Ceramic tiles look lovely in the kitchen or bathroom, but when it comes to cleaning, they’re a little more delicate than other surface materials. To keep stains and general wear and tear under control, and your tiles looking their best – follow our ceramic tile cleaning tips and maintenance advice.
Cleaning Ceramic Tiles: Glazed
Ceramic tiles come in two types: glazed and unglazed. The first has been fired so that a layer of glass forms on top, making it smooth, durable, and all but stain-proof. However, regular, light cleaning is still essential to avoid build up of grime. This holds especially for floors where grit can wear down the shine, and in the shower where build ups of soap scum can prove near impossible to remove.
- First, gently brush or wipe the tiles to remove any grit that may scratch the finish. Vacuum cleaners should usually be avoided since most attachments can scratch.
- Mix up a mild solution of non-acidic cleaning detergent and water. (Jif Floor Cleaner is a good example – just follow the instructions on the label.)
- Mop the floor with the solution, working out any stubborn areas with a soft cloth if necessary. (A cloth or rag mop is preferable to sponge.)
- Scrub the grouting with a small nylon brush or an old toothbrush to remove dirt. Be gentle as it’s easy to damage the grout with lots of scrubbing if the brush is too hard.
- Change the solution for plain warm water and rinse with the mop.
- If desired, buff with a clean rag to get those tiles shining!
To clean tile walls, follow the same steps but with a cloth or non-metallic scouring pad instead of a mop.
Cleaning Ceramic Tiles: Unglazed
With no protective layer of glass, unglazed tiles are more difficult to clean. First, their porous surface traps grime much better than their glazed counterparts, and they aren’t nearly as resistant to stains. Second, the vulnerability of the naked clay limits the strength and type of cleaner that can be used. The answer is to use a strong but neutral-pH cleaner.
Additionally, if you find yourself cleaning ceramic tiles often, consider having them sealed. This will increase the durability and stain-resistance of the tiles, though won’t remove the need for regular cleaning altogether. Tiles should also be resealed periodically, around once or twice a year.
Always read the instructions on a cleaning product before use, and test on a hidden part of the surface first.
How to Clean Ceramic Tile: Grout
Grout holds your ceramic tiles together but unfortunately holds moisture, stains, and dirt extremely well too. Even if you clean your tiles well, your initially pristine, white grouting can quickly become grey and dingy.
If it isn’t already, the first thing to do is get your grout sealed. (Tile-layers will often seal tile and grout at once.) Make sure to avoid a silicone seal that extends over the tile surface itself – this can ruin the glossy finish and will often wear off in patches.
If your grout is already dirty, all is not lost – grout staining products are available from most DIY or home maintenance stores, and these can help to restore some of the original colour.