How to Clean All Types of Tile Floors

Cleaning tile floors properly is key to maintaining their beauty and durability. With the right techniques and products, you can keep your tile floors looking like new. This article will provide tips on how to clean all the most common types of tile flooring.

Supplies Needed for Cleaning Tile Floors

Before you start cleaning, make sure you have the proper supplies:

  • Broom or vacuum cleaner – To pick up dirt, debris, and dust before mopping
  • Mop and bucket – Choose a mop designed for tile floors; string mops work well
  • All-purpose cleaner – For routine cleaning of most tile types
  • Disinfectant cleaner – For sanitizing grout and porous tiles
  • Grout brush – For scrubbing dirt and grime out of grout lines
  • Old toothbrush – For scrubbing grime in crevices and small areas
  • Microfiber cloths – For dusting and drying tiles
  • Rubber gloves – To protect your hands while cleaning with chemicals
  • Knee pads – To cushion your knees when scrubbing floors

How to Clean Porcelain and Ceramic Tile

Porcelain and ceramic tiles are very common choices for flooring. Here’s how to clean these non-porous tiles:

Sweeping and Dry Mopping

First, sweep or dry mop the floors to remove any loose dirt, dust, hair, and debris. This prevents spreading grit around when wet mopping.

Mix Cleaner and Water

In a bucket, mix an all-purpose hard surface cleaner like Mr. Clean or Lysol concentrate with warm water according to label directions. Avoid bleach or abrasive cleaners that could scratch the tile.

Damp Mopping

Dip your mop into the cleaning solution, wring it out so it’s damp but not dripping. Working in sections, mop the floor using a figure-8 motion. Rinse the mop frequently in clean water to remove dirt.

Rinsing and Drying

Rinse the floor with clean water to remove any residue. Allow the tiles to air dry completely. Be sure to rinse out your mop and bucket after use.

Grout Cleaning

Over time, grout can get dingy with dirt and soap scum. Scrub it occasionally with a grout brush and the all-purpose cleaner. For stubborn buildup, use a grout whitening product.

Finishing Touches

Once or twice a month, polish the tiles with a microfiber cloth to restore shine. Use a toothbrush dipped in cleaner to scrub dirt from crevices and corners.

How to Clean and Disinfect Stone Tile Floors

Natural stone tiles like marble, granite, slate, and travertine add elegance but require some special care. Here are tips for cleaning and disinfecting stone tile:

Dust Mopping

Gently sweep or dry mop stone floors regularly to prevent dirt from grinding into the porous surface.

Mix Mild Cleaner

In a bucket, dilute a mild pH neutral stone cleaner, like Method Daily Stone Cleaner, with warm water. Avoid acidic cleaners that can etch natural stone.

Damp Mop

Using a microfiber mop, wring out excess water so the mop is just damp. Mop the floor in sections using a figure-8 motion. Rinse the mop frequently.

Rinse and Dry

Wipe the floor with clean water to remove residue. Allow the stone to completely air dry.


To kill germs and sanitize the grout, occasionally mop with a disinfectant cleaner made for natural stone. Rinse thoroughly after 10 minutes.


Reapply a natural stone sealer every 1-2 years to protect against stains and etching. Check manufacturer directions for application tips.


To restore luster, buff dry stone floors occasionally with a microfiber pad. Avoid wax-based polishes that can cause buildup.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Grout Between Tiles

Grout is porous and prone to trapping dirt, spills, and grime. Follow these steps to clean and disinfect tile grout:

Mix Grout Cleaner

Fill a spray bottle with an all-purpose tile and grout cleaner according to label directions. Or mix 1 part bleach to 4 parts water for DIY grout cleaner.

Apply Cleaner and Let Sit

Spray or pour cleaner directly onto grout lines. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes so it can penetrate.

Scrub With Grout Brush

Use a stiff grout brush to scrub the grout lines, applying pressure to remove built-up gunk and stains.

Rinse Thoroughly

Rinse the cleaner off the tiles and grout using clean water. Make sure to remove all residue.

Disinfecting Grout

After cleaning, spray a disinfectant labeled for use on grout onto the lines. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then rinse.

Removing Stubborn Stains

For stubborn stains in grout, use a paste of baking soda and water. Let sit for 5 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing.

Sealing Grout

Apply a penetrating grout sealer every 1-2 years to help prevent future stains and mildew in grout lines.

Cleaning and Sanitizing Textured Tile and Grout

Textured tiles like quarry tile and grout with wider joints require some extra attention when cleaning:

Vacuum Textured Areas

Use a vacuum attachment to suck up dirt, dust, and debris trapped deep in textured tile surfaces and wide grout joints.

Scrub With Stiff Brush

Use a stiff grout brush or old toothbrush to vigorously scrub stains on textured tiles and wider grout lines.

