Spring Clean: How To Clean Tiles Correctly

Spring has almost (sort of) sprung and for many of you, that means it’s time to give the house a thorough sprucing up –  clearing away clutter, degreasing, vacuuming, polishing and shining throughout your abode. When it comes to cleaning your tiled surfaces however there are a few things to bear in mind as different methods and products are required depending on the type of tile you’re cleaning. Fear not though intrepid spring cleaners as we’ve created this handy guide to help you achieve clean tiles in no time at all…

How To Clean Porcelain Tiles

Before You Start…

When cleaning any type of tile your first move should always be to remove any surface dust or debris. A quick sweep down or vacuuming should do the trick, however, it’s advisable to use a soft brush or dry mop on porcelain tiles as stiff bristles can occasionally damage the glaze.

Ditch The Chemicals

Porcelain tiles are subjected to intense heat during manufacture to fuse the various layers together and it’s this process that gives them their water-resistant qualities. Continued use of corrosive chemical cleaners that contain ammonia, bleach and/or acids can erode the surface layer of tiles, meaning that water absorption rates can increase. Similarly, corrosive chemicals can damage grout, leading to water ingress which will loosen the tiles, so avoid at all costs!

Make Those Porcelain Tiles Shine!

Most porcelain tiles can be cleaned sufficiently simply using warm water and a mop. Just slosh some of the wet stuff from your mop bucket onto the area to be cleaned (using a clean mop), apply a bit of elbow grease et voila! Clean porcelain tiles.  

If the tiles are a bit grubbier than warm water alone can shift then try a little detergent mixed in with the water. Always take care to read the manufacturer’s instructions however – most everyday cleaning solutions are concentrated and will need diluting to make them less concentrated before use. Simply mop in the same way as described above and then after a couple of minutes, mop the areas again with clean, warm water to remove any detergent residue and prevent streaks and watermarks.

If you really want to go to town on that dastardly dirt (without harming your lovely tiles of course) then we recommend using a specialist porcelain tile cleaner such as Filacleaner Tile & Stone Cleaner from leading tile cleaning solution manufacturer, Fila.

How To Clean Ceramic Tiles

Before You Start…

As with porcelain tiles, you must ensure you remove any loose dust, dirt and debris before beginning your clean-up operation. A swift run over with a vacuum cleaner should do the trick, or if the tiles are on a wall, a quick wipe down with a soft dry cloth (microfiber ones are particularly good for this).

Wet & Wild

Next, it’s time to get sploshing some water on them. Get a non-fibrous cloth and submerge it in some warm water before wringing out the excess. Be careful not to get your cloth or mop overly wet as you’ll just end up pushing water around the surface of the tiles for longer than is necessary and expending effort that could be better put towards actually cleaning the tiles. Run your mop or cloth over the tiles, applying gentle pressure and making sure that you wring out the dirty water every now and then and repeat until you have covered the entire surface area.

Soap & Glory

If warm water alone is failing to shift a build-up of grime, you can add a splash of household detergent to your water to tackle that slightly tougher dirt. As with porcelain tiles, however, make sure you avoid harsh chemical cleaners as these can damage the glaze on the surface of the tiles over time. Steer clear of solutions containing ammonia, bleach and/or acids and you’ll be fine. To be completely on the safe side, we recommend using a specialist tile cleaning solution such as Fila Tile & Stone Cleaner.

But Were never Gonna Survive Unless, We Get A little Hazy…

If you do use household cleaners on your ceramic tiles then you might find that your tile surfaces look a little hazy post-mopping or wiping. This is likely due to soap/cleaning solution build-up. The film can be easily removed using a non-abrasive all-purpose cleaner and a clean mop, or if you really want to make sure you get shot of every last cloudy molecule then you can use something like Fila PS87 Stain Remover.

PRO TIP: Opt for a chamois-type mop rather than a sponge mop. Rag and chamois-style mops are better for cleaning tiles as sponge mops tend to push dirty water into the grout joints.

How To Clean Polished Tiles

Before You Start…

You know the drill by now…prepare your polished tiles for cleaning by either giving them a quick once over with the vacuum cleaner or micro-fibre mop to remove surface dust and grit. Once you’ve done that and are satisfied that there are no errant bits of matter floating about on the surface of your tiles then you’re ready to get that tap running and your bucket out…

Weapon of Choice

As mentioned earlier on in this article, it’s usually best to use a chamois-style mop over a sponge or fabric/string type as the latter tend to hold onto dirt particles and inadvertently transfer dirt into your grout joints. There’s an even better reason for choosing a chamois type mop-head for use on polished tiles however in that they will leave fewer streaks (which comes in handy when buffing the polished glazed surfaces to a brilliant shine).

