For most of us, if home isn’t an oceanfront penthouse with plush carpets, or a sprawling wooden-floor duplex by our ranch, chances are – it is a normal house with a tiled floor.

Floor tiles are usually hard-wearing materials like natural stone or ceramic, traditionally set in mortar in specific patterns. Lately rubber, hard plastic and glass have also come up as alternatives which could even be used on top of plywood floor base.

Beautiful as they are, with polished surface, painted patterns or imprinted grooves; it is a significant challenge to clean tiles on the floor. Depending on the floor tiling material, it takes specialised tiled floor cleaning techniques to keep them in good health!

  1.  Natural Stone Tiles – One of the earliest kinds, natural stones materials include granite, marble, slate, limestone etc. Their texture requires the following cleaning and care steps:
    1. Dusting and Sweeping – Regular dusting with a broom, and sweeping the surface and ridges between the tiles with a fluffy mop keeps the loose dirt away.
    2. Mopping – Dip a clean mop in a bucket of warm water and run it across the floor to pick up residues and surface stains.
    3. Neutral pH cleaner – Stone tiles are porous and stain easily with liquid and oil spills. However, trying natural remedies like vinegar or lime juice (both acidic) could cause it to react with calcium in the stones and damage it. Alkaline substances like bleach cause dullness as well. Neutral cleaning liquids available in home stores are the best bet. If you don’t have access, dishwashing soap and hot water could do the trick. Mop again to take off the soap residue to avoid slippery surface.

Recommended product: Aqua Mix® Concentrated Stone & Tile Cleaner

  1. Ceramic (Porcelain) Tiles – Ceramic tiles are usually painted, or imprinted with grooves to make them less slippery. However, since ceramic tiles are glazed at high temperature, they form a protective coating against grime and dirt. It does need the following cleaning steps:
    1. Broom and dustpan – Dust off loose dirt regularly with a broom and dustpan to clean tiles on the floor.
    2. Warm-water and household detergent/ vinegar – Unlike stone floors, the glazed ceramic is far more resistant to chemicals. A good detergent with a cloth or mop dipped in warm water will cut the greasy dirt. For stubborn stains, vinegar mixed with warm water is effective. Use a scrubbing brush for better results around the floor edges and corner grooves. It takes off stains and also removes soap scum.
    3. Hydrogen Peroxide/ Oxygen Bleach – Peroxide or any oxygen rich bleach is perfect for cleaning the grouts and getting rid of persistent stains. The longer you can soak the surfaces (without letting it dry) to let the free radical oxygen react with dirt and loosen it up, the better. Safe for kids and pets, and require minimal scrubbing. Capable of tackling even red wine or beet juice stains.

Recommended product: Ajax Oxygen Bleach Powder Cleanser, Swiffer® Wet Jet sweeper

  1. Rubber/ Plastic Tiles – Surfaces exposed to heavy traction, dampness or high temperature usually employ rubber or plastic tiles. Factories, gyms, garages or dance floors are good examples. Tiled floor cleaning is a little different for these surfaces:
    1. Vacuum Cleaning – One of the great advantages of rubber or plastic floors is that vacuum cleaners (otherwise presumed effective only for carpeted floors) can be used to pick up loose dirt from the surfaces
  2. Baking Soda paste – A home-made paste of baking soda and a sponge cleaner/ nylon scrubber is excellent for regular maintenance of plastic and rubber tiles. Avoid acidic solutions or steel-wool scrubs, both of which can scar or damage the surface.
  3. Toothpaste – Surprised? For problematic urine stains from kids or pets, toothpaste is a great antidote. The fluoride base helps take off tricky stains
  4. Vinyl Cleaners – Factory floors and gyms employing these tiles usually have recommended vinyl cleaners from manufacturers which prevent the sealing from being eaten away while keeping it clean.

Recommended product: Roppe Vinyl Cleaner

Following the above steps regularly with your tiled floor can keep your surface clean and shining for years. And remember, prevention is better than cure. Investing in good quality sealing material, and re-sealing from time to time is a good way to keep your grout and floor tiles from looking dull and dingy.