Getting the kitchen and bathroom squeaky clean is already an overwhelming task. If you have tile floors in those spaces, that can make the job feel like even more of a hassle —especially if you aren’t getting the results that you want! To reveal a sparkling surface once again, we asked experts for the best way to clean tile floors based on the tile type, the secrets to getting grout white again and what tile floor cleaning mistakes to avoid.
How to clean all tile floors
No matter what type of tile floor you have, there are a few general cleaning tips to follow. First, ensure you sweep your floor before you begin mopping. This keeps dirt and grime from scratching the surface of the tile.
When you are ready to mop, opt for a mop made with microfiber. “They are gentle on the surface and don’t leave streaks,” says Diana Ciechorska, general manager at Park Slope Cleaning in Brooklyn, NY. “Plus, they can be used dry for dusting or wet for mopping.”
Finally, ensure you don’t use too much water or cleaner, advises Obi Ukwu, owner of Maid Attendants in Nashville, TN. Too much liquid can get into the grout and lead to mold or make the tiles loose over time.
The best way to clean ceramic tile floors
One of the easiest and most effective ways to get your ceramic tile floor clean is with a tile detergent! “While the word detergent might sound like there are a lot of risky chemicals involved, most modern tile detergents are eco-friendly, biodegradable and have a neutral pH to ensure your tiles and grout joints aren’t worn during repeated cleaning,” says Abbas Youssefi, tile expert at Porcelain Superstore.
To use a detergent like FABER Tile Floor Cleaner Neutral Detergent for Daily Floor Cleaning (Buy from Amazon, $17.99), follow the instructions on the bottle to add the recommended amount in a bucket of warm water. “Using a clean mop head, mop your floor tiles in a figure of 8 motion,” adds Youssefi.
Youssefi’s smart tip: “Always mop from the corner farthest from the doorway and work your way back.”
Finish by drying your floor with a clean microfiber cloth to prevent watermarks. (Tip: You can also leave your windows open on warmer days to speed up drying time!)
Prefer an all-natural and affordable alternative? The pros say vinegar can get the job done just as well! “It’s an eco-friendly and effective solution for cleaning tile floors,” says Ciechorska. “Mix one part white vinegar with three parts water and mop your tile floors with this solution. It helps break down grease and grime and leaves your tiles sparkling clean.”
The best way to clean porcelain tile floors
“Steam mops can be a great choice for porcelain floor tiles,” shares Youssefi. “Not only will the steam clean off any grime, but it will also sterilize the surface of your tiles, so it’s great if you have playful toddlers or pets at home.” And no cleaning solution is needed!
When using a steam mop, move it across the tile at a speed slightly slower than you would vacuum. (If needed, follow the instructions included with the machine for best results). “The steam will clean, sanitize and deodorize the floor simultaneously,” adds Youssefi. “There’s no need for an extra rinsing step and the floor should dry quickly, without any excess moisture or residue left behind.”
See steam mopping in action in the video below:
Don’t want to spend on a steam mop? Cleaning porcelain tile is one of the easiest things to do, as well as the cheapest. The secret is the same all-natural method used for ceramic tiles. “All you need is a vinegar and water solution,” say Suzy Cacic, founder of Better Decorating Bible. She recommends mixing one gallon of warm to hot water with ¼ cup of white vinegar. Apply the solution to the tiles. After allowing it to set for a few minutes, use a flat mop with a microfiber cover to clean the floor.
Next, mop again with hot water (without the solution). Then dry the tile with a microfiber cloth. This helps clean porcelain tile floors without streaks.
The best way to clean stone tile floors
It’s no secret that stone tile flooring is expensive. Another common issue: “Natural stone tiles such as marble or granite are a bit more high-maintenance,” shares Ukwu. But you can keep them in great shape by “using a pH-neutral cleaner made just for stone.”
When cleaning stone tile floors, home-cleaning expert Debra Johnson of Merry Maids recommends these steps: Using a flat mop with a microfiber cloth cover, clean the floors with a solution of warm water and natural stone tile cleaner.
Replace your mop with a new microfiber cover, then mop the surface once more. This will polish the floors and make ceramic tiles shine.
The secrets to cleaning tile grout on floors
No matter how clean you get your tiles, if the grout is dirty your floors will look it too. Luckily, you can grout looking like new again with some Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Bleach (Buy from Amazon, $5.22) and a small brush.
In the YouTube video below, Kat Craig shows how well this works on dingy grout.
After applying to grout lines, she lets sit for 30 minutes before scrubbing with small brush. Finally, she uses a wet mop to wipe down the floor to get as much of the product off the tiles as possible.
If you’re short on time and can’t make a trip to the store for cleaning products, there are some household staples that work just as well for cleaning grout.
“A paste made from baking soda and hydrogen peroxide can work wonders,” explains Ciechorska. “Apply the paste to the grout, let it sit for 15 minutes and then scrub with a toothbrush.” The peroxide releases oxygen to break down dirt and grime. (Click through for more uses for baking soda).
What *not* to use when cleaning tile floors
In order to increase the longevity of your floors, there are certain things you should avoid depending on the type of tile you have.
- Have stone floors? A Stronger cleaners isn’t always better. “Stay away from acidic stuff like vinegar or lemon juice – they can harm the surface,” advises Ukwu. Similarly, steam mops should not be used on stone tile. “They are not a good option for certain tiles slate, marble, granite, travertine and terracotta tiles as they are naturally porous and can be inadvertently damaged by high temperatures,” adds Youssefi.
- Have glazed tiles? Stay away from oil-based cleaners.
- Have unglazed ceramic? Use water sparingly. Too much can cause stains or damage!
Finally, regardless of what type of material your floor is made of, stay clear of strong chemical cleaners. “Harsh chemicals can damage the grout and the finish on some tiles,” says Ciechorska. “Stick to mild, pH-neutral cleaners to maintain the longevity of your tile flooring.”
For more brilliant cleaning hacks keep reading!