Dry Your Tiles Mate

To clean your polished tiles you should follow the same advice we gave on cleaning porcelain and ceramic tiles. However, it’s especially important to not allow water to pool on high gloss tile surfaces after mopping/wiping and even more important to thoroughly dry your tiles afterwards. You can use a soft micro-fibre towel or specialist mop fitment for this task and in doing so, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of effort when it comes to the next stage of cleaning polished tiles – buffing.

Buff-a-load Stance

Perhaps the most important stage in cleaning polished tiles is restoring that shiny surface by buffing. If you’ve used a specialist tile cleaning solution such as Fila Tile & Stone Cleaner then this task will be easier than if you’ve used a household cleaner as it’s formulated to leave no residue or streaks.

Your polished tiles will still need buffing regardless of what has been used to clean them though and the best way to do this is to use a clean, soft, micro-fibre towel. Either get down on your hands an knees (never bend your back to do this!) and rub the surface of tiles in a circular motion until you reach a brilliant shine, or place the towel on the floor and use your foot to do the hard work!

How To Clean Natural Stone Tiles

Natural stone tiles such as those constructed from marble, granite, or slate can be easily damaged if not cleaned using the right products. Chemicals in traditional cleaners can damage the surface, so we always recommend investing in a cleaning solution designed especially for use on these materials.

Marble

Marble looks awesome but it’s also very high-maintenance. Avoid cleaning marble tiles with anything that has an acidic PH level (such as cleaning solutions that contain lemon or vinegar). This type of cleaner can etch the surface of the tile. You should also stay away from anything that may scratch the surface of the marble, such scouring powders, wire brushes or brushes with stiff bristles.

Slate

You may also use a mild detergent as long as it doesn’t contain acidic properties, such as lemon or vinegar. If your slate tile is coated, avoid water spots by drying the tile right away with a soft towel.  Fila PS87 Stain Remover is particularly adept at basic cleaning of acid-sensitive natural stone materials and can be used undiluted for even the toughest dirt and grime.

Granite

Just like marble, slate must only be cleaned with PH-neutral solutions such as Fila Tile & Stone Cleaner. Avoid even mild all-purpose household cleaners as it’s not always clear what ingredients they contain and they risk leaving streaks or discolouring the tiles. Polished granite should be buffed as described in the How To Clean Polished Tiles section above.

How To Clean Grout Joints

Whilst most modern grout has excellent anti-mould properties, it is still porous and absorbs grease and grime and can gradually become discoloured over time. If you want to keep your walls and floors looking great for longer, protecting your grout and regularly cleaning it is paramount.

Protection

If your tiles are new and freshly grouted then it might be an idea to seal the grout with a specialist sealing solution such as Fila MP90 Porcelain & Stone Sealer  This will help stop dirt and grime from building up throughout the life of the tiles as well as preventing water absorption – it’s only suitable for polished tiles however. It’s advisable to top up that anti-mould barrier at regular intervals with something like Fila Fuganet Grout Protector. Specialist products of this kind are formulated to prevent absorption of stains by grout and because they’re often water-based, won’t harm your tiles in the process.

White Lines

If you don’t want to invest in a dedicated grout cleaning product then you can always create your own using baking soda and water. Simply add one part water to two parts baking soda and mix into a paste, rub it on the stained grout, let it sit overnight, then scrub off the following day with a stiff nylon brush.

Once More Into The Bleach

Even though we advise against using bleach directly on tile, a little spray bleach here and there can do wonders to clean grout. Always use with caution however and be sure to rinse off thoroughly after cleaning as continued exposure of tile surfaces to bleach could cause damage over time.  

Steam Machine

There’s a lot of conflicting information about whether you should use a steam cleaner to clean grout. One school of thought says it’s a great way to revive lacklustre tiles and grout whereas others insist that it will do lasting damage grout over time. Our stance is that a gentle steam mopping of tiles every now and then won’t harm sealed grout, however, if the grout is damaged in any way, using steam cleaners often could accelerate any erosion and may cause pitting and discolouration. So, bearing that in mind we’d say that as with most things in life, moderation is key!

How Often To Clean Your Tiles

A regular cleaning schedule will obviously keep your tiled surfaces looking great but that doesn’t mean you should clean them in the ways described in this article every few days. To keep tiles and grout in tip-top shape we recommend a deep clean (using water and detergents) every fortnight and a less strenuous sweeping up of surface dirt and detritus every week.

You should try and carry out a thorough clean of bathroom wall and floor tiles using water and cleaning solutions at least once a week however –  germs and bacteria can build up quicker in rooms subject to humidity and constant sloshing water!

Got any tile cleaning tips that we might have missed? Leave them in the comments, or hit us up @TileMountainUK or via Facebook and we’ll do our best to share them.

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Here at Tile Mountain, we not only have a huge range of tiles to suit every purpose, we also have a wealth of tiling knowledge gained from over 30 years in the tile industry, (which we’ll do or best to share with you across these very pages).

Whether you’re looking for the perfect tiles for your next home improvement project, are searching for some style inspiration, or simply need a bit of help and advice, you’re in the right place.