Step into almost any home, and you’re likely to find ceramic tile. It’s a classic material that’s been used for centuries and is still a popular choice today thanks to its durability, versatility, and ease of maintenance. But even the most low-maintenance materials require a bit of care from time to time, and that’s where we come in. In this article, we’ll show you how to clean ceramic tiles like a pro, so your kitchen, bathroom, and entryway tiles always look their best.
Tackling Ceramic Tile Flooring in Your Kitchen, Bathroom, & Entryways
Before we jump into your ceramic shower tiles or kitchen backsplashes, let’s tackle the largest ceramic surface in your home first – the flooring. Ceramic tile is often used in high-traffic areas like the kitchen, the bathroom, and in entryways since it can withstand a lot of wear and tear. But all that foot traffic can lead to dirt and grime build-up that can potentially scratch the surface of your ceramic tiles if not regularly cleaned. Here is how to clean ceramic tile flooring:
- Prep The Floor First: The first step is to prep your floor for washing. You will need to grab either a broom or vacuum and use them to remove any loose dirt, debris, or pet hair that resides on the floor.
- Once you’ve removed the majority of the dirt and debris, inspect the ceramic tiling for any sticky residue spots. These are areas where items like juice, syrup, toothpaste, tracked-in mud, or hair products have fallen onto the floor in a puddle and have since dried into a sticky spot that the vacuum or broom cannot pick up. Remove these areas with a flat tool such as a putty knife or a credit card.
- Don’t forget to pull out appliances and clean underneath or behind them!
- Washing The Floor – Mop & Bucket: Now that the floor is prepped and all the dirt, debris, and sticky spots have been removed, it’s time to wash the floor. You can do this with a mop and bucket, or a steam cleaner if you have one.If using a mop and bucket, fill the bucket with warm water and add a gentle pH-neutral cleanser. Avoid using harsh chemicals, abrasive cleaners, or scouring-type tools (magic eraser, steel wool, etc.), as these can damage the surface of your ceramic tile. Some individuals choose to use vinegar, dish soap, and hot water, but we prefer to use a dedicated ceramic tile cleaner like R.O.G. 3 as it’s non-acidic, so it won’t dull your ceramic’s finish, and it’s family and pet-friendly.
- To wash the floor, start in one corner of the room and work your way out. Use long, even strokes to avoid missing any spots. Once you’ve gone over the entire floor, rinse with clean water to remove any leftover soap residue.
- If you have a steam cleaner, this is an easy and effective way to clean ceramic tile floors. Just fill the steam cleaner with water and follow the instructions on how to operate it.
- If using a dedicated tile cleaner like R.O.G. 3, simply spray the blue cleaning solution on the floor and let it sit for upwards of 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, use your mop to scrub it around, and then rinse your mop out. Use clean, hot water to pick up the cleaning solution and rinse the floor.
- Allow the Floor to Dry: Once you’ve gone over the entire floor, allow it to air dry or wipe it down with a clean, dry towel.
How to Clean Ceramic Tile Shower Walls & Bathroom/Kitchen Backsplashes
The reason ceramic tile is used in both shower walls, and as backsplash inserts in the bathroom and kitchen rooms, is due to its water-resistant properties. But while cleaning your ceramic tile flooring is easy to do with a mop and bucket or steamer, you can’t use these items on the shower walls or backsplashes. However, because these areas are subjected to water exposure daily, it’s vital to clean them regularly to prevent mold and mildew build-up. Here is how to clean ceramic tile shower walls and backsplashes:
- Prepare your cleaning solution of choice in a spray bottle and use it liberally, starting from the top tiles and working your way down (the solution you use on your ceramic tile flooring works here).
- Allow it to sit for a few minutes, so it can penetrate any dirt or soap scum build-up.
- Scrub the tiles with a damp cloth or soft nylon brush, again starting from the top and working your way down. Working in this direction pulls dirt and grime down to where it’s easier to remove, rather than pushing it toward the ceiling.
- Once you’ve removed all the dirt and grime, rinse the area with clean water. When cleaning the ceramic shower tiles, use the shower head (if yours detaches) to rinse with clean water, or grab a bucket and fill it with clean water for the final rinse. When working on your bathroom or kitchen backsplashes, a wet cloth works well for rinsing off the smaller surfaces.
- Finally, go over the entire area with a clean, dry cloth to remove any leftover debris or cleaning solution and prevent the appearance of water spots. Alternatively, you can use a squeegee for a quick, easy finish.
Special Note: If your shower has a tile floor, be sure to find out what type of tile it’s made of, as it will often NOT be glazed ceramic. Typically, natural material tiles are used since they aren’t slippery when wet, and the type of cleaner you use may affect the finish of things like stone, marble or granite.
What About Cleaning That Black-Spotted Grout?
Now that we’ve gone over how to clean ceramic tiles, what about the grout that sits between the tiles? While grout is typically a different color than the tile itself (usually an off-white shade), it becomes susceptible to dirt, grime, and mold build-up due to being porous (has minute holes that let in water and air). If not cleaned regularly, the grout can become discolored and stained.
- Choose Your Cleaning Solution: While there are a few natural mixtures you can make to clean your grout, these often involve using vinegar (non-diluted), bleach, and baking soda. The problem with these are that they can damage your tile if used too frequently or left on for too long. For this reason, we recommend using a store-bought cleaning solution like R.O.G. 3, which is aimed at cleaning your ceramic tiles and the grout between them. Then you don’t have to worry about marring the finish on your ceramic shower wall tiles or kitchen/bathroom backsplashes while you get at the stained grout.
- Application & Removal: Most grout cleaners come in a spray bottle, which makes application easy. Simply spray the cleaner onto the grout lines and let it sit for the amount of time recommended on the bottle. Once the cleaner has had a chance to work its magic, use a toothbrush or other stiff-bristled brush to scrub the grout clean. Finally, rinse the area with water and dry it with a clean towel.
Ceramic tile is a beautiful, durable material that can last for years with proper care and cleaning. By following the tips in this article, you can keep your ceramic tile floors, walls, and backsplashes looking new. Just remember to use the correct cleaning solutions and tools, and to take care when cleaning grout lines. With a little effort, you can keep your tile looking great for years to come!