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How to Clean 4 Different Tile Types

Cleaning and maintenance practices depend on the materials and textures

Tile Types Michael Glass on Unsplash

It goes without saying that taking care of your facility’s tiles is the best way to ensure they’re always looking brand new and in optimal condition. From lobbies to commercial kitchens to public restrooms, every commercial cleaner knows the importance of doing the job right.

To help you master the cleaning and upkeep of tiles in commercial spaces, here are some key considerations for cleaning four tile types you may find in your facility: natural stone, porcelain, nonslip, and high-gloss. These considerations will equip you with the know-how for tackling tough dirt and daily maintenance to optimize the cleanliness, durability, and longevity of tiled areas in your facility.

1. Natural stone tile

Nothing beats the natural beauty of stone, but due to its porous properties, natural stone tiles require periodic maintenance to ensure they remain well protected and clean. First, when you’re faced with removing tough stains and dirt, particularly in commercial kitchens or high-traffic areas, choose the right cleaning product for the material to get the best results.

Despite the hard exterior of natural stone, standard cleaning agents may be too acidic and can actually remove the sealant layer or damage the stone itself. With this in mind, choose a high-quality detergent that’s specifically designed for use on all types of natural stone, including polished marble, slate, granite, and limestone, all popular choices for commercial spaces.

A key consideration when cleaning natural stone is confirming that the cleaning solution you’ve selected is pH neutral. Opting for cleaning products that contain linseed oil , for example, will ensure they’re perfectly suited for cleaning delicate surfaces without damaging the stone. Dilute two to five capfuls (depending on how dirty the tiles are and how large the area is) in warm water, wash the floor with a mop, and allow it to dry. This low-maintenance option is particularly useful for large-scale cleaning as it doesn’t require an additional rinse and will also make natural stone tiles shine.

One final note about natural stone: Avoid using bristle brushes or scouring pads as these can etch the stone’s surface and impact the integrity of the stone itself. Instead, if you’re dealing with tough dirt, apply a heavier concentrate of cleaner to the affected area and allow it to soak for a few minutes to break down the dirt—then simply wipe clean with warm water.

 2. Porcelain tile

Porcelain and ceramic are often go-to tile types for commercial environments as they’re hard wearing and require minimal upkeep—making them ideal for high-traffic areas. However, to guarantee the longevity of these robust tiles, it pays to clean them once or twice weekly.

When tackling porcelain tiles, first you need to know which type of tile you’re dealing with: polished, textured, or matte? Knowing this will help you figure out the most appropriate cleaning method to implement.

Polished porcelain tiles require very little maintenance and are easy to clean, especially for floors covered in larger-format tiles, which have fewer grout lines to consider. Start by vacuuming the area or using a dust mop to sweep up any surface debris. For wall and floor tiles, wipe them over with a soft-headed mop using warm water and tile cleaner or mild detergent. For high-gloss porcelain tiles, dilute the solution to half the strength that you’d use on most surfaces, then rinse thoroughly and dry with a cloth for a gleaming finish.

Textured tiles bring a nice sense of depth and tactility to walls and floors, but when it comes to cleaning, they do require a little extra maintenance compared to smooth, polished versions. With the right tactics and level of upkeep, however, the job doesn’t have to be too labor intensive. For floors and walls, begin by removing surface dirt and dust with a vacuum or brush, then saturate the surface with a neutral cleaning solution and allow it to settle for 10 minutes. To finish, scrub the tiles with a soft-bristle brush, working in two directions to get into every crevice.

3. Nonslip tile

As with textured porcelain, nonslip tiles require a certain degree of added care. Their antislip properties mean that the surface isn’t completely smooth and can retain more dirt than standard tiles. To the uninitiated, reaching for an industrial-strength detergent to work on this dirt may be your first thought, as it seems as though mild cleaners may not cut through the grease and grime. However, this isn’t the case; harsh chemicals could damage the integrity and nonslip properties of the tile.

To remove surface dirt, carry out the usual sweep or vacuum, dampen the floor by pouring a small amount of water on the tiles, and move it around gently with a soft-bristled brush. Next, use a biological cleaner with a neutral pH rather than strong chemical-based cleaners like bleach to wipe over the surface. This will achieve a deep clean without leaving a film on the tiles that can, in fact, trap dirt underneath and leave them looking lackluster.

4. High-gloss tile

High-gloss tiles are notorious for showing watermarks, grease, grime, and even fingerprints, so they need to be well maintained to have them looking pristine at all times. This doesn’t necessarily require extensive or special cleaning techniques—it’s more about frequent cleaning to keep them looking their best.

Liquid detergents are primed for removing surface grime, but they can leave visible residue on the surface, which takes away from the beauty of the high-gloss finish. With this in mind, clean the whole area in one go, and after applying your cleaning solution, rinse the tiles over with clean water and dry them with a cloth rather than air-drying. This will give the tiles a sparkling finish free of watermarks and streaks.

When it comes to cleaning and maintaining tiles in any environment, do your research first to avoid abrasive cleaning that could damage the tile and produce a less-than-impressive end result. With the right cleaning products and equipment for the tile type and regular maintenance, you’re sure to make light work of even large-scale cleaning operations—leaving you with tiled walls and floors that will gleam for years to come.

Suhayl Laher

Suhayl Laher

Suhayl Laher works at Tiles Direct, one of the UK’s largest independent tile distributors and retailers—bringing customers a huge range of products for stylish interiors, from luxurious large format tiles for kitchens to dainty mosaics and decorative designs for bathrooms, living rooms, and more.

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