Because of the success of What Feeding the Bears and Ruining Your Hardwood Floors has in Common, today will begin a series of maintenance guides for all types of floor covering. Stay tuned for more!

Tile Maintenance

Sooner or later, time and traffic, life and living, will take its toll on any floor covering. Ceramic tile is no exception. But take heart, keeping your tile as clean and beautiful as its first days in your home just takes know-how. In fact, understanding the best methods to care for your ceramic flooring will help maintain its beauty and keep it close to its original condition. Plus, knowing what’s expected of you regarding upkeep can be a determining factor in which type of ceramic tile to purchase. Knowing how to care for and maintain your ceramic floor will help keep your investment beautiful, durable and a source of pride for years to come.

§ It’s important to sweep a tile floor regularly. Dirt can adhere to the surface of tile, particularly styles with a textured surface. Regular sweeping loosens and removes most of this dirt. Vacuum attachments are useful to collect dirt along edges or in between tiles.


§ Use walk-off mats at all exterior entrances. This helps to minimize and contain dirt being tracked in at entryways.

§ Remember to shake the mats often to remove the dirt. If the dirt is not removed, it will be tracked back in and may scratch the floors. This reduces the amount of dirt being tracked across the tile floor, and reduces the wear to the finished surface. Also, be aware that black rubber mats can stain floors.


§ Ceramic tile floors should be damp-mopped regularly using the manufacturer’s recommended grout and tile cleaners. For heavier soil, you can spot clean the floor with a sponge or clean cloth using the recommended cleaners. Rinse well and wipe dry for more shine.


§ Textured tiles may require mild scrubbing with a soft brush or electric polisher/scrubber. After cleaning with a mild detergent rinse thoroughly with clean, warm water to help remove any leftover residue. If needed, wipe dry with a clean towel to remove any film.

§ For soft water situations you may need to use an all-purpose cleaner. Apply to the floor, let stand for 3 – 5 minutes, lightly scrub with a sponge, rinse well and you’re home free – dirt free too.

§ Use cleaning products available from your local grocery store or flooring retailer for heavier cleaning tasks. Products are available that can be used to remove soap scum, hard water deposits, and mildew stains.

§ Consult the cleaning product’s instructions to make sure the cleaning product is compatible with your type of tile. The wrong type cleaning product can do more damage than good.

§ After cleaning, rinse well and wipe dry. This is important for optimum shine and maximum pride.


§ Avoid using steel wool, scouring powders, or other abrasives. These can scratch the finish of the tile. Also, do not use vinegar as it is an acid.

§ Don’t use bleach or ammonia based cleaners. These products can permanently discolor your grout if used too often.

§ Do not clean glazed tile with oil-based cleaners. This can leave a hazy film on the tile.

§ Try to clean up spills as quickly as possible. This is important so that the grout or tile doesn’t become stained.

§ Tile can crack under extreme force or pressure. While ceramic tile is considered very durable, it’s not indestructible and may crack or chip under extreme force.

§ Take the proper precautions when moving heavy objects across your tile floor. Get a small army to help you move that grand piano. Once the damage is done, it cannot be repaired.

§ Cover furniture and table legs with protectors. This will guard your floor against damage.

§ Keep extra tiles after the installation. Keep in mind that if a repair is necessary in the future, the replacement product may be a slightly different dye lot and/or texture than the initial installation. However, the good news is that, with time and usage, the repair will blend in with the original product.


§ Areas exposed to water need to be caulked on a regular basis. Once the tile has been laid and grouted, it’s your responsibility to maintain areas exposed to water by caulking. Caulking will prevent expensive subsurface damage, as well as keep the tiled areas looking their best. Depending on your lifestyle, sealing new tile and grout may be an option.

§ Seal your grout for added protection. After the installation process is complete and the grout has had ample time to cure, sealing the grout and tile can provide protection from dirt and spills by slowing down the staining process. Please note that sealing is not required on glazed tiles.

§ Grout colorants are available for stained, damaged or undesired colored grout. Today there are also innovative grout colorants you should be aware of. These products can transform the original color of grout and in some cases can act as a form of sealant. Please be aware that non-epoxy grout joints should be treated with a silicone sealer.

§ Consult the manufacturers’ recommendations. For more maintenance information specific to your ceramic tile flooring, remember to ask a professional or the manufacturer.

For more information on how to clean ceramic tile, click here.

Posted Thursday, February 21st, 2008 at 4:32 pm
Filed Under Category: Flooring Maintenance
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Response to “The Right Way to Clean Ceramic Tile”

Ellie Montalvo

I am getting my ceramic tiles cleaned and the grout sealed and the professionals are using different methods:
1. High pressure washer w/chemical and a color sealer for the grout.
2. A truck mounted hot water extraction system (also used for carpets) and a grout sealant (tubing)
3. Hand scrubbing w/a grout sealant that claims is good for 5 yrs.

Which method is better to clean my ceramic tile?
Which grout sealant is better?

The price per square foot is the same for the 3 professionals.

Thanks for your input!!

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