Textured tiles are an excellent option for flooring because they are elegant, safe, and durable if properly maintained. However, cleaning textured tile floors can a bit tricky, as the texture and grout create cracks where dirt can hide.
What is textured tile?
First off, what do we mean when we say "textured tile"? Quite simply, it's any tile surface that does not have a totally smooth, polished surface. Flooring that has some texture is considered safer, especially in areas of your home that frequently get wet, because it is much less slippery than a polished surface. Here are a few examples of the most common textured floor tiles.
Porcelain or ceramic tile that is designed to resemble wood planks or parquet is gaining in popularity. The best examples are almost indistinguishable from the real thing, but faux wood tile is totally resistant to water and never needs to be refinished. I love it for kitchens, bathrooms, and mudrooms, but it can be used anywhere in the home.
Other textured ceramics
Textured ceramic tile comes in a wide array of patterns, shapes, and sizes, from large-format tile to tiny mosaics. Some textured ceramic tile mimics real stone, while other designs add bold color or pattern to your room.
Cut into uniform shapes, natural stone tile adds classic good looks to any room. Stone like slate, granite, quartzite, travertine, sandstone, and marble are popular choices. Some are polished slick, but for damp areas, I recommend more of a honed or tumbled finish. Some natural stones may have their own cleaning requirements, but the steam method outlined below is usually a safe choice because it is chemical-free and won't react with the stone.
How to steam-clean textured tiles
One of the best ways to clean textured tile floors is to use a steam mop. If you're unfamiliar, this is a cleaning device that uses the power of hot steam to pull all the dirt from the floor onto a microfiber pad, disinfecting at the same time. You can steam clean not only ceramic. porcelain, and natural stone floors, but laminate, vinyl, concrete, and, in some cases, wood floors. Almost all steam mops can be used on textured tiles. They don't even require chemicals.
My home in Ballard had stained concrete flooring, which is similar to textured ceramic tile. I got very poor results when I tried to wet mop the floor, as the cleaners would leave unsightly residue, and the damp mop just seemed to push the dirt around. When I switched to the steam method below, my floors became much easier to maintain.
Step-by-step guide to steam-cleaning ceramic tile floors
Step 1: Remove loose dirt
Start by cleaning the floor with a vacuum cleaner. It will remove dust, lint, and debris from the surface. Your steam mop won't work nearly as well if there is loose dirt on the surface of the floor. If you don't have time to vacuum, you can sweep the space.
Step 2: Put a microfiber pad on your steam mop
Fit a fresh pad onto your steam mop. These microfiber pads are washable and reusable. Most steam mops come with one to three pads. Depending on how dirty your floor is, you will have to periodically swap out pads during the cleaning process. I found that generally one pad would clean one large room or two smaller rooms.
Step 3: Steam-mop your floor
Now it's time to clean! Start on one side and continue cleaning from there. Wear socks, and try to only walk on sections of the floor that haven't been cleaned yet. Be careful not to hold the machine in one place for too long, as the high temperatures could theoretically damage or crack the tiles, although I have never heard of this actually happening. Push the mop slowly and steadily in front of you as you walk backwards, using broad, sweeping strokes.
Step 4: Let floor dry
Leave the floor to dry for 5 to 10 minutes after cleaning. Because not much moisture is left on the floor, it doesn't take long to dry. Your floor is clean at this point, and the steam has disinfected it to some degree (depending on how hot the surface got during cleaning).
Step 5: Seal or polish
This step is optional and will depend on your own aesthetic preferences and the type of tile you have. Once the surface of your floor is totally clean, you can choose to seal it with a liquid floor polish, which leaves a hard, glossy coating when it dries. Personally, I liked the glossy look on my concrete floors, but I definitely wouldn't have used this type of product on matte-finish ceramic tile or tumbled stone tile. I used mostly ZEP products (High-Traffic Floor Polish or Wet Look Floor Polish; the results looked the same to me). Bona and Quick Shine make similar products, but they don't seem to be as readily available in the gallon size as ZEP.
To apply, get a heavy-duty microfiber mop with a flat head. (Your lightweight Swiffer-type mop won't be very easy to use.) Put the floor polish in a small squirt bottle and squirt a small amount onto the totally clean floor. Be sure to plan your application because you won't be able to walk on the fresh polish until it dries. Use the microfiber mop to spread a thin coating of the polish evenly over the floor. Don't leave any dry spots or puddles. Let the floor dry for about 15 minutes, and you're done.
Stripping floor polish
The manufacturers recommend periodically stripping the layers of polish away with another product made for that purpose. I kept waiting for my floors to become dull with layer after layer of polish, but they never did, so I only had to strip the floor once in several years.
How to deep-clean your textured tile & grout
If you have tried the steam-cleaning method above, and your textured tiles or grout lines are still dirty, you may have to do some heavier scrubbing. I recommend a mild, natural abrasive: baking soda.
Use baking soda & vinegar to deep-clean dirty tile & grout
Step 1: Vacuum or sweep
Remove loose dirt. Vacuum or sweep dust and debris from the floor. For sweeping, use a soft bristle broom and sweep in two directions. Follow the path of the tiles first, then sweep diagonally to ensure a thorough cleaning. If you have previously applied tile sealer or polish over dirty tiles or grout, you will have to use a removal product before deep cleaning. (See the "Stripping floor polish" section above.)
Step 2: Make a baking-soda paste
Grab a box of baking soda, pour it into a bowl, and stir in just enough water to form a loose paste.
Step 3: Scrub in the baking soda
Dip a handheld scrub brush with fairly soft bristles into the paste, and scrub it into the tile, focusing especially on any obvious stains and the grout.
Step 4: Make a vinegar solution
While the baking soda mixture begins to do its work, mix up a 50-50 solution of distilled vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray it liberally over your baking-soda covered tile. You will see the acid in the vinegar react with the alkaline baking soda mixture and fizz up. Do some more scrubbing and then let the mixture sit for about five minutes.
Step 5: Rinse with a damp mop
Now it's time to rinse. Fill a clean bucket with water and grab a mop. Make sure your mop head is clean, or else you will just be adding dirt back to your floor. Use the wet mop to remove all the baking soda and vinegar from the floor. Rinse the mop frequently in the bucket and wring it out. As soon as the rinse water becomes visibly dirty, dump it out and refill the bucket with fresh water.
Textured tile floors are a beautiful addition to your home. If you're considering a remodel of your bathroom, kitchen, or your entire home, contact us and we'll get the job done. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with us today to discuss your ideas. We will be happy to help you plan the next steps.