How to Clean Tile Floors

In the world of floored surfaces, surely one of the most common ways of filling up floor space with materials you can walk over and that look presentable is to lay down some tiles.

Whether it’s homes, sports facilities, public bathrooms, or some other rooms and facilities that require a sturdy and easy-to-clean walking surface, tiles represent the solution that is easy obtain and doesn’t take a nuclear scientist to set up.

Now, if you’re an owner of a tile floor, or are planning to get yourself one in the future, you may be wondering what’s the best way to care for this flooring surface.

The answer to this question, however, is manifold, to say the least, as there are several different types of tile floors – each of them requiring a unique approach when it comes to cleaning and general maintenance. In fact, the word ’tile’ doesn’t represent a material per se. Rather, it’s the shape and format in which a certain material is cut and fashioned.

So, there are multiple different types of tile. Perhaps the best-known tiles are those made out of ceramics or porcelain. Then there are cork tiles, which can be a brilliant solution for a wide variety of flooring options around your household. (Heck, you can even use them for your bathroom, provided you coat them with some means of protection against water.)

In this article, we’re going to talk about tile floors and how to clean them properly. As you will see, each type of tile requires a slightly different approach, and we will describe in detail how you can clean and otherwise perform long-term maintenance on each of them.

Best Way to Clean Ceramic & Porcelain Tile Floors

how to clean floor tiles naturally

At the very beginning you need to know what cleaning supplies and tools you require:

Cleaning Supplies

Before you start cleaning anything, you must first know the properties of the material you’re about to clean, otherwise, you might end up doing more harm than good.

Now, as far as the ceramic and porcelain tiles are in question, the deal is quite straightforward. These two materials represent one of the toughest tile materials (other than natural stone), so you shouldn’t worry too much about damaging it with chemicals in various floor-cleaning solutions.

So, as far as the supplies go for these two types of tile, a simple dishwashing liquid will do the trick just fine. You can pour a couple of drops into a bucket of warm water, dissolve it by stirring it for a while, and then crack on cleaning the floor.

If you have some tough stains to take care of, you can always prepare some baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, or even a little bit of bleach powder. Oh, and yes – for regular cleaning sessions, instead of the dishwashing liquid, you can also go with an all-purpose cleaner.

Cleaning Tools

As far as the tools are concerned for cleaning tile floors, chances are – you probably already have everything you need to start cleaning.

For starters you are going to need a simple broom, a dusting mop, (That’s a dry mop, not a wet one. You’ll need a wet one, too, by the way.) or even a vacuum cleaner will do the trick. These are for the first part of the cleaning session, which is sweeping the large chunks of debris and picking them up so that you can use a wet mop. (It’s probably easier to just use a vacuum cleaner at this stage.)

After you’re done sweeping, you can move on to the wet mop, which will give the floor shine and get it rid of the allergens, small dust particles, and other trash. You’ll also need some sort of brush with stiff bristles, so you can tackle the grout-based messes. Last but not least, don’t forget to use two buckets – one for clean water with the cleaning solution, one for the dirty water.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Guide

1) Sweep the Floor

Before you start applying the water with the chemical solution to the tile floor in question, you must first get rid of the larger chunks of debris, because otherwise you risk smudging these all over the place when you get to the wet mop.

The goal here is to use a dry brush or a good ole broom to remove the first layer of dirt and dust so that you have an easier time with the mop. If you have a vacuum cleaner, the easiest way to get this part of the job done is to simply vacuum cleaner the entire area. Just make sure to clean up the corners and other parts manually if you can’t reach them with the vacuum cleaner.

2) Treat Rough Grout Stains

While tile floors are fairly easy to clean because tiles themselves are relatively smooth, so you don’t have to scrub that hard, it’s also important to understand that there are the grout lines, which also need to be cleaned regularly.

The thing is, grout lines are not made out of tile, but of whatever it is that keeps it stuck to the floor below, so it takes a special sort of treatment to remove the stains that are found on this surface.

To do this, you can prepare a simple backing soda + water solution, apply it to the dirty grout lines, wait for a while, and then scrub with a stiff-bristled brush in order to remove the offending dirt. On the other hand, you can also use some hydrogen peroxide to the same effect, or even apply some oxygen-based bleach powder and scrub with a little bit of water.

3) Prepare the Cleaning Solution

You can do this step before you start with the second one, but it doesn’t matter if you do it right after the second one. The goal here is to pick your floor-cleaning chemical solution and then mix it with warm water in one of the buckets.

Typically, the manufacturers of these chemical cleaning solutions will post an explanation of how to mix it with water (how much of it you need to use, the water temperature, etc.), so you will know exactly how to do it.

