How to Clean Tiles



Cleaning and Maintaining Tiles

To keep your wall or floor in good condition there it is important to clean and maintain tiles. Routine cleaning will hopefully prevent you having to use strong chemicals. If difficult stains do occur which cannot be removed by regular cleaning then more specialist treatment including chemicals and hard scrubbing with abrasive materials can be used as a last resort. This guide provides a general overview of tile cleaning.

First of all, any spillages and surface marks that do occur should be cleaned as quickly as possible to prevent the stain from penetrating through the surface of the tile. Keep absorbent cloths handy to clean up dirt or food spillages. Even marks you may deem rather trivial like dirty footprints on conservatory or porch floors can become embedded into tiles to leave a stain so it is recommended you remove them straight away with a clean damp cloth if possible.

Try not to let your tiles get too dirty in the first place. General cleaning and maintenance can be carried out on a regular basis, using simple and cost effective methods. The same methods can apply to either natural stone or manufactured tiles and these include:**

Dusting, sweeping & vacuuming to clean and maintain tiles

Use a dust mop, soft brush or vacuum to remove any surface dirt and dust. Hard to reach areas such as beneath cabinets can be cleaned with a dustpan and brush. Thoroughly sweep tiled floors, removing any small pieces of debris as these can scratch tiles when people walk across the surface area.

Damp mopping and wiping

Once the surface of your tiled wall or floor has been swept clean it is then time to fully remove any remaining dirt and grime. This can be achieved at a low cost with a damp mop for floors or wet cloth for walls.

Mix warm water with a neutral cleaning solution together in a bucket. For floors, apply pressure with the mop on the tiled floor and replace water when it becomes dirty. For cleaning walls, wring out the cloth so it is not completely soaking and wipe the wall in a circular motion. You may not believe this will be enough to clean a tiled surface thoroughly but as long as it is carried out with regularity (once a fortnight if possible) then it should be sufficient in preventing you from using chemicals when cleaning. You should completely dry the tiled surface with a dry mop or cloth to avoid leaving streaks and water marks.

How to Clean Dirty Grout

Grout is porous and is therefore susceptible to becoming dirty and stained. Grease and food in kitchens as well as water and shower products in bathrooms can all affect the way grout looks in these rooms. Cleaning problem areas on a fairly regular basis is recommended if you want the grout between your tiles to remain in good condition. Before you use any of the cleaning products we recommend you should check first with your tile supplier to ensure they are suitable with the tiles you have bought. Also it is a good idea to test the cleaning product first before you go ahead with cleaning grout on an entire wall or floor. A good place to check if the cleaner is suitable for use on a particular tile is under a kitchen unit or even table, where it is not easily seen. If you have any spare tiles available then these can also be used for testing cleaning products.

Aside from specialist commercial grout cleaner the other products used for cleaning grout include baking soda, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide (oxygen bleach). You can also use a steam cleaner if necessary. Below we explain how to use each of these cleaning agents on grout lines.

How to Clean Grout with Baking Soda and Water

To clean with baking soda you can make a paste by adding a small amount of water. Rub it into the area of grout which requires cleaning and let it set for a few minutes. Then you should scrub with a stiff brush or even an old toothbrush, for thin grout lines, in a circular motion.

How to Clean Grout with Vinegar and Water

Mixing equal amounts of vinegar and water together can also produce an effective grout cleaner. Make sure you find out beforehand whether the tiles are suitable for cleaning with vinegar based products as some varieties are not. Follow the same method as instructed for applying baking soda by brushing in circles over the grout.

How to Clean Grout with Hydrogen Peroxide

Although standard chlorine-based bleach should be avoided for cleaning grout lines as they can lead to discolouring, oxygen bleach in the form of Hydrogen Peroxide can be used to good effect. It is available in a powder which should be mixed with water and then allowed to soak into the grout before cleaning commences.

Steam Cleaning Grout

You can also steam clean grout. Steam cleaning will help to remove any difficult dirt and grime which still remains after cleaning using the products and methods mentioned above. Remove surface dust and dirt with a clean cloth first before steam cleaning. If you are cleaning a wall then steam the grout lines by starting at the bottom or lowest point and working your way up. Generally, steam cleaning grout which is less than one year old is not recommended.

