5 Easy And Effective Methods For Cleaning Tile Floors

Tile floor scrubber spray  Rubbermaid / flickr Want a clean, healthy home but don’t have much time to housekeep? Then porcelain or ceramic tile floors are your best friend. Cleaning tile floors is simple if they’re glazed or sealed, because these finishes are highly stain- and moisture-resistant. You can even purchase antimicrobial floor tile.

Of course, any floor will require a certain amount of care, since you and your family constantly walk on it, tracking dirt, grit, and even mud. However, compared to other types of flooring, tile requires just a little maintenance to keep it looking great. Here’s what you need to do.

Mopping tile  Ewen Roberts / flickr

  1. Sweeping or vacuum cleaning tile floors

    Regular sweeping or vacuum cleaning of tile floors not only picks up surface dirt, but also keeps grit and sand from scratching the finish. I find a quick daily sweep with a dry Swiffer™cloth very effective. I also like my stick vacuum for fast cleanups, since it’s lightweight and easy to use on hair and dust.

  2. Mopping porcelain or ceramic tile floors

    Damp cleaning tile floors with a spin mop, an old-school string mop, or a microfiber spray mop works better than a sponge mop, which may push dirt into your grout.

    Use a mild soap that won’t harm your tile, change your wash water frequently, and dry the floor with an absorbent lint-free cloth (great way to recycle old T-shirts!).

    Drying may seem like an extra hassle but it’s worth it. You'll prevent water spots AND dirty footprints on your freshly mopped floor.

    DISINFECT: After cleaning ceramic or porcelain tile floors with soap and water, apply bleach mixed with water. (Clorox™ advises a 1:20 ratio.) Be sure your room is well-ventilated. Leave the solution on your tile for 5 minutes before rinsing.

  3. Waxing

    Some homeowners like to use wax to protect their tile’s finish and add a sheen. However, waxing a ceramic or porcelain tiled floor is sort of like painting a brick house – do it once, and you’re committed to upkeep from then on. That means buffing and reapplying the wax regularly, as well as occasionally stripping the old wax and starting afresh.

  4. Cleaning grout

    While cleaning tile floors is simple, cleaning grout is more of a headache. The mortar-like substance between your tiles will usually require some serious elbow grease. Spray grout with an acid-free cleaner, leave a few minutes, and then scrub with a long-handled grout brush. (Follow manufacturer’s instructions and test any new product in an inconspicuous area of your floor before use.) If stains remain, touch up with a grout pen.

  5. Machine cleaning

    When you’d like to spruce up your home for sale or just for your own family, clean your tile with a machine such as a tile and grout steam cleaner or a hard floor cleaner.
    Alternatively, hire a professional tile cleaner. I treated myself to this a few months, and it made my formerly blah kitchen floor look brand new.
    TIP: Have the tile cleaning service reseal your grout to keep that fresh new appearance.

Clean kitchen tile floor  Edna Winti / flickrHow often should you clean tile floors?

The recommended frequency for cleaning tile floors depends on:

  • Amount of traffic
  • Weather conditions, for a tiled entrance foyer
  • Type and design of tile

I’ve seen blogs that recommend cleaning tile floors weekly for bathrooms and once in two weeks (!!) for kitchens. Those bloggers must live in a Magic House where grime rarely enters. Personally, I prefer a home full of life on life’s terms: kids, pets, food, and mess. That’s why I end up cleaning my tile floors at least every other day, though that may involve just a quick touchup.

If you’d like to protect your tiled floors from dirt and wear (and reduce the need to clean so often), place rugs or floor mats at strategic spots. Used in areas where you do a lot of standing, such as next to the kitchen sink, these will also reduce backaches.

Footprints on tile floor  Jayca / flickr

Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

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