Rinse Thoroughly

Take care to rinse all cleaning product residues from textured tile floors to avoid trapping more dirt.

Disinfect Grout

Spray a disinfectant cleaner made for grout onto all the joints. Let sit 10 minutes before rinsing.

Remove Odors

To eliminate odors from mildew or pets, mop tile floors with white vinegar or baking soda paste. Rinse completely after.

Clean Out Grout

For wide or epoxy grout joints, use a blunt plastic tool to scrape out all debris and grime at least twice a year.

Tips for Cleaning Small Mosaic Tiles

Tiny glass, ceramic, or stone mosaic tiles require gentle care and cleaning:

Dust Mopping

Dry mop mosaic tile floors often to prevent grit from grinding into the grout and tile surfaces.

Mix a Mild Cleaner

Avoid harsh chemicals, and mix a mild pH-balanced cleaner made for glass tile or natural stone. Dilute with warm water.

Spot Clean Stains

Spot clean any spills or stains on mosaic tiles as soon as possible using a soft cloth and the mild cleaner.

Damp Mop

Wring a sponge mop out very well so it’s just barely damp. Gently mop small sections of the floor at a time.

Rinse Thoroughly

Take extra care rinsing all cleaning residue off mosaic tiles to avoid trapping more dirt in crevices.

Disinfecting Grout

Use a soft grout brush and a mild disinfectant labeled safe for grout to carefully sanitize the grout between mosaics.

Avoid Scrubbing

Do not aggressively scrub mosaics, which can loosen grout or scratch the tile surfaces.

Cleaning Saltillo, Terracotta, and Clay Tiles

Saltillo, terracotta, and other clay-based tiles require some special consideration:

Regular Dust Mopping

Frequently dry mop saltillo and clay tiles to prevent abrasive dirt and grit buildup.

Mix a Gentle Cleaner

Dilute a mild pH neutral cleaner labeled for natural terra cotta or clay tile per directions. Avoid harsh chemicals.

Damp Mop

Using a barely damp mop, gently clean small sections of the floor. Rinse the mop pad frequently.

Seal Regularly

Apply a penetrating sealer made for clay or saltillo tiles every 1-2 years. This prevents stains and etching.

Avoid Harsh Brushing

Never aggressively scrub saltillo or terracotta tiles, which can remove their protective coating.

Remove Stains Gently

Work stains out gently using soft cloth and diluted cleaner. Let cleaner sit before lightly rubbing.

Restore Saltillo Luster

Buff floors occasionally with a terrycloth pad to restore saltillo’s matte finish.

Best Practices for Routine Tile Floor Cleaning

Follow these general tips to keep your tile floors looking their best:

  • Dry mop or sweep daily to remove surface dirt and grit that can scratch floors.
  • Mix cleaners according to label directions. Avoid bleach, vinegar, or acidic cleaners on grout and natural stone.
  • Damp mop floors using minimal water and frequent mop rinsing. Allow tile to fully dry before replacing furniture.
  • Spot clean spills quickly with an absorbent cloth to prevent stains.
  • Deep clean grout lines monthly using a specialized tile and grout brush.
  • Reseal grout and some natural tiles annually to prevent stains and damage.
  • Use door mats and area rugs to protect tile and trap dirt.
  • Revitalize floors occasionally by buffing with a terrycloth pad or microfiber cloth.

Answering Common Tile Floor Cleaning Questions

Cleaning tile floors properly helps them stay beautiful for years to come. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

How often should I mop my tile floors?

For light traffic areas, mopping once a week is sufficient. High traffic floors may need mopping 3-5 times per week. Always sweep or dry mop daily.

Should I use vinegar to clean tile floors?

White vinegar is too acidic for cleaning and can damage grout and etch natural stone tiles over time. Use a pH-neutral cleaner instead.

What’s the best way to clean tile shower floors?

Use a stiff nylon brush and grout cleaner to scrub mildew and soap scum from grout lines. Squeegee after showering to keep water from pooling.

How can I revive dull tile floors?

Regular mopping with a tile floor cleaner helps maintain shine. For dull finishes, buffing occasionally with a terrycloth pad can restore luster.

What’s the easiest way to mop tile floors?

Use a microfiber pad mop with a long handle. It effectively picks up dirt and is machine washable. Rinse pads frequently while mopping.

How do I sanitize tile floors?

Mix 1/4 cup of bleach into 1 gallon of water and mop floors with this solution. Allow the bleach solution to sit on the floors for 10 minutes before rinsing.


With the proper techniques and cleaning products, you can keep any type of tile flooring spotless. Focus on regular sweeping and mopping, scrubbing dirty grout, and using the mildest cleaners for each tile material. Disinfect grout lines and textured floors periodically to eliminate grime and germs. With routine care, your beautiful tile floors will maintain their like-new appearance for years of enjoyment.