After cleaning, the grout lines should be allowed to dry and then sealed for added protection.

Recommended Cleaning Accessories

To protect against damage and discolouring caused by oil, moisture, dirt and limescale you can acquire this Grout Protector from Tilesporcelain.

How to Remove Stains from Tiles

Stains can affect the colour, pattern, style and ultimately the overall look of your tiles. To help prevent stains you can seal your tiles with a protective sealant. Stains, however, can still appear on the surface of the tile but don’t worry because there are a variety of methods and techniques that can be used to remove stains from tiles, which we explain in this section. We look at the ways in which stains can be removed from specific tiles.

Removing Stains from Slate Tiles

  • Washing soda (sodium carbonate)
  • Nylon Bristled Floor Brush
  • Bowl of water
  • Distilled water
  • Steel wool
  • Paper towels
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Lemon juice
  • Stone sealer
  • Limescale remover
  • Disposable paintbrush
  • Dustpan and brush
  • Wood scraping tool
  • Mild dish soap
  • Heavy duty alkaline cleaner/degreaser
  • Baking soda
  • Sponge mop

Slate is not as porous as many other forms of natural stone tiles and will therefore not absorb as much moisture. It is still recommended that you seal slate tiles to minimise the effects of staining. Below we explain how to remove stains from slate tiles. The most common slate stains are caused by water and oil. These two liquids can discolour the tile, thus affecting its aesthetic quality. Below we explain the different methods which are used in removing each type of stain.

Removing Water Marks from Slate

After mixing the washing soda and water in a bowl use the nylon bristled brush to scrub the stained tile. This area should then be rinsed with distilled water and dried straight away. If this hasn’t removed the stain completely then it may require a more rigorous method.

If the water mark still remains then you can rub steel wool over it in a circular motion. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the broken particles of steel as these will rust if left on the surface of the tile. If a stain still remains then it is time to move on to the next stage of cleaning.

Make a thick paste by mixing 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice with approximately 1/2 cup of water. Scrub this mixture into the tile with the nylon brush. Rinse the tile with distilled water and leave to dry for at least 48 hours.

You can also try using non-acidic limescale remover. Pour this over the marks and use the steel wool to rub it into the surface of the tile before cleaning with distilled water and drying with paper towels.

Remove Stains from Slate Tiles Caused by Oil

Clear any loose dirt and debris away from the surface of the tile with a dustpan and brush. If the oil is still wet then try and absorb as much of it as possible with paper towels but avoid rubbing the surface as this will cause the oil to penetrate deeper into the tile itself.

The aim is to draw out any oil that has penetrated through the tile. To do this, spread a layer of baking soda across the stain until it is completely covered and leave for ten minutes.

With a wood scraping tool scrape away the dry solution and scrub the area with the mild dish soap formula. Rinse with water and leave to dry.

If the stain has still not completely been removed then you can apply degreaser with a sponge or mop, before working it in with a scrub brush.

How to Remove Stains from Limestone and Travertine Tiles

  • Paper Towels
  • Mop and bucket
  • Mild dishwashing soap
  • Damp cloth
  • Towel
  • Bowl
  • 1 cup of diatomaceous earth
  • Water
  • Spoon
  • Rubber Spatula
  • Cling Film

Travertine and limestone are highly porous which is why sealing is imperative in the prevention of stains. Even after sealing, stains may still occur but there are ways in which these can be removed successfully. We have provided information on how to remove stains from limestone and travertine tiles:

Act Quickly to Remove stains from limestone and travertine

As soon as the stain begins to develop try to soak up as much liquid as possible with paper towels. Then pour dishwashing detergent into warm water before wiping over the stain with a mop. The stain may have faded on the surface but there is a chance it could have penetrated through the tile itself.

Stain Removal Mixture

To draw the stain out of the tile completely you will need to mix diatomaceous earth with another solution, depending on what type of stain it is. For grease stains mix diatomaceous earth with water. For organic stains like tea and coffee it should be mixed with hydrogen peroxide.

