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How to Clean Tile Floors—From Ceramic to Cement Surfaces


Knowing how to clean tile floors is not a one-approach-tackles-all situation. From ceramic and marble to porcelain and vinyl, a rudimentary tile cleaning approach is not always the same. That means cleaning tile floors, or any tile in general, may require several tactics. “Each tile type absorbs stains differently and has its own way that it needs to be properly cleaned,” says Janice Stewart, the owner of Castle Keepers House Cleaners in Charleston, South Carolina. “Also, some tiles are more porous than others.” For instance, using bleach to remove a wine stain from vintage ceramic tile may result in yellowing. Here, five common materials and tips on how to clean tile floors in any room—from the kitchen to the porch to the bathroom.

1. Natural stone tile like marble and granite

Keep that marble gleaming with a gentle solution of suds and water.

Photo: jodiejohnson

Though long-lasting, marble and granite tile is generally porous and soaks up a lot of dirt, including the cleaning solution, so you should be careful to spray with caution. “This type of natural tile material should be cleaned with an abundance of water before anything else,” says Stefan Bucur, founder of the home improvement site Rhythm of the Home. “The cleaning process is usually pretty straightforward.” 

For spills like coffee, wine, solid food, and grease, sweep all the crumbs and solidified bits first. Then, concentrate on stubborn stains by letting them soak in a gentle cleaning solution before starting the rest of the process. Be careful not to use anything too acidic, especially when it comes to cleaning marble tile, as it can yellow or eat away at the material. The next step is to dampen the whole surface with a mop to loosen all the dry dirt. After the surface is damp enough, use a cleaning solution like dish soap mixed with water. The last step is to make sure that all the stains are gone before letting the drying process begin. “Since these are porous tiles, the water you just used to clean the stains will have to evaporate before the cleaning process is complete,” Bucur says.  

Stewart adds that daily care of these tiles is important too. You should vacuum or dust-mop everyday to remove grit and soil contaminants before they damage floors. 

2. Vinyl and linoleum tile

Linoleum upkeep is easy with a vinegar-based cleaning solution.

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