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Cleaning

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What is the Best Way to Clean Tile Surfaces?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated: May 17, 2024

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Discussion Comments
By anon126755 — On Nov 13, 2010

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.

By dill1971 — On Jul 25, 2010

@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.

By googie98 — On Jul 25, 2010

Do those techniques work for ceramic tile also?

By osmosis — On Apr 11, 2008

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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