Applying the Mixture to a Stained Tile

Mix one cup of diatomaceous earth in a bowl with the specified substance – in accordance with the recommendations above – and stir them together with a spoon. This should make a thick paste. This paste should then be applied over the stain with a spatula, ensuring it overlaps the stain by around 1/2 an inch. You should then cover this area with cling film before leaving it for 48 hours, in which time the paste will dry and hopefully the stain will have been drawn into it. Then peel away the cling film and scrape off the paste with the spatula. If the stain has faded but has not been completely removed then this process can be repeated again. Finally, you should wipe the stained area with a cloth before drying with a towel.

Removing Stains from Granite and Marble Tiles

  • Baking soda/Flour and liquid soap
  • Distilled Water
  • Soap and water
  • Sponge pad
  • Towel
  • Plastic wrap
  • Tape

Granite and marble tiles and worktops are a popular option for kitchens and bathrooms. Natural stone is porous and although sealing makes the surface impermeable up to a point, it can still be prone to absorbing stains. You can remove stains from granite and marble tiles by using everyday solutions like baking soda, flour and liquid soap. We have provided two examples of how stains can be removed.

First Way to Remove Stains from Granite and Marble Tiles

Firstly, blot the stain with a sponge pad to remove as much of it as possible before spraying the stain with distilled water. Combine baking soda with water and mix it into a consistent paste. Spread this paste across the stain, covering it entirely and overlapping it by at least a 1/4 of an inch. Place plastic wrap over the stain, taping it down onto the surface around its corners, and leave it covered for 24 hours. In this time the paste will have dried. Now remove the plastic wrap and the paste should pull away most, if not all of the stain. Now wash area with soap and water before drying with a towel. If the stain remains you can repeat this process.

Second Way to Remove Stains from Granite and Marble Tiles

Exactly the same method can be used when applying a combination of flour, liquid soap and distilled water to the stain. For this, you should mix one cup of unbleached flour with three tablespoons of non-bleach dishwashing detergent and add water to form a paste. Follow the same instructions as detailed for applying the baking soda and remember if the stain is not completely removed at the first attempt you can repeat this method.

Removing Stains from Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles
  • Neutral Tile Cleanser
  • Scrub brush
  • Water
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Stain remover suitable for porcelain and ceramic
  • Cling film

In this guide we illustrate ways in which you can remove stains from porcelain and ceramic tiles. Unlike natural stone tiles, there is generally less chance of stains penetrating through the surface of porcelain and ceramic tiles and into the tile itself. Stains, however, can still appear on the surface of these manmade tiles and it is advisable to treat these as soon as possible.

On shiny polished or glazed porcelain and ceramic surfaces a stain can sometimes be removed by simply wiping with a cloth or mop and soapy water. You can attempt this first before trying any specialist products. For stains that cannot be removed by this method apply tile cleanser to the stain with a scrub brush in a circular motion. Rinse the area with a small quantity of warm water and dry with a lint-free cloth.

Follow the instructions on the bottle of stain remover and apply it to the stain accordingly. Cover the solution with cling film and leave for one hour. Finally, wipe away the stain remover with a cloth and clean water before drying the tile.

Before using the method above there are steps you can take in treating the stain depending on what product has caused the mark on your tile. These techniques may not remove the stain completely but should help to fade it. Here are some guidelines:

Coffee stains can be wiped with a damp cloth and a mixture of water and baking soda. This should be thoroughly rinsed with clean water before further cleaning commences.

You can initially treat fruit juice stains with bleach and hot water but once again make sure this is thoroughly wiped from the tile with clean water to ensure that no residue remains.

A stiff brush can be used on grease to disperse large clumps before removing the stain itself with a cleaning solution.

If you have spilled paint on ceramic or porcelain tiles then you can treat it first with turpentine or paint thinner to deal with the surface layer.

On floors, scuffs from shoes can sometimes be a problem. These can be wiped away with a mop, hot water and neutral cleaning agents.

Hints and tips on how to Remove Stains from Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles

Always test a cleaning product on a spare tile first

Follow the instructions on the packaging of cleaning products carefully

Always rinse the cleaning agent from the tile thoroughly with clean water at the end of the process.

