How To Clean Tile Floors – The Best Methods

Tile flooring is a great choice for homeowners who want something strong and versatile, while also gaining the water-resistant properties that natural stone, porcelain, and ceramic can provide. However, tiles need regular maintenance.

If you have tile flooring in your home, then you’ve probably scratched your head at some point wondering what’s the best way to keep them in great condition. If you’re looking for information on how to clean your tile floors, we’ve got some great tips to help you keep your tile clean and stain-free.

best way to clean tile floors

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How to clean tile floors

This article covers the basics of day-to-day maintenance for your tile flooring. These tips will help you rid your floor of dust and debris, residue, and stains.

However, if the grout requires deep cleaning, then we recommend you follow this in depth guide on grout cleaning.

If you need to clean your tile flooring and don’t know how, or if you’re just trying to make sure you’re doing it the right way, just keep on reading.

Start by vacuuming or sweeping the floor

Before you start using any type of treatment, you’ll want to first rid your floor of debris. This step is extremely important, as skipping it will result in wet gunky residue on your floor when the existing dust particles mix with the cleaning solution.

Depending on the type of floor you have, you might choose to use:

If you’ve been using the same cleaning method for years on your floor, then sticking with that method is probably just fine. Go ahead and clean your floors as usual with the method listed above.

However, if you have brand new flooring, it’s advisable to check your flooring company’s recommendations – or the tile manufacturer recommendations – to determine the best vacuuming or sweeping method for your tiles.

Be sure to thoroughly clean the entirety of your floor, paying special attention to hard-to-reach areas. You’ll want to consult the following list to be sure you’ve reached all of the necessary areas in this step of the process.

Under furniture

If you have elevated furniture – meaning it doesn’t sit flush on the ground on all sides – you’ll want to move your furniture around to be sure you clean underneath during the sweeping and vacuuming process.

Dust can accumulate near furniture legs, so take a second look to be extra certain there’s no pet fur, dust, or small items trapped underneath. You might need to use your vacuum’s pipe extension to get to hard-to-reach areas, or use a damp rag to wipe away debris.

Along the baseboards

Baseboards that run along the walls of your house can also have dirt and debris. As your air conditioning unit blows air throughout your home, pet fur, hair, and other tiny particles can get stuck along these crevices. It’s best to use your vacuum’s extension hose and flat nozzle so you can remove all the debris.

If you don’t have a vacuum, an extension, or if you choose to sweep instead, you can simply use a damp rag placed underneath the bottom of your broom and run it along the baseboards of your floor.

Under the toe kicks of your kitchen cabinetry

If you have cabinets with toe kicks – a recessed area at the cabinet’s base,  it’s very likely that there are debris too. So, be sure to double-check and clean this area too.

If there are large food particles, you might want to pick them up by hand or with a tissue because they can clog your vacuum. They can also gunk up in your broom. If you don’t spot huge chunks of food and dirt, a simple pass-through with a vacuum extension or your broom should do the trick!

In pantries and closets

If you have storage pantries or closets in the tiled areas of your home, you should also clean them. Oftentimes these areas are overlooked, but they’re a hotspot for debris!

Be sure to go through each one of them, and make sure they are spotless. You can use a vacuum or broom to clean these areas as you would the other areas of your floor.

What next?

After you’ve successfully vacuumed or swept your floors, you’re ready to move on to the next step. Choose your type of flooring from the list below and follow the instructions for either ceramic, porcelain, or tile.

How to clean your ceramic tile flooring

best way to clean tile floors

If you have ceramic tile flooring, you’re in luck! Ceramic tile is one of the easiest tiles to maintain. Most mild cleaners will work just fine. Still, it’s best to check your manufacturer recommendations, particularly if you’ve never put any chemical solution on your flooring.

Ceramic tiling is highly resistant to losing its shine, so you can rest assured that any mild cleaning solution is suitable. These step-by-step instructions are sure to help you get your floors as clean as possible.

  1. Grab a mop, wet-mop, or a microfiber duster. Don’t forget the recommended cleaning solution for your tiles.
  2. Start in a corner of your house and spray your flooring with the cleaning solution. (If you’re using a traditional mop, you can wet it in a bucket, your sink, or tub.)
  3. Work in small areas of about one square foot, move your mop in a back-and-forth motion to clean the surface of your tile.
  4. If  there is a tough grime spot, let it soak in a small amount of cleaning solution for thirty seconds or so. (Tougher spots might require manual removal.)
  5. Repeat this process throughout your tiled area, being careful to clean under furniture, along baseboards, under toe kicks of your cabinetry, and in pantries and closets.
  6. Give your tile time to air dry. Alternatively, use a towel to manually dry your floor.

