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  • Writer's pictureRBG Janitorial

How do you make ceramic tile shine?

How do you clean ceramic tile?

A clean tiled hallway
Ceramic tile is easy to clean.

A dirty tile floor makes the whole room look neglected. Fortunately, the greatest thing about ceramic tile is that it’s very durable and easy to clean.

Ceramic or porcelain tile is glazed for a shiny, protective finish. It becomes dingy when grease or soap builds up on the surface and traps grime. Standing water, even a small amount like condensation or humidity, can then allow bacteria or mold to grow, feeding on the soiled surface of the tile.

A greasy floor is slick; a soapy floor is sticky.

A dirty tile floor
The most common cause of dingy tile is soap residue.

Using too much soap in your mop water or not rinsing the floor after mopping leaves soap residue, which makes the floor sticky. Soap also interacts chemically with hard water, forming a stubborn mineral buildup we call hard water deposits. These deposits also collect grime, further contributing to the floor’s overall poor appearance.

A greasy floor is slick, and traps dust and dirt to form a slimy, grungy floor. Kitchens, factories, restaurants, and other locations that use a high amount of grease or oil are familiar with the dangers of slippery ceramic tile.

Once the type of soil is identified, it's easily removed with the correct cleaner.

Soil is easily removed with the correct cleaner.
A clean tile floor
Acids remove minerals; alkalis remove grease.

If you are cleaning soap residue, adding more soap is not the answer. When cleaning tile in your home, distilled white vinegar may be all it takes to restore the tile to pristine beauty. Vinegar is a mild acid and effective in removing soap residue, and has a slightly disinfectant effect on surface mold and fungus. (Read here about why we don’t use bleach as a disinfectant.)

It is important to remember that grout is made of sand and will dissolve in acid. Leaving any acidic cleaner on a tile floor can potentially destroy the grout, loosening the tile. If you are using a grout cleaner (or any product, for that matter), follow the package instructions exactly and rinse the tile well after cleaning.

Soap or detergent is used to cut and remove grease from a surface. (Read here about how soap works.) For more muscle in your mop, add a few tablespoons of baking soda. Adding baking soda to your mop water will help in a couple ways. Baking soda is alkaline, like soap, and as such, is good for cleaning grease. Soap is made with oils, though, whereas baking soda is a salt. The rough texture of baking soda works as a scouring agent to loosen and lift stains. It is also a natural deodorizer, absorbing and neutralizing odors.

Restrooms at the office or other public place receive much higher foot traffic than your bathroom at home. Tile floors are cleaned with acidic cleaner to remove mildew, calcium buildup, grease, and soap residues. Although distilled vinegar is a relatively strong acid (usually around 2.4 pH), professional cleaners are needed. Professional cleaning products have foaming agents, scouring agents, disinfectants, fragrances, and other additives for large-scale deep cleaning of commercial tile floors.

Proper maintenance should prevent unsightly buildup on tile. If you are concerned about the maintenance of the floors at your workplace, contact RBG Janitorial for a free site inspection.


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