You’ve just put down all new tile floors. They’re so sparkling-clean, you could eat off of them. Within weeks, days or even moments, the kids run through the house. The next thing you know, the dog shakes and sends sand, grass and – quite possibly – mud flying onto your pristine floors. Here’s the hard truth: life will go on, long after you’ve laid the last tile. So if you have any hope of maintaining order, you’ll need to learn how to clean floor tiles – stat!

Whether it’s streak-prone glass tile in the bathroom or porcelain tile floors in the kitchen, this cleaning guide is all you need.

 

How to Clean Ceramic Tile Floors

Tough ceramic tile can hold its own against dirt and grime. Unfortunately, it’s not resistant to dullness. Sand and grit can scuff up glazed ceramic tile floors, which cause it to lose its luster. If your ceramic gets stained with coffee or tea, DIY Network suggests washing it with hot water and a detergent before blotting with hydrogen peroxide. For any grease stains from stovetop cooking, use club soda and water. General cleaning, however, should be done at least every 30 days.


cleaning 3 What you need:

  • Vacuum
  • Mild detergent
  • Clean water
  • Chamois mop or rag

The steps to take:

  1. Vacuum (or sweep) your ceramic tile floors.
  2. In a bucket, add one parts detergent to four parts clean water.
  3. Use the mop or rag to wipe away dirt and grime.
  4. Change your mop water frequently to avoid leaving behind any streaky residue.

 

How to Clean Porcelain Tile Floors

Porcelain tile is one of the most durable flooring options you can choose. But that’s not the only reason people pick porcelain. It also comes in a range of colors, styles, and sizes. If you opted for a neutral concrete-looking porcelain tile, you’ll want to clean it often to retain its true color. Home expert Bob Vila recommends sweeping porcelain at least twice weekly and mopping once per month.

cleaning 2What you need:

  • Soft-bristle broom
  • Vacuum
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 gallons clean water
  • Sponge mop
  • Microfiber cloth or towel

The steps to take:

  1. Sweep your porcelain floors.
  2. Using the brush attachment, vacuum up any remaining particles.
  3. In a bucket, add white vinegar and water.
  4. Use the sponge mop to apply the solution to the floors, rinsing with clean water as you go.  
  5. To properly dry the wet porcelain floors, either drag a towel under your feet or get on all fours with a microfiber cloth. It’s tedious, but you only have to do it once every 30 days or so.

 

How to Clean Travertine Tile Floors

Stone, like travertine, requires floor cleaning products with the right pH, preferably a solution that’s not too acidic. For that reason, travertine is especially sensitive to vinegar- and bleach-based cleaners, according to UseNaturalStone.org. Another sure-fire way to damage travertine is to use a broom. The bristles themselves – plus, any debris stuck between them – can scratch the stone. If you want to keep your travertine shining, dust and wet mop your floors every week.  

cleaning 4What you need:

  • Dust mop
  • 1 tablespoon dish soap
  • 1 gallon warm, clean water
  • Sponge mop
  • Towel

The steps to take:

  1. Dust mop your travertine tile floors to remove any abrasive debris.  
  2. In a bucket, mix dish soap into warm, clean water.
  3. Dunk a mop, sponge or sponge mop into the solution, wring it dry and then run the mop over your floors. Travertine should only get damp – never fully wet.
  4. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to remove any residue.
  5. Use a towel to dry the floors.  

 

How to Clean Glass Tile Floors

Glass tile is usually found in bathrooms and kitchens, two of the most often used rooms of the house. On the positive side, glass is not very porous. So it won’t quickly absorb stains or allow mold and mildew to build up. It does, however, streak easily. You’ll need to take special care to ensure your glass tile floors remain crystal clear.

cleaning 5What you need:

  • Vacuum
  • All-purpose cleaner or a mix of water and vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Dry, lint-free cloth

The steps to take:

  1. Vacuum your glass tile floors to remove any abrasive debris.  
  2. Use a natural all-purpose cleaner, or make your own mixture of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Fill the bottle almost to the top with clean, tepid water. Add a couple capfuls of vinegar and swirl to combine.
  3. Spray the floor with your preferred solution. Unlike travertine, glass can handle a good soaking. So you’ll probably go through the entire spray bottle.
  4. For truly streakless floors, let the solution sit about 10 minutes before wiping it dry with a lint-free cloth.

 

How to Clean Marble Floors

Because it’s a porous natural stone, marble drinks up wine and other cringe-worthy stains. Should a glass tip, immediately tend to the spill. Marble is also sensitive to acidic solutions, so avoid vinegar-based cleaners and be careful of lemon juice. Otherwise, follow these streakless cleaning tips for a once-monthly deep clean.

cleaning 6What you need:

  • Dust mop
  • Neutral cleaner or phosphate-free soap
  • Clean water
  • Spray bottle or mop
  • Soft cloth

The steps to take:

  1. Pick up dirt and debris with a dust mop.
  2. Use a cleaner with a neutral pH, or mix your own in a spray bottle with water and phosphate-free soap. Swirl to combine.
  3. Spray the floor, but avoid getting your marble too wet.
  4. Use a sponge mop to spread the cleaner all around.
  5. Carefully, wipe dry with the soft cloth.

 

Advanced Cleaning Tips for Tile Floors

Some floors require extra care because they’re lighter in color and don’t hide dirt and grime well, or have a light color, stain-loving grout lines. Luckily, you can treat these inevitable faux pas with a keen eye and minimal effort.

Emend etching

Etching is a spot of dullness found on natural stone tiles and is usually caused by acidic foods or liquids. If exposed to the acidic environment too long, the integrity of the stone diminishes and can even cause permanent damage. However, it is possible to repair the etched tile. On marble floors, for example, you can use a dry #0000 steel wool pad and gently buff out the marks. If that doesn’t work, call a professional to restore the stone to its original sheen.

That said, your best bet is to take the necessary precautions to prevent etching in the first place. Apply a solvent-based seal to your travertine or marble floors, and reapply regularly to maintain its effectiveness. Sealing and cleaning your stone tile will go a long way in protecting its polish.

Revitalize grout lines

Grout is the stepchild of tile flooring. It gets the brunt of all those who tread on it because its poor pores can’t help but absorb grease, dirt and other stains. To keep grout – and your overall tile floors – looking fresh, you’ll need to put in a little overtime. Make a simple paste of baking soda and water, and then rub it into the stained areas of your grout lines. Let it sit overnight before scrubbing with a nylon brush. To prevent future wine stains and gunky buildup, apply a silicone-based sealer all over.

Learning how to clean floor tiles will not only keep your house looking its best but will give you peace of mind when life throws a curveball – or happens to spill a pitcher of lemonade. Now, no matter what, you’ll be ready to take on the mess.