Secrets to Cleaning Ceramic Tile

If you have ceramic tile flooring in your home, you need to know how to keep your floor free of dirt. While cleaning ceramic tile flooring is relatively simple, there are some pitfalls that you should avoid. The secrets to cleaning ceramic tile floors take into consideration both the tile and the grout.

Ceramic Tile

Humans have been making tiles for their dwellings for 4,000 years. In ancient times, tile making techniques were closely guarded secrets, and each tile was handmade and unique. Caring for tiles was a guessing game, as what worked well on one composition of tile might destroy another.

Today's ceramic tile is usually manufactured in quantity, unless you are lucky enough to have handmade tile in your home. Ceramic tile, made from clay and sand, is fired at high temperatures, leaving the tile with more strength and a hard surface.

The main differences between ceramic tiles are the glazes used. These glazes give ceramic tile their finish, be it rustic or polished and shiny.

Most tiles in homes are made in the monocottura, or single-fired, process. Tiles made using the monocottura process are completed in less time and are more durable and flatter, making installation easier.

You may have biocuttura tile on the walls of your home. The biocuttura process requires at least two firings, one when the clay is fired alone and one after glaze is applied to the tile.

Cleaning Grout

When cleaning your floor, you not only have to consider your ceramic tile, you have to consider your grout. Grout is the substance between each tile that holds the tiles in place. Grout also adds to the appearance of your floor. Grout can get mold or mildew if moisture is present, and damaged grout leads to tiles loosening or falling off the surface. Since grout typically isn't as durable as the tile itself, any cleaning products you use must be safe for both the tiles and the grout.

  • Cleaning products. Always read the labels of any cleaning products that you use. Cleaning products should be non-acidic and non-alkaline. Avoid products that contain wax or oil.
  • Spills. Always wipe up spills on grout right away to help avoid staining. Even liquids that have dried may attract more dirt, leading to a messier floor.
  • Sealing grout. You might try sealing your grout again, assuming it was sealed when it was installed, if it seems to be attracting more stains.
  • Hydrogen peroxide. Ask your local home store specialist if hydrogen peroxide will work on your brand of grout to remove stubborn stains. Always test any tile or grout cleaner in a small, discreet area before you use it all over your floor.
  • Door mat. Have a mat at each entrance to catch dirt from incoming shoes. This can help keep your ceramic tile floor cleaner longer.
  • Steam cleaner. Instead of getting down on your hands and knees with a toothbrush to attack your dirty grout, rent a steam cleaner. Do not use any detergents, only hot water and pressure or an appropriate tile-cleaning product. Don't use any cleaner that has not been specifically recommended for the cleaner. A steam cleaner will get your grout and ceramic tile clean and may also pull up old cleaner reside and allergens. Make sure that you dump your cleaning water when it starts to get cloudy. Cloudy water equals a cloudy floor.

The Wrong Approach

Generally speaking, you simply sweep or vacuum away dirt and grit, then you wash the floor down with a mop and water. Voila! You have a clean floor. However, it is still possible to damage your floor. What are some of the practices that you should avoid when cleaning your ceramic tile floor?

  • Abrasive Metals. Do not use abrasive scouring pads or metals on your floor. Not only can these type of products scratch your tile, pieces of metal can become imbedded in your grout and rust.
  • Vacuuming. Do not use a vacuum with a stiff brush or a beater when you vacuum your floor. These will send dirt flying and could scratch the tile surface. Use a soft brush or tile attachment instead.
  • Soap. Do not use soap on your ceramic tile. Soap can actually leave a scummy surface on your tile, making it look dirty.
  • Vinegar. Do not use products that include vinegar on your tile floor. Using vinegar on ceramic tile can lead to a less-glossy, dull appearance.

A ceramic tile floor can add long-lasting beauty to your home. In comparison to other types of flooring, caring for tile tile is an easy, low-maintenance job.

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