Read more tips on how to clean marble countertops and tiles
Tiles, generally speaking, have an advantage over other types of flooring (such as carpet, hardwood) because of their sleek appearance, longevity and ease of maintenance. However, as easy as it may seem to maintain tiles, there are a few tricks to keep them looking as shiny and new as when they were installed. These practical guidelines show you how to remove stains from tiles and keep them sparkling.
Ceramic and vitrified tiles
Glazed ceramic and vitrified tiles have a protective sheen and feature high on the low-maintenance variety of tiles. Sweeping (or vacuuming), followed by mopping with a soft cloth with a mild detergent and warm water is sufficient for daily care.
To shine tiles that have become murky with residue from previous sloppy cleanings, vinegar or fresh lemon juice mixed with warm water for mopping is a great cleaning agent.
Marble, being a porous material, requires special care as it is prone to stains and scratches. A non-abrasive dish liquid soap, with a neutral pH, mixed with warm water is the best option for cleaning marble. Apply just enough solution to make tiles damp and then mop immediately. Don’t allow puddles of water to form on marble tiles.
Glass tiles are of the non-porous variety that makes them resistant to not only stains but also mould; but their shiny surfaces show finger prints, soap scum and water stains more easily. Remove soap stains with a regular window cleaner. For mineral deposits (caused by hard water), spray a solution of vinegar-water, apply a dash of baking soda to your cleaning cloth and rub lightly. Rinse with clean water before mopping the tiles dry.
Athangudi tiles are such that the more they are used, the shinier they become (that’s why they aren’t used as wall tiles). This means regular sweeping and swabbing. Once a week, mop the floor with warm water to which 10–15 drops of coconut oil have been added; this keeps the sheen and colour intact.
What’s special about Athangudi tiles?
Slate is a natural stone that is durable but can be easily scratched. Traditional cleaners contain chemicals that can damage the surface. Instead, clean the tiles with a stone-cleaning detergent. You could also use a mild detergent that doesn’t have acidic ingredients such as lemon or vinegar. For stains, half a cup of ordinary rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) mixed with a litre of water is a good cleaning agent. Never clean slate tiles with acid. It will eat right into the tile.
Brick is very porous and quickly absorbs grit and grime, requiring regular cleaning, Begin by dry sweeping, followed by mopping and cleaning the tiles with a vinegar–water solution (one part vinegar with 15 parts water). Alternately, mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda or borax to 4 litres of water, for mopping. To attack stubborn stains and dirt, use a stiff-bristled nylon scrubber.
Cleaning tiles wouldn’t be complete without cleaning the grout. Grout seals the tiles together, giving a finished look to the tiled surface. Some tiles (ceramic, glass, brick) show up grout lines more than others (vitrified, marble). Tile grout is prone to stains and mould, so sealing it is mandatory. This would normally be done at the tile laying stage.
Some basic dos and don’ts for all types of tiles
- Do sweep and mop regularly to avoid build up of dust and grime.
- Don’t leave spills unattended for a long time; they can stain or discolour tiles.
- Do not clean tiles (glazed or otherwise) with acids, strong soaps or detergents; they can irreversibly damage your tiles and stain the grout.
- Don’t scrub too hard or use abrasive cleaning applicators, such as steel wool.
- Dry or buff the tiles with a soft towel to avoid water spots.
- Use microfibre mops rather than cotton or sponge mops – they clean harder and smarter.
- Deep cleaning by a professional cleaning company twice a year, is a definite must-do to keep your tiles looking as good as new for a long time to come.