Tile in a hallway

Tile Tech How to Maintain and Care for Your Tile Floors, Walls, and Backsplashes

Jan 03, 2023

January 3, 2023

Tile products, from ceramic and porcelain to glass and natural stone, are surfacing materials that are meant to last. With proper care and maintenance, your tile floors, walls, and backsplashes will perform beautifully — and look good while doing it — for decades.

Ceramic and Porcelain Tile Care

All ceramic tile (including porcelain) is moisture-resistant, scratch-resistant, and stain-resistant. These characteristics also make tile very low maintenance. Here are some simple tips for cleaning and maintaining your beautiful ceramic and porcelain tile floors and walls.
  1. The first step in caring for ceramic and porcelain tile flooring is simply sweeping it. While a broom will get the bigger particles of the dry debris off the floor, a vacuum cleaner or an electrostatic cleaning tool such as a Swiffer (dry) will remove the tiniest particles for the cleanest possible start.
  2. Clean water is often all you need to mop your tile floor. Be sure to change the water frequently and use a chamois-type mop rather than a sponge mop (sponge mops tend to push dirty water into the grout lines). If you need a cleaning agent stronger than water for more stubborn grime, go with neutral cleaners made specifically for tile and grout. You can also use a mildly alkaline detergent (alkaline is any liquid with a pH higher than 7, 0-6 ph is acidic, and a neutral ph is 7). Alkaline cleaners are very effective at removing organic residues such as oils, greases, proteins, and other soils resistant to water alone. Spic and Span and Mr. Clean are examples of slightly alkaline detergents. Click here for a list of common household cleaners that are appropriate for variety of tile and grout stains.
  3. Avoid using harsh cleaners regularly. Frequently using alkaline cleaners with a high ph (like bleach) or acidic cleaners with a low ph (such as citrus or vinegar-based cleaning products) can break down some grout sealers.
  4. Rinsing is an important step in the maintenance procedure. After mopping your floors with a neutral or mildly alkaline cleaner, rinse with clean water to remove any cleaning agent residue, which could leave the tile dull and susceptible to more rapid soiling.

How to Clean Grout

Dirty grout means dingy-looking floors. Because traditional grout is cement based, it is porous and easily absorbs dirt, grease, and other soils. Moisture can get in the tiny holes, which can eventually lead to mold and mildew. Grout sealer helps ward off mold and mildew but is not foolproof because water and dirt can still seep through tiny cracks. To clean cement-based grout, you can use commercially prepared grout cleaners, a mild bleach solution, or a baking soda and water paste. For stubborn stains, let the cleaner sit for about ten minutes (or overnight for a baking soda paste), then scrub with a small brush. (Nylon or plastic scrubbers are handy and generally won't scratch —they are great tools for helping care for your tile and grout.) Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Acrylic grout, made of unsanded grout with latex and acrylic polymer additives, is stain and water-resistant. Acrylic grout will not discolor or accumulate mold. Epoxy grout, made of epoxy resins and filler powder, is waterproof and highly stain-resistant. Epoxy grout is ideal if you prioritize durability and easy maintenance.

Glass Tile Care

Many people love the look of sparkly glass tiles or mosaics for kitchen backsplashes and bathroom shower walls. Glass tiles are easy to clean, but because shower walls are subject to water stains and soap scum, they may require more frequent cleaning. A rag and some window cleaner are all you need. Equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle make for an ideal, inexpensive, eco-friendly glass tile cleaner. If you have hard water, the calcium and magnesium in the water may cause problem stains. Apply some vinegar and baking soda to the mineral stains and let the mixture bubble for a few minutes, then rinse and dry. Some people use toothpaste, which is okay once in a while if you are in a hurry, but it's more abrasive, so use it sparingly.

Kitchen backsplashes get greasy, and this is where you'll want to use a grease cutter. A half teaspoon of dishwashing liquid mixed with warm water in a spray bottle makes for quick backsplash cleaning. After spraying your glass tiled backsplash with the soap and water solution, wipe it with a damp sponge, wipe the soap and water solution off with a clean, damp cloth, and then dry with a soft cloth.

Natural Stone Tile Care

Dust mopping your natural stone tile floors is your first defense against the sand, dirt, and grit that do the most damage to natural stone surfaces. Placing mats or area rugs inside and outside entrances will help minimize the damage caused by these abrasive substances. The harsh substances in traditional cleaners easily damage natural stone tiles like slate, granite, marble, and limestone. Avoid abrasive or acidic cleaners because they can etch, scratch, dull, or discolor the surface. Clean spills immediately to prevent staining, and as with ceramic and porcelain tile, clear warm water may be all you need for regular cleaning. You can add a small amount of neutral (ph 7) all-purpose cleaner or dishwashing liquid, or purchase stone-specific cleaning solutions. Remove the dirty solution with a clean sponge and then dry.

For dirt, grease, and grime on natural stone backsplashes and floors, you’ll need to turn to a commercially prepared, heavy-duty stone cleaner and degreaser. Apply the cleaning solution per the manufacturer’s directions.

For stubborn tile stains, you can use a stone-specific poultice. A poultice is a non-acidic, absorptive clay cleaning powder mixed with liquid to form a paste. The paste is spread over the stained tile, covered with plastic, and left to work for one to two days. You may have to repeat the procedure to eradicate the stain. A poultice may not be enough if the stain has been there a long time and has penetrated the stone deeply. Use a poultice with caution as it may dull the finish of polished stone. As a last resort for badly damaged or worn natural stone, contact a professional stone restoration company.

Questions about how to care for your Crossville Studios tile? Never fear, your Crossville Studios tile pros are here! Reach out to any of our 27 locations for care and maintenance support for any of our tile products. We’re here for you!