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How to Clean Porcelain Tile Floors

June 21, 2023

porcelain tile floor

Porcelain tile floors are a testament to beauty, sophistication, and practicality, a perfect amalgamation of elegance with robustness. They grace your homes and offices with their ethereal presence, promising longevity and durability that few other flooring options offer. However, these flooring marvels require a dedicated cleaning regimen tailored to their unique attributes to retain their pristine condition and ensure their longevity. Understanding the correct cleaning methods for different types of porcelain tiles—whether polished or unpolished—is fundamental to maintaining their charming aesthetics and structural integrity. This article provides you with an in-depth guide to effectively cleaning solution, keeping them as gleaming and inviting as the day they were laid.

Know Your Porcelain Tiles

Before you begin cleaning, it’s essential to know what kind of porcelain tiles you have. There are primarily two types: unglazed and glazed. Unglazed porcelain tiles have a natural, matte finish, while glazed porcelain tiles feature a glossy protective layer. The cleaning techniques for both types slightly differ, so identification is the first step toward proper maintenance.

Cleaning Supplies

To clean porcelain tile floors, you’ll need a few basic items:

  1. Mild Detergent or Porcelain Tile Cleaner: Mild detergents are suitable for cleaning porcelain tiles because they effectively remove dirt without damaging the tile’s surface. Porcelain-specific cleaners are available in the market and are specially formulated to care for this type of flooring. They’re designed to preserve the tile’s integrity, prevent discoloration, and maintain its shine. If you decide to use a commercially-prepared porcelain tile cleaner, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.
  2. Soft-bristle Broom or Vacuum Cleaner: Loose dust, dirt, and grit on your tile floors can act like sandpaper, causing scratches and wear over time. Regularly sweeping or vacuuming your floors is essential to maintaining their beauty. A soft-bristle broom will ensure that you can sweep away the dirt without scratching the surface of the tiles. On the other hand, a vacuum cleaner, especially one with a ‘hard floor’ setting, can be an excellent tool for removing dust and dirt from corners and crevices that a broom might miss.
  3. Microfiber Mop or Cloth: A microfiber mop or cloth is highly recommended for cleaning porcelain tiles. These are soft, super absorbent, and effective at trapping dirt, debris, and bacteria. Unlike traditional mops or cloth materials, Microfiber won’t scratch the surface of your tiles. Moreover, their high absorbency ensures that they don’t leave excess water on your floors, which could otherwise lead to water spots or damage.
  4. Warm Water: Warm water enhances the effectiveness of the cleaning solution, helping to dissolve dirt and grime faster than cold water. It also helps in even spreading and easy rinsing of the detergent or cleaner.
  5. Soft, Dry Towel: A soft, dry towel is crucial for drying your floors after washing them. Excess water can seep into the grout lines, leading to mold or mildew growth, or cause water spots on the tiles. Additionally, quick drying prevents the risk of slipping on the wet floor.


Remember, you should always avoid harsh or abrasive cleaners when cleaning porcelain tiles. These can cause damage to the tile surface, leading to dullness and scratches over time. Steel wool or harsh scrubbing tools can similarly damage the tiles and should be avoided. Also, always choose a cleaner that is pH-neutral. Acidic or alkaline cleaners can discolor the tiles and degrade the grout. A pH-neutral cleaner is gentle yet effective and maintains the color and integrity of your porcelain tiles.

Regular Cleaning Routine

  1. Sweep or Vacuum: The first step in your cleaning routine should be to remove loose dust and dirt. Use a soft-bristle broom or a vacuum cleaner to gently remove any debris from your floor. Be sure to reach into the corners and along baseboards where dust tends to accumulate.
  2. Mop the Floor: Fill a bucket with warm water and add a mild detergent or a special porcelain tile cleaner as per the instructions on the product label. Dampen your microfiber mop or cloth in the solution and wring out excess water. Mop your porcelain tile floor thoroughly, ensuring no soapy residue is left behind.
  3. Rinse Well: After mopping the floor with the cleaning solution, rinse the mop with clean water. Mop the floor again with clean water to remove all soap from the tiles. Excess soap can leave behind a dull film that detracts from the natural beauty of the porcelain.
  4. Dry the Floor: After rinsing, it’s crucial to dry your floor properly to avoid water spots or streaks. Use a soft towel or a microfiber cloth to dry the floor. Ensure that the floor is completely dry to prevent any slips or falls.

Dealing With Stains

Occasionally, you may notice stains or spots on your porcelain tiles. In such cases, a spot treatment may be necessary. Apply a small amount of your cleaning solution directly onto the stain and let it sit for about 10 minutes, then scrub gently with a soft brush or cloth. Rinse the area thoroughly with warm water and dry with a towel.

