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Do's and Don'ts for Cleaning Tile Floors

Posted: Monday, May 9, 2011

Do's and don'ts for cleaning floor tilesCeramic tile is a great addition to any home or office. It's durable, beautiful, and easy to maintain. But even though it's a maintenance-gem, you definitely want to use the best types of products and avoid any cleaning methods that might actually cause damage to a ceramic tile floor — because it can be done.

One of the main characteristics of ceramic is that it is porous. So the liquids and chemicals you apply to a ceramic floor can and often do seep, even if not too deep, into the tiny pores of the tiles, as well as the grout, especially if your seals have been worn down or are thin. One recommendation by the This Old House website is to wet down your floor with just water before you use any chemical products on it. That way, the water seeps down first and sort of "blocks" the chemical from seeping too far down into the tile body, and when the floor is rinsed, the cleaner is first to go.

Ceramic tiles most often come with a surface coating, or glaze that does double-duty. It adds a gloss or shine but also protects the more porous levels of the material. So it's really important for those glazes to stay in tip-top shape. To protect the finish, you don't want to use any harsh abrasive cleaners, even if you have some stains or dirt that doesn't seem to come up with regular cleaning (just try using a paste made of water and baking soda and a cloth to remove stuck-on material or stains). Also avoid using cleaners that are acid-based because they can damage the complex silicates in the glaze. Keep that glaze intact at all costs.

Basically you just want to keep a ceramic floor swept and debris-free by using a broom, dust mop, or vacuum. Do this regularly, and depending on your traffic, you'll just need to use a low pH mild detergent (always remember to dry the floor with a soft cloth to avoid streaks) periodically. The gentlest and least invasive method is best. You can even get away with using just water.

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