How To: Clean Porcelain Tile
A beautiful and extremely durable flooring option, porcelain tile will retain its sparkling finish for years—so long as it's cleaned regularly and appropriately. Here's how.
Porcelain tile consistently ranks as a preferred flooring choice among homeowners, partly due to its beauty—the material comes in a veritable rainbow of hues—and partly due to its stain- and moisture-resistance. Though it loses luster over time, anyone can learn how to clean porcelain tile and restore its original shine.
Related: Top Tips for Cleaning Grout Lines
Clean porcelain tile regularly, as often as two times per week, to keep it in tip-top condition. Simply sweep with a soft-bristle broom before vacuuming (with the brush attachment). Then, once a month, mix 1/4 cup white vinegar with two gallons of water (or purchase one of the many suitable commercial cleansers), applying the solution to the floor with a sponge mop. Rinse with plain water, then dry the surface completely with a clean towel or a microfiber cloth.
There are different types of porcelain tile (unpolished/unglazed, polished/glazed, or textured) and for each type, a different set of specifics applies:
Cleaning Unpolished/Unglazed Porcelain Tile
• Vacuum and sweep the area thoroughly to remove dust and dirt.
• Taking one section at a time (two or four feet square), saturate the tile surface with a vinegar-and-water mixture or a commercial cleanser.
• Allow the cleanser to soak into the tile for five to ten minutes, but do not allow it to dry.
• Scrub stained areas with a soft-bristle brush.
• Wipe away the dirty cleaning solution and rinse the area with clean, hot water.
• Dry the tile with a clean towel or a microfiber cloth.
Cleaning Polished/Glazed Porcelain Tile
• Sweep and vacuum debris and dirt, then go over the area with a dry dust mop.
• Now use a hot water-dampened mop, never allowing moisture to puddle or pool on the tile.
• Loosen heavier soil with a soft nylon-bristle brush (or an old toothbrush).
• For stains, use a vinegar-and-water mixture (or a commercial cleanser diluted to half strength).
• Mop with your chosen cleanser, mopping again with hot water before the cleanser dries.
• Dry the tile surface with a clean towel or a microfiber cloth, being sure to rub out any water spots.
• Once dry, buff the clean porcelain tile to a high shine with a piece of cheesecloth.
Cleaning Textured Porcelain Tile
• Sweep the area twice with a soft-bristle broom, first in the direction of the tile, then on a diagonal.
• Vacuum to remove all dirt.
• Saturate the tile with a vinegar-and-water solution, allowing it to soak for five to ten minutes.
• Scrub the floor with a soft-bristle brush, again working in two directions.
• Rinse the floor with hot water in order to thoroughly remove the cleaning solution.
• Go over the clean porcelain tile floor with a damp mop.
• Dry with a clean towel or a microfiber cloth.
While porcelain tile boasts exceptional durability, there are few products and techniques you should take pains to avoid:
- Never use a product containing ammonia or bleach (or any type of acid-based cleanser); these can alter the tile color and/or stain the grout.
- Never use oil-based detergents or wax cleaners.
- On unglazed porcelain, never use any cleaners that contain dye or coloring.
- Never use steel wool to clean porcelain tile—small particles of steel can become embedded in the tile and grout, eventually causing rust stains.
- Never use hard bristles or scrub brushes, as they can scratch the tile surface.
Regular cleaning and polishing with a soft cotton or microfiber cloth will ensure that porcelain tile retains its “like new” shine for many years.