How To Polish a Tiled Floor

Polished tiles have a desirable reflective quality making areas appear bright and vibrant. Polished tiled floors can sometimes lose this glossy appearance over time with foot traffic and general cleaning. There are techniques that can be deployed to restore your tiles back to their former glory. Both natural stone and engineered tiles can be polished. Granite tiles generally have a polished finish and there are specialist products on the market which we recommend you use for polishing granite. Remember to always follow the instructions on the packaging. For other tiles there are different ways in which you can polish them. For information and advice on how to polish a tiled floor with regards to specific material click on one of the links above.

How To Polish Travertine and Limestone Tiles

  • Stone Filler
  • Power cleaner
  • Electric floor polisher
  • Clean water
  • Sandpaper
  • Steel wool
  • Dustpan and brush
  • Impregnating sealer

Polished Travertine and Limestone tiles can sometimes become dull looking over time. To rejuvenate your travertine and limestone tiles polishing is a very good idea as this will enhance the colour and overall look of your floor. Below we explain how to polish travertine and limestone tiles.

Firstly fill any cracks or holes in the tiles with stone filler by following the instructions on the packet. Travertine and limestone are very porous and the build up of dust and dirt can be a problem which is why we recommend using a power cleaner to clean the tiles thoroughly. Use a neutral solution for cleaning the tiles.

With an electric floor polisher polish the entire floor. Start with 120 grit sandpaper, gradually moving onto finer grades. Next use 220 grit before using 400 grit and finally 600 grit. Sand the entire floor with each grit before moving onto the finer grade.

Now use the electric floor polisher with steel wool as the polishing tool instead of sandpaper. With clean water, wet a small area of the floor at a time and buff with the steel wool. After buffing the floor allow to dry and sweep up any steel wool with a dust pan and brush to avoid rusting.

Finally apply an impregnating sealer by following the instructions on the packaging.

How To Polish Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles

Porcelain and ceramic tiles are engineered products. They can each be polished to retain the shine associated with these tiles. Below you'll find guidelines with regards to how to polish porcelain and ceramic tiles.

Polishing Ceramic tiles
  • Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • Large spray bottle or bucket
  • Water
  • Mop

A glazed ceramic tile can lose it’s shine over the years. Polishing them can improve the appearance of ceramic tiles greatly.

Sweep the floor, removing any dirt and dust on the surface of the tiles. Mix apple cider vinegar or lemon juice with water in a mop bucket and spread over the surface of the floor. Alternatively pour the solution into a spray bottle and apply evenly over the tiles. Leave the solution to dry and you should be left with a shiny, polished ceramic floor.

Polishing Porcelain Tiles

  • Water
  • Non abrasive mop
  • Towel
  • Floor cleaner which doesn’t contain acid, oil or soap
  • Penetrating sealer

Polishing manmade tiles is more straightforward than polishing natural stone varieties. Stone is porous whereas engineered tiles tend to be impermeable so you generally don’t have to worry about the solution penetrating through the tile.

First of all sweep the tiles, removing any dirt and dust before mopping them with the floor cleaner solution mixed with the instructed amount of water. Then remove the cleaning residue by rinsing with clean water.

Buff the tiles to shine with a dry mop or cloth. The tiles can now be sealed for a high gloss and protective finish.

How To Polish Marble Tiles

  • Dust mop
  • Bucket and lukewarm water
  • Dish soap
  • Soft cloth mop
  • White chalk
  • Bowl
  • Soft cloths

It is important to use the correct products on marble to avoid damaging it. Acidic products are not recommended as these could react with the calcium carbonate within the marble and could even erode the tile. Using neutral cleaners and polishing solutions is certainly the best option when dealing with marble. This process is quite straight forward and hopefully this guide on how to polish marble tiles will make the task even easier.

Before polishing make sure your marble tiles are completely free of any dust and dirt. Firstly remove the dust with a dust mop before applying lukewarm water and dish soap with a soft cloth mop. Then with a clean, dry mop you can dry your marble floor completely in preparation for polishing.

To create the polishing agent, crush a few bits of chalk into a bowl. Then wet a soft cloth before wringing it out. Dip the cloth into the bowl, ensuring the chalk sticks to it. Then wipe the entire marble floor with the cloth and leave the chalk to dry.

Once dry you will see the residue left from the chalk. Remove this with a clean, wet, soft cloth. Then with a dry cloth buff the marble floor until shiny.