When you’ve completed this process, your ceramic tile will look good as new!

How to clean your porcelain tile flooring

best way to clean tile floors

If you have porcelain tile flooring, you have a versatile floor that’s super easy to maintain, and is overall scratch and fade resistant. It’s super simple to clean this type of flooring with these easy steps.

  1. Grab a spray solution and your cleaning tool of choice.
  2. Spray your preferred cleaning solution to the floor.
  3. Move your cleaning tool along the surface of your floor, working in small areas. It’s useful to break up this job into square-foot areas in order to make sure you get all of the surfaces clean.
  4. If there’s any signs of grimes, pour a small amount of cleaning solution. Let it sit for thirty seconds or more.  Manual removal may be needed for tougher spots.
  5. Repeat steps 1-5 and make sure to also clean baseboards and under toe kicks of your cabinetry.
  6. Ideally, you should air dry the flooring. However, using a clean cloth or towel is recommended too.

When you’re done with this six-step process, your porcelain tile will be clean and free of grime and debris.

How to clean your natural stone tile flooring 

best way to clean tile floors

If you have natural stone flooring, you’ll want to check the tile manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations. Different chemical compounds can damage natural stone flooring, so don’t improvise here.

Although we highly recommend following the tile manufacturer’s suggestions, we have some general cleaning tips.

Of course, these are for your average run-of-the-mill flooring tiles in each category – specialty tiles are not included.

As a final note, you should keep in mind that natural stone flooring, although some of the most striking and beautiful floorings on the market, requires the most upkeep as compared to porcelain and ceramic. Even the smooth varieties can be tricky to keep clean.

Slate

Slate flooring is a gorgeous option in homes but requires a bit of special attention. Be sure to avoid lemon, bleach, and other strong chemicals. Just follow these steps to clean slate flooring, and prevent future damage.

  1. Use a steam mop with pH neutral cleaning solution. Make sure it is made specifically for slate flooring. If not, just use water. 
  2. For discolored slate, create a mixture of flour and water and let it sit for a few hours.
  3. Working in square-foot-sized areas, move your mop back-and-forth to clean the tiles’ surfaces.
  4. Repeat the process outlined in step four until you’ve cleaned the entire flooring. Don’t forget to clean hard to reach spots too.
  5. You can either let your slate tile air dry or use a towel.
  6. Once per year, you can apply a chemical sealant. The sealant will protect the slate, and keep it looking brand new.

Marble/granite

Marble and granite flooring are somewhat easy to maintain – it takes a bit more work than ceramic and porcelain, but not nearly as much work as slate.

  1. Use a soft mop with a cleaning solution meant for marble or granite flooring. You can also use a steamer for cleaning and disinfection.
  2. If your marble or granite is stained or discolored, use a mild detergent to remove the stain.
  3. Start in a corner of your house and spray your flooring with your cleaning solution.
  4. Working in small areas of about one square foot, move your mop in a back-and-forth motion to clean the surface of your tile.
  5. Repeat the previous step throughout all areas with marble or granite flooring. Make sure to clean under furniture, along baseboards, under toe kicks of your cabinetry, and in pantries and closets.
  6. Give your tile time to air dry. If you prefer, you can also use a towel to dry your floor by hand.
  7. Seal your flooring with a chemical sealant once every three to five years in order to keep your tile looking as clean as possible and to prevent premature fading.

Travertine

Travertine isn’t too difficult to maintain – it’s similar to marble and granite. Make sure you use the appropriate chemicals on the surface. You’ll want to follow these steps to make sure your travertine lasts long term.

  1. Use a soft mop with a travertine cleaning solution. Alternatively, you can use steam for disinfection.
  2. If there is any discoloration or staining, you can create a solution of equal parts baking soda and water.
  3. Spray the cleaning solution to the floor.
  4. Working in small areas. Clean the surface of your tile in a circular motion.
  5. Repeat step four for the entirety of your tiled area, being sure to check those grime-collecting spots.
  6. Let your travertine air dry. You can also use a dry towel.
  7. To keep it clean with minimal fading, you can use a chemical sealant. Only conduct sealing every three to five years.

Conclusion

Regular tile cleaning should be a part of your home maintenance routine, both to keep your tile looking as new as possible and to prevent premature fading of your investment.

For regular maintenance on your tile flooring, you’ll want to perform a two-step process.

Your first goal is to get rid of the existing dust and debris. Then, you’ll want to clean the surface of your tile with the recommended cleaning solution for the tile type.