Reader Question: Cleaning Ceramic Tile Floors

tile flooring


Question: I read all of the articles regarding cleaning of ceramic floors and saw not to use ammonia or harsh detergents but what should I use? And how do I make them shine?

Answer: From the question you posed, it seems you already know what NOT to do in caring for a ceramic tile floor (no harsh abrasives, no ammonia-based products), but here is what you SHOULD do to clean and maintain your floor. First of all, sweep the floor frequently to loosen and remove dirt particles. You can vacuum the floor, but only use a vacuum without a beater bar (which could dull and scratch the tile). Use walk-off mats at entry points to collect tracked-in dirt. Regularly damp-mop the floor with a product specifically created for ceramic tile (example: Armstrong’s Once’n’Done® Floor Cleaner for ceramic floors.) You can visit for more information. Feel free to spot clean spills with a sponge and mild soap. Rinse well with clear water and wipe dry.

As to your question about adding shine to your floor, if your ceramic tile is glazed, it
already has a sheen to it that will not dull as long as proper maintenance is followed. Glazed tile
should NEVER be waxed. The purpose of the glaze is to give you a maintenance-free floor.
What you can do to keep the tile looking new is to mop with a solution of a small amount of
vinegar in warm water. That will cut through any greasy film or build-up (especially in kitchen
areas) and bring your tile back to its original shine. Be sure to do a clear water rinse to complete
the maintenance.

And thanks for a great question.

Annette Callari, A.S.I.D.; CMG

Top 10 things you should make sure your housekeeper knows about your floors

1.       Vinegar and water is not a good cleaner to clean every type of flooring. In fact, vinegar can eat away at the sealers on floors like natural stone.

2.       Furniture should not be dragged across the floors when moving to vacuum or clean under the furniture. This can cause permanent scratches that cannot be removed.

3.       Hardwood floors should not be generously mopped with soap and water. Water can make hardwood expand and then contract leaving cracks or gaps in the floor.

4.       Sponge mops, rag mops nor steam mops should be used to clean hardwood floors. Mops with terry cloth heads should be used instead. These mops are specially designed to clean hardwood floors.

5.       Vacuums with beater bars should not be used to clean every type of carpet. Shags and other carpets need vacuums without beater bars.

6.       Stairs should be vacuumed regularly. These are easy to ignore because they are hard to clean, but they are just as important as the rest of the house.

7.       The dirt from walk off mats at each entrance should be cleaned in order not to track in more dirt after the floors are clean. There’s no point in cleaning the floors if you are just going to track in more dirt when you walk back in the house!

8.       Bleach should not be used to clean grout.  Bleach can permanently discolor grout.

9.       Multiple cleaners should not be used on top of each other. This can cause build up and haze issues.

10.   If possible, the best cleaners to use on floors are the ones that are approved by the manufacturer. If you are unsure of who the manufacturer is – your best bet is to use a cleaner that is specifically designed for use on each individual type of floor.