Once you’ve prepared this cleaning concoction, whip out the wet mop and you can proceed to the next step.

4) Wet Mop the Area

While mopping, make sure to use as little water as possible.

This is not just to save water, but too much water on a non-absorbent tile floor will mean you’ll have to wait for ages for it to dry off, which can be quite annoying. So, make sure to use only so much that you can move the mop smoothly across the floor and reach every corner.

As the mop fibers are picking up the finer pieces of dirt and other pollutants from off the floor, you can use the other bucket to dump the old water, so you can dip the mop in the clean water and continue mopping. (You may also need a wringer, to make sure that you can drain the dirty water to the best of your ability.)

5) Rinse the Remaining Chemicals

The thing with using chemicals to clean tile floors is that you have to pay attention to leaving the chemical solution on the floor after you’ve finished with the cleaning process. In order to ensure this doesn’t cause stickiness, you have to rinse the entire area with clean water.

You can do this by emptying the first bucket where the water with the chemical solution was and then refilling it with clean water and repeating the dipping and mopping procedure one more time. (Also, you’ll probably need to use the other bucket for dumping the water with the small cleaning solution residue, too.)

How to Clean Stone Tile Floors

Cleaning Supplies

The first rule of thumb you should always adhere to when it comes to cleaning a tile stone floor would be NOT to use any cleaning solution that is acid-based. These acid-based solutions can damage stone floors, so steer clear of these while buying supplies for your upcoming cleaning session. Wherever you see ‘lemon’, or ‘vinegar’ in the description of a product, make sure not to buy it.

What you should buy, on the other hand, is an alkaline cleaning solution, preferably a bottle of something that’s specifically been developed for the purpose of cleaning stone floors. This way, you can ensure you won’t damage the stone tiles while trying to clean them.

As far as cleaning the grout lines is concerned, the same deal as with the ceramic and porcelain tile floors applies here – get some hydrogen peroxide, use a bleach + water solution, or go for some baking soda, instead.

Cleaning Tools

Here’s the thing with stone tile floors and ceramics and porcelain tile floors – as long as you don’t use an acidic cleaning solution and use an alkaline one instead, you can use exactly the same cleaning tools for a stone tile floor as you would for a ceramic or porcelain one.

This also mostly applies to the principle of cleaning, if you look at the steps. (Which we’ll list below, as well.) First, you need a broom or a vacuum cleaner to dry-clean the stone tile area you’re treating. Then make sure to thoroughly clean the grout lines, especially if you haven’t done that in a while. (Cleaning the grout lines often gets skipped by the folks with tile floors, because it can be annoying.)

After that, you do the wet mopping part, make sure you’re using an alkaline cleaning solution, get the two buckets for clean and dirty water, and Bob’s your uncle.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Guide

1) Sweep the Dirt

… or vacuum clean it – your call.

The important thing to remember here would be the following – make sure that you pick up the majority of the larger chunks of dirt, dust, or whatever it is you’ve managed to spill on your stone tile floor.

You see, if you fail to do this before you start wet mopping the area, you run the risk of actually spreading leftover dust and some other dirt particles all over your floor, while trying to clean it. This can create even more work for you, so, if you don’t want to do everything twice, make sure you’ve swept everything the first time.

2) Clean the Dirty Grout

One of the best ways to ensure you’ve done everything in your power to get rid of the grout would be to use one of the aforementioned solutions (such as hydrogen peroxide or regular baking soda), apply a small amount to the lines you want to clean, and then simply crack on with cleaning the area.

Chances are – this task is going to be quite boring and it will require more physical effort than the ones before it, but once you’re done with it, you can concentrate on the easier parts of the cleaning process such as mopping and rinsing the area.

3) Wet Mop

Let us reiterate here that stone tile floors (and other stone floors that aren’t tile but are still, well – stone) can only be cleaned using an alkaline-based cleaning solution, as opposed to an acidic one, to prevent damage to the floor.

Now, once you’ve acquired such a cleaning solution, follow the instructions on its label on how to mix it properly with water, then take the second bucket to dump the dirty water in, and start cruising around your stone floor and cleaning it thoroughly. This part of the job is probably easier than the grout-cleaning, even though you’re covering a bigger area. (It’s because you’re using big swoops to make this happen.)

4) Rinse the Floor

Once you’ve finished mopping the entire area, you can simply take the mop together with the two buckets, dump the water out of both, clean the mop head and its fibers, and start all over again – this time with clean water in both buckets – without the cleaning solution.

The idea here is to get rid of some of the residues of that chemical by using a mop head that you’ve submerged in clean water. Once you’ve picked up that residue from off the floor, you can then dump it in the other bucket and at the end dump them both in the toilet or wherever you like to dump it.

