How to Deep Clean Tile Floors: A Step-by-Step Guide

By
Gladys K. Connelly
As a HouseKeeping Technical Writer, Gladys actively enjoys writing guides and tips about housekeeping for Thehousewire's audience. She's a professional housekeeping specialist with just shy of 9 years' experience to boast. That, combined with seven years prior experience in teaching, helps her create content that is both captivating and insightful.
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Updated April 12, 2022

From Dull To Shining Floors With These Helpful Tips

From Dull To Shining Floors With These Helpful Tips

Cleaning supplies to clean tile floors

Tile flooring is a staple of your home’s bathroom and kitchen—it’s functional, beautiful and usually water resistant.

The grout that joins your tile however, is unfortunately a fantastic area to trap dirt and bacteria.

Over time, dirt absorbs into the grout and leaves stains. Regular cleaning methods aren’t always the best solution, since some tile floors are delicate or prone to scratching.

With so many varieties, like stone, marble, ceramic or porcelain tiles, it’s hard to know which deeo cleaning method is the best. That’s why we made this helpful guide on the best way to clean tile floors.

How Often Should You Deep Clean Tile Floors?

The US Tile Association recommends you sweep, vacuum or mop your tile floors regularly.

If your household sees a lot of foot traffic, you should clean every day. For less frequently used rooms in your house, cleaning once a week is sufficient.

A wet mop is best for removing tough dirt, but few people have time to mop daily. The best rule of thumb is to wet mop as needed.

Houses with pets and kids will need to mop more frequently, while others can get by mopping once a month.

What You’ll Need

To clean your tile floors, make sure you have these tile cleaning supplies on hand.

* : or dish soap, or slightly alkaline cleaner such as Spic and Span or Mr. Clean

Instructions

Cleaning supplies to Clean Tile Floors (700 × 355 px)

How to Deep Clean Ceramic Tile or Porcelain Tile Floors

Ceramic tiles and porcelain tiles are extremely durable, but still provide some challenges when it comes to cleaning.

You should know if your ceramic and porcelain tiles are unglazed or glazed.

  • Unglazed tiles are porous, and can soak up stains more easily.
  • Glazed tiles are impenetrable by water, but can lose their shine with improper cleaning techniques.

01 Sweep Your Floor

A vacuum sweeping tile floors

It’s important to always sweep or vacuum your floor before doing any mopping. This ensures the mop doesn’t just push around the dirt and remove loose dirt and debris.

For ceramic tiles, it’s also important so there is no grit or sand to scratch the hard surface. For tile floors made from natural materials like porcelain, dirt can actually get ground into the tile over time. This causes unsightly pitting that has to be remediated by a professional.

Regular sweeping or vacuuming will keep grit from becoming a permanent fixture in your floors.

If you prefer to sweep over vacuum, opt for a dry mop to clean ceramic tile floors or porcelain tile floors. A dry mop collects more debris and provides better day-to-day protection for your tile floor.

02 Damp Mop Your Floor

A wet mop cleaning tile floors

Next, lightly mop your tile with hot water. Hot or warm water alone is usually enough to clean the dirt from tile. Using harsh chemicals daily or weekly can wear away the shine, especially on glazed tile.

When it is time for a deep clean, make sure you choose a formula that won’t harm your grout. Check out this list from the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) of manufacturers with products designed for tile. (1)

If none of those products are available to you, then choose a pH-neutral cleaning solution (like dish soap!). A slightly alkaline cleaner will also be safe to use.

Simple Dish Soap Cleaning Mixture

Tip

Opt for a flat mop rather than a sponge mop. This will prevent water from being pushed into the absorbent grout.

03 Rinse the Tile Thoroughly With Clean Water and Dry

A clean mop rinsing tile floors

Use the mop and bucket to rinse your tile floor thoroughly. You don’t want to leave any soap residue from the cleaners, since this will attract dirt. Rinsing also helps reduce the appearance of streaks.

Tile floor is slippery, so give your floors ample time to dry. Air drying will do—or speed up the process with a dry mop or lint free cloth.

How to Deep Clean Stone Tile Floors

A wet mop cleaning stone tile floors

There’s nothing like the rustic beauty of natural stone tiles. When cleaning marble tile, slate tile or granite tile, be aware that stiff broom bristles can cause scratches. Choose a vacuum with a hard floor setting instead.

