to remove.

    The best way to remove such marks is by using a neutral cleaner. Neutral cleaners have a pH-level of 7, making them safe for all types of tiles. Dilute the detergent as instructed and use a cloth to scrub the markings.

    Rust

    Rust can be found underneath metal containers and objects placed in areas with more moisture. Luckily, the problem isn’t as challenging to get rid of as you might think.

    Soak the rust stains with pure lemon juice and allow it to sit for five minutes. Check on it to make sure the fluid doesn’t dry.

    Scrub the stain using an old toothbrush or a grout brush if you have one. If the rust is still present, repeat the process but apply a generous amount of salt or borax to cover the area (7).

    Allow it to sit for up to four hours, depending on the stain. Then scrub the stain with a brush and rinse with water.

    Additional Tips to Keep in Mind

    By now, we should know how to clean tile floors and remove common stains. These extra tips will ensure you get the best results:

    • Keep it light: Avoid leaving large amounts of water on your tile floors. Standing water can be absorbed partly. However, it can leave annoying marks that require additional cleaning.
    • Mind the grout: Cleaning the grout is often missed because we think it must get cleaned along with the tiles. This isn’t always the case. So, once a month, give the grout a good clean and seal it if unsealed.
    • Go natural: Natural products such as vinegar and baking soda are excellent on tiles. Both are good options for families with pets or young children who like to avoid chemicals.
    • Remove spills: By cleaning spills as they happen, you can prevent stains. Keep a spray bottle with equal parts water and vinegar ready to clean minor messes.
    • Avoid hard tools: Tiles are tough, but that doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind. Avoid using hard tools such as steel wool, beater rolls and scouring powders. Instead, use microfiber cloths and sponges to remove tough stains.

    Tip of the Tile

    Tiles are versatile and easy to maintain — this is why so many homeowners prefer this flooring. You can also find a range of styles, colors and shapes to suit your taste and your home.

    The right way to clean tile floors depends on what stains you’re facing. You can easily keep your floors clean by sweeping or vacuuming regularly. Use a mop or steam mop to get a deeper clean and shining result.

    What kind of tiles do you have in your home? Share your thoughts and cleaning tips in the section below.

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    About the Author

    Amy Anthony

    Amy is a stay-at-home-mom, seasoned writer, and a home cleaning and organization authority. Amy enjoys having an absolutely spotless home and has worked hard to develop strategies to keep it that way, despite having 2 kids and 3 dogs! Amy loves sharing her top tips to declutter and achieve a sparkling house with minimal effort.
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    1 Reader Comment

    1. Henry Killingsworth

      I found it helpful when you explained that the best way to clean tile floors is by using a damp cloth, so that streak marks don’t get left behind. A couple of days ago, I was visiting my sister when one of her children spilled a bunch of juice all over her kitchen floor. I think it would be a good idea for her to hire a cleaning service to fix the mess on the tiles in her kitchen so that she doesn’t use the wrong kind of soap.

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