Cleaning Polished Porcelain Tile

Polished porcelain tiles have a sleek, shiny finish that adds a touch of elegance to any room. These tiles have been mechanically treated to achieve a mirror-like finish. Here’s how to clean them:

  1. Remove Loose Debris: Start by sweeping or vacuuming the tiles to remove any loose dirt or dust. This step is crucial as small particles can scratch the polished surface during cleaning.
  2. Prepare Cleaning Solution: Mix a mild detergent or a pH-neutral cleaning solution specifically designed for polished porcelain tiles with warm water in a bucket. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct proportions. Avoid using harsh chemicals or acidic solutions as they may damage the polished surface.
  3. Mop the Floor: Using a microfiber mop, gently mop the floor with the cleaning solution. Avoid using excessive water or allowing the solution to sit on the tiles for an extended period, as it could seep into the grout or under the tiles, causing potential damage.
  4. Rinse and Dry: Rinse the mop with clean water, then mop the floor again to remove any soap residue. After mopping, dry the floor immediately with a soft towel to prevent water spots, streaks, or damage from standing water.

Cleaning Unpolished Porcelain Tile

Unpolished porcelain tiles, also known as matte porcelain tiles, have a natural, slightly textured finish. Cleaning these tiles involves a similar process but with a few key differences:

  1. Remove Loose Debris: Begin by removing any loose dust or dirt with a soft-bristle broom or vacuum cleaner.
  2. Prepare Cleaning Solution: Use a mild detergent or a pH-neutral cleaner meant for unpolished porcelain tiles. Dilute it with warm water according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Pre-wash the Floor: Before applying the cleaning solution, wet the surface of the tiles with clean, warm water. This pre-washing process helps the tiles resist absorption of the cleaning solution into their slightly porous surface, making the cleaning process more effective.
  4. Mop the Floor: Using a microfiber mop, apply the cleaning solution to a manageable section of the floor. Allow it to sit for five minutes to loosen any grime, but do not allow the solution to dry on the tiles.
  5. Scrub as Needed: For tougher stains, scrub the tiles gently using a soft brush or cloth. Do not use steel wool or abrasive scrubbers as they can scratch the tile surface.
  6. Rinse and Dry: Rinse the area with clean water to remove the cleaning solution, then dry the tiles immediately with a soft, absorbent towel to prevent water stains or damage.

For both polished and unpolished porcelain tiles, regular cleaning and immediate attention to spills or stains will ensure that your floors remain beautiful and durable for years to come.


Q: Can I use vinegar or bleach to clean porcelain tiles?
A: Vinegar and bleach are both highly acidic and can damage your porcelain tiles over time. They can cause discoloration and degrade the tile’s surface. It’s best to use a pH-neutral cleaner for porcelain tiles.

Q: How often should I clean my porcelain tile floors?
A: For general upkeep, it’s recommended to sweep or vacuum your porcelain tile floors daily to remove dust and debris. Mopping should be done weekly or as needed, depending on the foot traffic the area receives.

Q: Can I use a steam mop on porcelain tiles?
A: Yes, a steam mop can be used on porcelain tiles. However, ensure to use it according to the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid using it on unsealed grout lines as it can cause damage.

Q: What should I do if a stain doesn’t come out?
A: If a stain doesn’t come out with regular cleaning, you may need a commercial porcelain tile cleaner designed for deep stains. However, always test it in an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t discolor the tile.

Q: Can I use a scrub brush on porcelain tiles?
A: It’s best to avoid using scrub brushes or any abrasive cleaning tools on porcelain tiles as they can scratch the surface. Instead, use a soft cloth or sponge.

Q: How can I restore the shine to my glazed porcelain tiles?
A: Regular cleaning with a pH-neutral cleaner and avoiding harsh or abrasive materials will help maintain the shine on glazed porcelain tiles. If the tiles still look dull, consider using a commercial tile polish that’s safe for porcelain.

Q: What can cause porcelain tiles to crack or chip?
A: While porcelain tiles are very durable, they can crack or chip if heavy objects are dropped on them. Loose or shifting tiles due to underlying surface or grout issues can also lead to cracking. Regular maintenance of both the tiles and grout can help prevent damage.

Q: How can I clean the grout between my porcelain tiles?
A: Grout can be cleaned using a mild, bleach-free cleaner and a soft brush. For stubborn stains, a grout stain remover can be used. However, always test any product in an inconspicuous area first to ensure it won’t discolor the grout or tiles.

Q: Can I use wax on my porcelain tiles?
A: It’s generally not recommended to use wax on porcelain tiles. Wax can build up over time, causing the tiles to look dull and attracting more dirt and grime. Instead, maintain the tiles with regular cleaning and use a tile polish if necessary.

Q: Do I need to seal my porcelain tiles?

A: Glazed porcelain tiles don’t need to be sealed as they already have a protective layer. However, unglazed porcelain tiles are more porous and may benefit from sealing to prevent stains and damage. Always check with the tile manufacturer or a flooring professional to see if your specific tiles need sealing.

Final Thoughts

Regular cleaning is key to maintaining the beauty and durability of your porcelain tile floors. Remember to use non-abrasive and pH-neutral cleaning products and tools to avoid any damage. With regular sweeping, mopping, and occasional spot cleaning, your porcelain tiles can retain their stunning aesthetic appeal and last many years. The effort you put into maintaining your floors will surely pay off in the long run, rewarding you with a clean and welcoming home.

The post How to Clean Porcelain Tile Floors first appeared on Flooring Supply Shop Blog.

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