Tile Care and Maintenance
Floor tiles are known for their water resistance and ease of maintenance, unlike other types of surface materials. Though it's not necessary to clean up the floor tiles each time you wipe your countertop, it's still important to check them for any obvious signs of dirt and stains. Remember to keep an eye on dirty grout lines, cracked edges and hazy films as these are strong indicators that your floor tiles may need some more serious work than just sweeping.
How to Clean Tile Floors
Certain types of floor tiles may require specialized cleaning techniques though many of them may only need sweeping and soft scrubbing as part of routine cleaning. Ceramic or porcelain tile maintenance, for instance, is less labor-extensive as opposed to porous tiles. Natural stones such as marble, slate, and granite require a more systematic cleaning technique, which is often supported with sealers and mechanical devices. Floor tiles will need basic sweeping or vacuum cleaning to remove dirt and small particles prior to the application of different cleaning solutions.
With regard to glazed tiles, only use an all-purpose cleaner that is safe for grout cleaners. Alternatively, you can use multipurpose cleaning sprays to remove water stains, mildews, and soap deposits using soft scrubbers. As a general rule, mop the tile floors at least once a week for less-traffic areas. For home locations with high occupancy rate or moist content, clean your floor tiles at least twice or thrice a week using a mild detergent.
For regular cleaning of unglazed tiles, it's recommended to use manufacturer-approved tile cleaners with neutral acid contents. These can help remove oil spills and chemicals safely without damaging the tile surface, but be sure to augment the cleaning process with a non-abrasive stone cleaner.
You can follow these simple suggestions on how to clean floor tiles according to material type.
- Consider using a neutral-based cleaning detergent to loosen up that embedded dirt on the tile surface and grout.
- You can use professional-grade mechanical cleaning brushes since they are capable of cleaning the deep-rooted fill areas and grout pores without causing any damages to the natural stone.
- Rinse thoroughly and prepare the natural stone for sealing.
- Seal the fill areas, grout lines, and tile surface in a clockwise direction.
- Clean the tile surface with a dry mop to remove particles, which may potentially damage the tiles.
- Use warm water with mild detergent and wipe each tile using a soft cloth. Remember to remove excess water immediately as standing water may cause stain on the granite.
- Consider using cleaning solutions intended for granite and other natural stones if you haven't washed the tiles for a long time.
- Use grout cleaners that are safe for granite. Be sure to check the product label thoroughly as many grout cleaners are made abrasive, which can cause damages on your granite floors.
- Prepare the clay tile floors by sweeping or vacuum cleaning to remove all dirt and debris.
- Similar to other types of tile, use mild cleaning agents as directed and remove them with soft cleaning brushes or scrubbers. This may require some additional work since clay tiles are made softer than other tile materials.
- Extract excess dirty water after a thorough scrubbing.
- Sweep the tile floors once again to make sure that dirt is removed before applying the tile sealer.
- Apply two or more coats of cleaners if the clay tiles are heavily exposed to the weather.
Porcelain or Ceramic Tile
- Remove loose debris by regular sweeping or vacuum cleaning to prevent your ceramic tiles from getting dull. Regular sweeping may be effective in removing dirt, but sand and grit can deeply penetrate the grout and tile surface.
- Clean the floor tiles with warm water and mild detergent and then wipe them with a rag-style mop. A rag-style mop is more suitable than a sponge mop since the latter tends to push dirt and dirty water deep into the grout.
- Rinse the surface thoroughly and prepare it for grout sealing.
- Use only penetrating sealers which are manufacturer-approved and generally safe for all types of ceramic tiles. As an alternative, you can use colored sealers, which allow you to change the color of your grout lines.
Natural Stone (slate, limestone or marble):
- Choose an appropriate cleaning solution that contains non-toxic materials or has neutral acidity levels. Other gentle cleaning solutions include water-and-vinegar mixture or water-and-baking soda solution, which is proven to remove deep stains and water deposits.
- Use soft cleaning materials whether you prefer to use a scrubber or a mop. Hard bristled brushes tend to damage the natural stone through some brush materials are safe for flamed or honed stone tiles.
- Consider applying manufacturer-approved stone sealers after you have thoroughly rinsed the tile surface.
General Cleaning Tips:
- Clean your floor tiles in a systematic approach. Start cleaning the tiles from one corner and then move on either direction until you reach the other corner then move down to the next row of tiles.
- If you're using a spray cleaner, spray on each tile and wipe the solution off before proceeding to the next tile.
- Ventilate your working area by keeping the windows open, particularly if you will use cleaning agents and stone sealers to avoid inhaling the fumes.
- Maintain a regular cleaning schedule for both general cleaning and periodical tile maintenance where you need to apply sealants.
Tips for Preventive Damage
- Apply grout sealers after the tiles have been installed. Make sure to use cleaning solutions which are compatible with your current grout line.
- Test tile sealers and cleansers on small areas before applying them throughout the area. This enables you to see how the product would react to the surface.
- Rinse the surface with clean water to get rid of excess chemicals. Don't use recycled water as this may potentially damage the tiles. It's recommended to prepare a number of water buckets before you start cleaning to prevent water from standing too long.
- Have your broken tiles replaced or removed with appropriate tools like grinder and tile remover.
- Hire the services of a professional contractor if you want to install natural stone tiles.
- Hire a professional cleaning company since they often use motorized brushes and air movers to remove dirt effectively.
- Invest on protective pads under the furniture or high-quality floor mats as an added protection for your floor tiles.
- Wipe food, chemicals, and beverage spills immediately before they stain the tile surface or grout.
- Leftover tiles and unused grout sealers should be kept secure for future use.
What to Avoid (The Do's and Don'ts)
- Don't use tile cleaners containing high amounts of bleach and toxic substances for general maintenance.
- Avoid using abrasive sponges, mops, or scrubbers.
- Avoid oil-based, wax-based cleaning solutions, especially on unglazed tiles.
- Don't use excessive water to remove the cleaning solution as this can leave water unnoticed.
- Never use steel wool brushes or any cleaning materials that use steel wires.
Regular cleaning and re-sealing can help prolong the lifespan of your floor tiles, but these will depend on traffic and proper care. With appropriate maintenance routine, you can definitely expect your floor tiles to look great for many years.
- Dale Basilla