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.
Regular, once-a-week cleaning requires nothing more than a simple sweep with a soft-bristle broom before vacuuming (with the brush attachment).
Once a month, mix 1/4 cup white vinegar with two gallons of water (or purchase one of the many suitable commercial cleansers) and apply 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.
That said, 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, such as Black Diamond Marble & Tile Floor Cleaner (view on Amazon).
- 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 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.
What Not to Do
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.