Monday, June 14, 2010

Cleaning Ceramic Tile Floors

I have been looking forward to writing this article. Over the years, I’ve received tons of questions on how best to clean ceramic tile floors. Even my aunt and I have had our differences on the best way to clean tile floors. She says vinegar and water and I say soap and water or peroxide cleaner. Who’s right?

Glazed Ceramic & Unglazed Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles come to two basic constructions; glazed and unglazed. A glazed tile is when the body of ceramic tile (called bisque) is coated with a glaze. The glaze coating is comprised of liquid colored glass and is fused to the surface of the bisque under very high temperatures. The liquid glass coating is what creates the texture, design and color of a glazed tile and protects the body of the tile from (bisque) staining.

Unglazed tiles have no glazing on the surface and are the real culprits for attracting dirt. The color of the bisque goes all the way through the tile. Unglazed tile is an excellent choice for most heavily trafficked areas because wear is not visible.

The beauty, elegance and durability of ceramic tile; whether glazed or unglazed, has made it a favorite flooring choice. It makes a stunning addition to any home. It also offers a seemingly endless variety of style options with many textures, patterns and sizes to choose from. Best of all, ceramic tile is super easy to clean and maintain.

Three easy steps in getting the floors looking their best are:

Step One:

It is important to sweep or vacuum regularly to remove loose dirt. Be sure that the vacuum does not have the beater bar attachment on. A beater bar is meant for carpets only and will damage the ceramic floor. Using a vacuum and its attachments are perfect for collecting dirt along edges/corners and in between tiles.

Step Two:

Mop floors. For allergy sufferers and people looking for sustainable methods of cleaning floors you will be happy to hear that the best way to clean ceramic tile is with warm soapy water. Sometimes water alone will do the trick. Liquid dish soap is a mild household detergent and is a non-toxic cleaning product. My favorite is that it’s inexpensive! Another inexpensive household all-purpose cleaner is a combination of vinegar and water. Making sure to change the water often. Too much soap or dirty water will make floors dull or sticky.

Cleaning stains out of grout can test your patience. A simple, inexpensive way to clean grout is with a mixture of peroxide and water. CAUTION: NEVER USE peroxide on colored grout. Peroxide may discolor them like bleach would. Hydrogen peroxide is considered a “safe” bleach. Colored grout can be cleaned with; get this, shaving cream. To avoid any problems, first test in a hidden area, really well hidden.

What type of mop to use? I am partial to microfiber mops. Microfiber picks up and traps dust, dirt, pet hair and grease inside the grooves of the fiber. It is environmentally friendly. It also uses a minimum amount of water on the floor. Microfiber mop pads can also be used on all floor surfaces and are machine washable; helps cut costs down.

Step Three:

After cleaning, rinse floor with clean warm water and wipe dry. Enjoy the beautiful shine.

Helpful tidbits:

- Use walk-off mats to minimize and contain dirt being tracked in at entryways. By using walk-off mats the amount of dirt being tracked in is reduced. Walk-off mats also reduces the wear to the finished surface. Just don’t forget to shake the mats often.
- Do not use steel wool, scouring pads/powders or other abrasives. These products can scratch the finish of the tile.
- Do not use bleach or ammonia based cleaners. These products can discolor the grout if used on a regular bases.
- Do not clean glazed tile with an oil-based cleaner.

In the end, it just so happens, that neither my aunt or myself were wrong in our preferred choice of cleaning ceramic tile. I just hope she doesn’t read that. I’d hate for her to gloat!

If you have any comments or suggestions on cleaning ceramic tile, I would love to hear from you. Send me an email at

No comments:

Post a Comment