Other Types of Tile Floors (Rubber, Cork, Vinyl, and Linoleum)

Cleaning Supplies

As we’ve already mentioned in the beginning, there are other forms of hard floors than just ceramics, porcelain, and stone tiles. Here, we’re going to tell you how to clean vinyl, linoleum, and cork floors.

For a vinyl tile floor, you’re going to need a simple water + vinegar solution or some other similar product that can be used for cleaning vinyl floors, in particular. Also, make sure not to use a brush or a broom with bristles that are too hard, because you can damage the surface this way.

As far as linoleum floors are concerned, it’s best you use borax + water cleaning solution, although you can also go ahead and by a cleaning product specifically concocted for linoleum floors. Other than this, the procedure is the same as with vinyl – first dry sweep, then mop using the aforementioned solution, rinse, then let dry. After that, you’ll also need to apply wax if you haven’t done it in a long time. (Every 3 to 6 months would be the recommended temporal bridge.)

Cork floors, in general, are sealed with polyurethane, so you can easily clean them with a standard mild detergent and some water. If they aren’t sealed with polyurethane, then you can do the same thing, but also remember to cover the floor with wax once it dries off.

Cleaning Tools

As far as the cleaning tools are concerned for these three tile surfaces, the deal is quite straightforward. You’ll need something to sweep the area sans water, then a wet mop to get clean the area thoroughly with the cleaning solution you’ve prepared, and then count in those two buckets from the beginning, as well.

If there’s one thing that you should pay attention to at all times, it would be the fact that you shouldn’t use a steam mop on any of these floors, as excessive heat can damage these fairly easily. That said, it’s perfectly alright to use a vacuum cleaner on these tile floors. Just make sure it’s not a steam-based model, and you’re good to go. In fact, using a vacuum cleaner for the first stage of this task is a pretty good idea. (You do the job quicker and more efficiently than you would be able to with a simple hand-operated broom.)

How to Clean Other Type of Tiles Floors

1) Don’t Use Scrubbers

All of the surfaces we’ve mentioned in this part of the article (cork, vinyl, and linoleum) are very sensitive to the touch, so using any sort of hard scrubbing tool can damage them easily. To avoid this, use soft brushes and cleaning solutions, and make sure to apply protective wax on the cork and linoleum floors if you haven’t done it in a long time.

Also, along with soft-brush brooms and vacuum cleaners, you can use the standard mops with their soft heads, as these will probably be an excellent tool for cleaning these areas without risking damaging them in the process.

2) Vacuum or Sweep First

Now, when it comes to actually commencing the cleaning process, so to speak, what you need to do is first sweep or vacuum clean the area you plan to treat. This will help you get rid of the first layer of dust and dirt, and allow you to reach some of the layers beneath these, that are more difficult to remove, with a wet mop.

If you don’t have a broom, but do have a vacuum cleaner, you can always simply vacuum the area and be done with it in this way. (Just make sure to get to all the corners and awkwardly-placed spots such as beneath the furniture.)

3) Wet Mop

Using a wet mop is a cleaning move that is standard for virtually all tile floors.

The only thing you should keep in mind when these different sorts of tile floor surfaces would be that you have to make sure you’re using the right sort of cleaning solution for every surface you’re working on. Otherwise, you can do more harm than good to your floors, which can be annoying, as well as a costly prospect.

Anyway, when you do venture to do the wet mop thing, make sure to use those two buckets, so you can flip between clean and dirty water easily.

4) Rinse and Let Dry

After you’ve finished wet mopping the entire area you worked on, you must empty the buckets and refill them with clean water. (Also, you need to clean the mop head of any residual chemicals that remained thereafter mopping.)

Now, you can use the two buckets the following way: dip the mop head in the first one, and then after you’ve rinsed the targeted area, you can bring the mop head to the other bucket, and get rid of any excess water. After you’ve completed the rinsing of your tile floor, leave it to dry off and then proceed to step number 5, if you have either a cork floor or a linoleum.

5) Apply a Layer of Wax (If Needed)

Certain floors require you to apply some level of wax on them every once in a while. Otherwise, they can get damaged over time, which will result in having to pay expensive repairs.

Usually, it’s the cork and linoleum floors, that require this sort of treatment. The good news here is that you don’t have to do this all the time. In fact, once every three to six months should be more than enough to protect your tile floor against moisture and other problems.

Overall, cleaning tile floors cannot be described as the most difficult task in the world. It’s quite a wonder what you can do with just a little bit of water, a couple of buckets, and a little bit of some cleaning solution. We hope you found this article helpful and wish you plenty of luck removing the dirt and other pollutants from off your tile floor.