Cleaning the floor is never fun; but fortunately, some types of flooring make the job much less of a chore. In particular, ceramic tile is especially popular because it’s extremely low maintenance and easy to clean. In most cases, you can clean tile with a mild cleaning solution diluted with warm water.
However, sometimes life presents us with challenges — including tough stains that won’t come out, no matter how hard you scrub.
Cleaning Equipment: What to Use for Tile Flooring
Depending on the type of cleaning job you’ll be doing, you’ll need at least some of these items:
- Rubber gloves
- Cleaning rags
- Paper towels
- Scrub brushes of various sizes
- Toothbrush (or electric toothbrush) for grout
- Broom and dustpan
- Commercial cleaning products
- Baking soda
- Hydrogen peroxide
- White vinegar
- Paint thinner
- Soda water
- Warm or hot water
- Empty spray bottle
- Wood craft stick (blunt-edge) or silicone-tipped stick
How to Clean Hard Stains and Marks on Tile Flooring
To remove stubborn stains from tile, it’s a good idea to first try all the conventional methods you use to clean your floors. If the usual cleaning products aren’t doing the trick, then it’s time to try a few of these DIY methods.
Important note: Before applying any type of cleaning product, first check to see if your floor manufacturer offers a tile stain removal guide. Also, make sure that the product you’re using — even if it’s a mild DIY solution — is safe for your floors. Some basic home products, such as vinegar, can wreak havoc on some types of tile (such as marble, see notes below), so always check first before applying anything.
Coffee, Tea, Fruit Juice or Wine Stains
- Saturate a cleaning cloth or paper towels with hydrogen peroxide, and apply this to the stains.
- Rinse thoroughly.
- Wash the area with club soda (make sure it’s not flat) and hot water. The carbonated soda will help cut the grease.
Ink Stains or Permanent Marker Stains
Here are three methods:
1. Dry Eraser
- Rub the stain with a dry eraser cleaning sponge, then wipe down with warm soapy water, rinse and dry.
2. Peroxide and Oxygen Cleaner
- Saturate a cloth with hydrogen peroxide and place it on the stain. Blot up the ink with the cloth, pressing firmly. Make sure to use a clean part of the cloth with each area so you won’t spread the stain.
- Saturate another clean cloth with hydrogen peroxide and lay it on the stain for five minutes.
- Rinse with water. If there’s any ink residue, apply several drops of an oxygen-based cleaner (the type that bubbles up) to the stain residue, and scrub with a soft brush. Let sit for 15 minutes, then rinse with water and dry.
3. Diluted Bleach
Important note: For cleaning tile floors with bleach, the recommended ratio is ¾ cup of bleach for one gallon of water. For disinfecting an area, experts recommend a 10-to-one ratio, with one cup of bleach mixed with ten cups of water. If you’re spot-cleaning stains with only a small amount of water, you’ll want to use just a few drops of bleach.
- Saturate a cloth with the diluted beach mixture and place it on the stain. Leave for around 15 minutes or until the stain is gone, then rinse the area thoroughly with plain hot water.
Important note: For cleaning any type of blood stains, it’s crucial to wear rubber gloves. These will protect your hands not only from the blood but also from the strong chemicals in the cleaning solution.
- Using the 10-to-one ratio for disinfecting, fill a bucket with one cup of bleach and ten cups of hot water, and mix the solution thoroughly. Pour the diluted bleach over the stain — or you can also put the solution in a spray bottle and spray it on the tile.
- Wipe the area with a towel, cloths or paper towels. Repeat the first step again, and this time leave the solution until it evaporates — by then, the bleach smell should be gone. This will disinfect the area.
Important note: In some cases, the bleach solution might actually remove the bloodstain as well. If it doesn’t, then proceed to the next steps.
- Rinse the area thoroughly with water to remove all traces of the bleach (this will prevent bleach residue/fumes from interacting with the cleaner you’re going to use).
- Saturate a cloth with hydrogen peroxide and place it on the stain. Let it sit for several minutes. The peroxide should absorb the bloodstain.
- Rinse with warm/hot water and dry thoroughly.
If any of these DIY solutions don’t work, you can try your luck with one of the many commercial stain removers available. Just be sure to read the label first to ensure that the solution won’t damage your tiles.
Gum, Tar or Wax Stains
- Apply bagged ice cubes or an ice pack to the area and let this sit until the staining substance is cold and has solidified.
- Using a blunt-edge wooden craft stick or silicone-tipped stick (this will prevent scratching the tile), remove as much of the substance as you can.
- Wipe with paint thinner, making sure not to get any on the grout.
- Rinse with water and dry.
Cleaning Hard Water Stains
We all know that certain foods and beverages, blood, hair dye, lipstick and other substances are notorious for leaving hard-to-remove stains, but did you know that water can also be a culprit? If you live in an area where the water contains high levels of magnesium and calcium, this so-called “hard water” can leave mineral deposits on your tiles.
While most other stains are caused by substances spilling on the floor, these mineral deposit stains can appear just from turning on the sink or the shower. Plus, they’re made all the worse when you step in the shower or tub, because the dirt from your feet gets ground into the mineral deposits and stays there, making the stains look even grungier than before.
To remove hard water stains from tile, all you need is a roll of paper towels or cleaning cloths and a bottle of white vinegar.
