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How to Clean Ceramic Tiles

Keep your ceramic tiles in great condition with this easy guide. Find out how to clean, remove stains, and prevent your ceramic tiles from ageing here.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

Dirty which needs steam cleaning, read on to learn how to use a steam cleaner

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.

Don’t forget – Always read the instructions on a cleaning product before use, and test on a hidden part of the surface first.

Some people will recommend vinegar or similar substances for cleaning ceramic tile, however, these acid-based agents can dull the tiles sheen. To avoid this, use neutral or alkaline agents, such a Cif Cream Cleaner, which is powerful at cleaning ceramic but gentler on your tiles.

Cleaning Glazed Ceramic Tiles

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 long-left soap scum can prove near impossible to remove.

  1. First, gently brush or wipe the tiles to remove any grit that may scratch the finish. Vacuum cleaners are usually to be avoided since most attachments can scratch.

  2. Mix up a mild solution of non-acidic detergent and water. (Cif is a good example.)

  3. 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.)

  4. Scrub the grouting with a small nylon brush. The grouting will collect most of the dirt, so it’s easy to damage it with lots of scrubbing if the brush is hard. An old toothbrush is ideal.

  5. Change the solution for plain warm water and rinse with the mop.

  6. 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 Unglazed Ceramic Tiles

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.

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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.

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 color.

  • Determine what type of tile you have.

  • Select the appropriate cleaning agent and follow the steps above.

  • Don’t forget to clean the grout!

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on how to clean ceramic tiles

How do you clean unglazed terracotta floor tiles?

An untreated terracotta tile is highly porous so you should clean unglazed terracotta floor tiles with care. Sweep them regularly to remove surface dirt. If you do find that there is ground in dirt on your tiles scrub them gently with a soft brush and a small amount of clean water. Never use abrasive cleaners or hard scrubbing brushes as these could cause irreparable damage to your tiles.

How do you clean abrasive ceramic tiles?

The solution for how to clean abrasive tiles is to use 3 cups of baking soda and 1 cup of water. First, mix your ingredients together to make a paste. Apply this to your tiles using a damp toothbrush. Leave for a short while the wipe away with a clean, damp cloth.

How do you clean cloudy ceramic tiles?

The steps for how to clean cloudy tile surfaces is simple. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water together. Dampen a sponge in your solution and use this to clean the tiles.

How do you clean porous tile floors?

There are five key steps for how to clean porous tile floors. First, start by sweeping up loose debris. Next, combine 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent and 1 gallon of warm water and dip a microfiber mop into the solution. Third, wring out excess liquid and mop the floor. Then use clean, warm water to mop away detergent residue and rinse your floor. Finally, use clean cotton towels to dry your tiles.

Originally published