Ceramic tile’s superior performance means less mess and more peace of mind. Ceramic tile is low-maintenance, moisture-resistant, scratch-resistant, and stain-resistant, so whatever life throws on your surfaces, you’re ready for it.
Easy Regular Maintenance
Ceramic tile is extremely low-maintenance. Unlike many other surface materials, ceramic tile offers options that are:
- Stain-resistant: Your life is bound to see many messes—ceramic tile doesn’t stain easily!
- Water-resistant: Liquid spills can ruin other materials.
- Scratch-resistant: Dents, scrapes, and cuts often seen in other materials aren’t the same danger for ceramic tile, even after years of heavy use.
- Inhospitable to microbes: Ceramic tile’s fired surface means that the bacteria, mold, and mildew cannot settle and grow.
- Easy to clean: You can easily clean ceramic tile merely by sweeping and/or washing with water.
- Fade-resistant: Ceramic tile does not fade, so you can feel free to redecorate and move your furniture at any time.
Well-known for being easy to clean, you can still benefit from some ceramic tile cleaning know-how. Here are some tips:
Step one in caring for your ceramic tile is to simply sweep away dirt and debris that may be tracked in by our feet (or paws) each day. If you are using throw rugs, it’s a good idea to clean throw rugs regularly, whether in the washing machine or by shaking them thoroughly outside. Likewise, for your ceramic tile countertops, be sure to brush off any crumbs or other debris from the counter, just as you would the floor.
Sweeping gives you the cleanest start possible for any further cleaning or disinfecting necessary.
Wipe with Water
After sweeping, wipe down tile with a cloth and clean, clear water. Yes, all that’s needed is clean water to wipe up most messes! Because ceramic tile is nonporous, wiping it down is usually sufficient to remove lightly soiled surfaces. Be sure to thoroughly dry afterward.
When Water Is Not Enough
Life happens, and sometimes things end up on your tile that you cannot sweep away or wipe off with water. Grease from cooking is a common culprit. Or, you may want to disinfect your surfaces. If you find that you do need something more than water to clean up, use a neutral cleaner that’s formulated especially for grout and tile. Do not use oil or wax-based cleaners, as they will leave a residue on your tile and grout that then attracts dirt more readily.
Types of Tile and Grout Cleaners
Alkaline, acidic, and neutral are the three categories of cleaners. Alkaline means that the pH is higher than 7, acidic is less than 7, and neutral pH is 7.
Alkaline cleaners have a high pH of at least 12, which is very caustic. Use this type of cleaner when you need to remove stubborn grease or other substances that will not come off with water alone. With a pH of 12, bleach is an example of an alkaline cleaner and should not be used on tile and grout on a regular basis. While alkaline cleaners will not harm tile or grout when used occasionally, they can strip away sealant from the grout over time and you may need to eventually rejuvenate your sealant. Alkaline cleaners may also chemically burn your skin so wear gloves and avoid splashing. Thoroughly rinse any cleaner from the surface and do not allow residue to dry on the tile and grout.
Acidic cleaners are corrosive, but in a different way than alkaline cleaners. The acid reacts with the alkaline cement in grout, dissolving a thin top layer and exposing the clean grout below. While these cleaners may appear to clean well, most manufacturers do not recommend them because of the eroding effect. Acidic tile and grout cleaners should only be used by professionals when removing and replacing grout.
Neutral cleaners with a pH of 7 (just like water) are the most gentle for tile and grout. Consider cleaners made specifically for tile and grout first when water isn’t enough, or turn to a mildly alkaline detergent (i.e., Mr. Clean, Spic and Span). Note that neutral cleaners are the only cleaners recommended for colored grout.
So, now you know that water is king when it comes to cleaning tile. But what if the grout has mildew or other stains despite your diligence? Scrubbers made of nylon or plastic do a great job of removing stains from grout.
If your grout has mildew stains that you cannot scrub out, water may have gotten into the grout, perhaps because the sealant has worn down. In cases like this, you can rent a steam cleaner that will bring the stains to the surface of the grout, where you can clean them off. The last resort is to remove and replace the grout, but consider consulting with an expert beforehand to determine the best course of action.
Unlike many other surface materials, ceramic tile won’t fade or dull from harsher cleaning chemicals and disinfectants, should you need to use them occasionally. The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of registered cleaning disinfectants you can consult. Should you not have any of these registered products, some common household products—including simple soap and water—can also be effective disinfectants. Each cleaning agent may be more or less effective towards a particular virus or bacteria.
Ceramic tile is simple to maintain and keep clean as long as you follow the basics. Keep these tips handy with this foldable download tip sheet. Sweep and wipe down with clean water at least weekly, or as necessary. When you need more cleaning power, stick to neutral or mild alkaline cleaners specially formulated for tile and grout. Last but not least, rinse thoroughly, making sure to remove all residue and dry the area well.
Follow these guidelines and your ceramic tile and grout will stay sparkling clean!
Can I use dishwashing detergent for cleaning tile and grout?
Thick cleaners such as dishwashing detergent are difficult to rinse off thoroughly. Any residue left from the soap can attract and trap dirt in the grout.
What is the best cleaner to use on tile and grout?
A neutral or mild alkaline cleaner specially formulated for tile and grout.
How can I prevent my grout from staining or getting dirty?
One word — sealant. Unless your grout has a self-sealant or is epoxy, sealant is helpful to prevent staining. Two different types of sealant are available: topical and penetrating. As the names suggest, one type stays on the surface, and the other soaks in. For walls, counters, and backsplashes, a topical sealant may suffice because of the protection it offers, but this type can be worn off by foot traffic. The grout on floor tiles should be a penetrating sealant to withstand foot traffic.
I’m trying to use natural products. Can I use baking soda and vinegar to clean my tile?
Vinegar is an acid and can dissolve the cement on grout. Like baking soda, cement is alkaline and will dissolve in acids in the same way, even if sealed. Only use products formulated for use on tile and grout. The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) has a list of companies that manufacture products specific to tile cleaning.