- First, double up several paper towels (or use cleaning cloths) and saturate them with vinegar.
- Next, place the saturated towels on the affected tiles. Leave them there for at least eight hours.
- Remove the towels. You should see a marked difference; but if you still see a lot of mineral residue, repeat the process until the tiles look clean.
Important note: Do not apply vinegar to marble tiles or natural stone floor tiles without first making a test, because the acid in vinegar might spoil the surface. To make a surface test, soak a cotton swab with vinegar and swipe it over a small, undetectable area on the tile, then leave it for several hours. Rinse the tile and check to see if the finish has been altered by the vinegar.
Cleaning Stains on Grout
Cleaning grout can pose a challenge, because grout is porous and can absorb stains, making them difficult to remove.
1. Vinegar/Hot Water Method
- First, wipe down the area with hot water to remove surface dirt.
- Next, fill an empty spray bottle with a mixture of half hot water, half white vinegar.
- Spray the solution on the grout, then let it stand for five minutes.
- Scrub the grout with a soft toothbrush. For extra power without extra effort, use an electric toothbrush at a high setting.
- Rinse the area with water.
Important note: Don’t use a metal brush — it will scratch the tile and could even pull pieces from the grout.
2. Sandpaper Method
Fold the sandpaper, then rub the creased edge along the stained grout line, going back and forth until the stain is gone. Rinse with hot water.
3. Pencil Eraser Method
Take a pencil eraser and rub it along the stained grout line, going back and forth until the stain is gone. Rinse with hot water.
4. Baking Soda/Peroxide Method
This method is ideal for porous tile such as marble because you won’t need to use vinegar or any other acidic solution.
- In an empty spray bottle, mix one-part peroxide with two parts baking soda.
- Spray the solution on the stained grout, and scrub the area with a soft brush. Be sure to use a soft brush on porous or marble tile so it won’t scratch the surface.
- You can also make a paste of two parts baking soda mixed with one part water. Apply the paste to the stain, let it stay overnight, and then scrub the stain with a soft nylon brush. Rinse the area with hot water when you’ve finished.
However you decide to clean grout, once the area is thoroughly clean, let it dry for 24 hours. You can protect the grout from further stains by applying a silicone-based grout sealer, which is specially formulated to repel dirt and resist stains. If the grout is in a high-traffic area, be sure to apply this sealer at least every two years.
How to Properly Care for Tiles
It’s important to clean your tile floors regularly so that moisture and dirt won’t accumulate. According to the experts, you should try to fit in a regular wet flooring cleaning at least once a week for your bathroom, and every two weeks for your kitchen. In addition to routine mopping, you should also sweep or vacuum the floor at least once a week. Otherwise, dirt and grit can build up and scratch the surface of your lovely tile.
Protecting Your Flooring: Things You Should Avoid
- Stain removal products and cleaners that aren’t compatible with your flooring — always read the labels and, if necessary, check with your flooring manufacturer.
- Hard bristle or wire brushes, or steel wool pads: These will scratch your tile.
- Chemical cleaners that might interact with each other. For example, ammonia is notorious for interacting with other cleaners, so always read labels before using.
- Chemical cleaners that emit fumes. Use these sparingly, and be sure to work in a ventilated area whenever possible. Keep kids and pets away while you’re cleaning.
- Wearing certain types of high heels or cleats that can scratch your tile.
- Dropping heavy objects — this can break your tile.
- Dirt accumulation: This is a tile floor’s worst enemy.
- Spills: Wipe them up immediately, or they’ll discolor your tile. After cleaning, always dry your floor thoroughly.
- Oil-based cleaners: When used on glazed or shiny tiles, oil-based cleaners will create a too-slippery surface that can cause accidents.
Buying Ceramic Tile Flooring at Express Flooring
If you’re shopping for ceramic tile flooring and you live in or next Phoenix or Tucson, Arizona, you’ll want to contact Express Flooring for a free in-home estimate and design consultation. With more than a million feet of in-stock inventory, Express Flooring carries all the best name brands in ceramic tile flooring, as well as carpet flooring, laminate and vinyl flooring, natural stone tile, and hardwood flooring.
This might sound overwhelming; but the good news is you won’t even need to leave your house because Express Flooring brings all the swatches, samples and catalogs you’ll need right to your living room. With the help of one of our design consultants, you can choose the perfect flooring for your home and lifestyle. Once you choose, we’ll give you an affordable flooring sale and installation price that includes everything, including next-day installation. We’ll even remove and replace your furniture, so you won’t have to lift a finger.
Why Buy Ceramic Tile from Express Flooring?
- Free in-home design consultation and estimate
- Low discount flooring sale and installation deal
- Next-day delivery
- Expert installation, plus furniture removal/replacement
- Lifetime installation warranty
- Affordable financing plan
- Year-round discounts
- Discounts for seniors, teachers, public service workers and government employees
If you’re ready to start shopping for beautiful ceramic tile — or any other type of flooring — and you’re near Phoenix or Tucson, be sure to call or email Express Flooring for a free in-home estimate and design consultation. That’s all you have to do, because we’ll do the rest. Once you make the call, you can be days away from having beautiful, luxurious decorator ceramic tile in your home, at a price you can afford.