Stone is a natural material, so it’s best to use mild and natural ingredients to clean it. Opt for a mild detergent like dish soap, or stone soap if you can find it.

Rule Of Thumb

Never use abrasive cleaners such as baking soda or acidic cleaners such as white vinegar on natural stone, as they can actually eat away at the material.

Apply the cleaning solution with a string mop for best results, and rinse with clean water. Dry with a cloth or towel to finish.

How to Deep Clean Vinyl, Cork or Linoleum Tile Floors

How to Clean Vinyl, Cork or Linoleum Tile Floors

Though less common than ceramic, stone or porcelain tile, these other tile floors also require special consideration when cleaning.

Vinyl Tile Floors

Vinyl is one of the most resilient types of tile floors. It is 100% synthetic, and designed to be durable and wear resistant.

More and more homes are choosing vinyl floors because they are so easy to care for.

To clean vinyl, sweep or vacuum regularly.

You can then mop with warm water and a cleaner of your choice. If you’re unsure which cleaner is best, go with what the manufacturer recommends.

Simple Vinyl Tile Cleaner

Be sure to rinse the floor clean after using ammonia, as it is toxic for pets.

Cork Tile Floor

Cork is a soft tile that is comfortable underfoot as it has some “give”. It is also naturally resistant to allergens like mildew and mold, and is antimicrobial. As cork is harvested from a living tree, it is also sustainable.

The softness of cork also means that this type of floor is more susceptible to water damage. When deep cleaning tile floors made from cork, never let liquid sit for any period of time. This can affect the finish and functionality of the cork.

Sweep or vacuum cork tile floors regularly.

Do a wet clean once or twice a month, but make sure it’s not sopping wet while you clean. Always use either a cork floor cleaner or a mild wood floor detergent.

Linoleum Tile Floors

Linoleum floors are increasing in popularity for a few reasons. Firstly because it is natural–it is made from linseed oil. Secondly, it is soft underfoot, so you can stand on it for long periods of time without getting sore feet.

Because linoleum is more porous than most tiles, it is less resistant to water. It is also more sensitive to harsh chemicals, so be sure to use pH neutral detergents.

Your linoleum should be dust mopped and wet mopped daily to help maintain its longevity. We recommend having a seal layer added to your linoleum tile. This will help it be more resistant to water, and last longer.

How to Deep Clean Tile Grout

How To Clean Tile Grout (700 × 355 px)

Since grout is porous, it can develop stains over time.

These stains won’t come clean just from regular vacuuming and mopping. Stains in your grout affect the overall look of your floors, so you should know how to clean them.

01 Scrub with Grout Brush

Using a grout scrub brush (or an old toothbrush), scrub with warm water and a tile and grout cleaner.

As with most tile flooring, make sure the cleaner is pH neutral. Dish soap is always an option, or you can use a tile floor cleaner like Stanley Steemer.

You can also opt for a slightly alkaline cleaner such as this Biokleen oxygen bleach. This Black Diamond grout cleaner is another great option that is formulated specifically for grout.

Warning

But stay away from acidic cleaners such as white vinegar, corrosive cleaners such as baking, or high alkaline cleaners such as bleach and ammonia.

A great alternative to scrubbing grout is to use a steam mop for tiles or a steam cleaner with a brass brush attachment.

02 Vacuum Up the Dirt

Now that you’ve scrubbed all the dirt out from the grout, you’re stuck with dirty water in the crevices.

If you have a wet/dry vacuum, you can use it to lift the dirty water off the joint. If you don’t have a wet/dry vacuum, a string mop or cloth will do.

03 Rinse With Water

To flush the dirt from your grout, make sure you rinse your floors with clean water. This will also ensure there is no leftover cleaning solution still on your floor.

Soapy residue can settle back into your clean grout and make it look dirty again.

04 Dry With a Clean Towel

When you’re finished rinsing, dry your tile and grout with a towel.

You never want to leave water sitting in your grout, because it can start to harbor bacteria. Mold and mildew build-up in tile grout is also a common problem you want to avoid.

With this last step complete, you should have clean tile floors and stain-free grout!

One way to avoid grout from staining in the first place is to have your tile floor sealed. This will keep moisture and dirt out, and avoid stains from setting in your grout lines.

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