Ceramic tiles are popular as design features within many areas of today’s modern homes. They vary in size, style, color and cost, and are popularly used because of their beauty as well as their ease to clean. Whether used as flooring or on walls, ceramic tiles can be maintained easily if you follow some standard procedures for their upkeep.

Ceramic tiles are made from clay that contain silicates. To produce a tile, this clay mixture is formed and baked at high temperatures. Ceramic tiles can be purchased in two forms: unglazed or glazed. Unglazed tiles typically require more cleaning maintenance because they are not coated with an outer shell. All tiles, however, can, and should be, routinely cleaned using a plain water solution. By wiping down tiles on a daily basis using water, then drying them with a clean cloth or sponge/sponge mop, you can avoid the build-up of dirt, mold, mildew, and hard water stains that can gather on the surface.

What holds ceramic tiles together is a substance called “grout”. Grout is a mixture made of cement and fine sand, or comprised of acrylic materials such as silicon, etc. Grout also tends to accumulate mold, mildew and stains that often result from the build-up of hard water and calcium deposits. If you notice that the grout between your tiles has begun to mildly discolor and your tiles have a dull finish, you can make a solution of 1/4 cup of mild detergent added to a one-gallon bucket of water. Take a sponge, dip it into the water, and clean over the areas that are affected by the dirt. Once you have cleaned all the areas thoroughly, rinse down the tiles and grout using plain water.

When cleaning tiles, do not use any harsh abrasives, such as scouring powder, as these cleansers may scratch and damage the tile’s surface. Unless a cleanser’s label specifically reads that the cleanser is safe for use on tiled surfaces, do not use the product.

For more severely grimy tiles and grout, where mild detergent cleaning does not cleanse thoroughly, you can use a solution made of chlorine bleach and water to remove any dirt present. Before making this solution, be sure that the environment that you will be working in is well ventilated. Additionally, it is advisable that you place strong rubber gloves on your hands especially if you will be cleaning walled surfaces.

To make the solution, take one quart of chlorine bleach and mix it into two-gallons of water in a bucket. Once mixed, let the solution sit for approximately 15-20 minutes. Next, if cleaning walls, take a sponge or, if cleaning floors, a mop or soft bristle brush, and dip the tool into the solution. Take the sponge or mop/brush and rub it all over the dirty areas. Once all of the areas have been covered by the solution, let the solution remain on the surfaces, untouched, for approximately 10-20 minutes depending on the amount of grime present. After the time has elapsed, rinse down the whole area with plain water. Next, use the mild detergent and water solution procedure, explained previously, to remove any remaining traces of chlorine bleach. Finally, rinse down the area again using only plain water. Once all of the detergent solution has been rinsed away, wipe down the tiled surfaces with a clean cloth to dry the area thoroughly.

In between using these methods to clean your tiles, it is also recommended that you use a commercial mildew retardant spray on your tiles to prevent germs from accumulating on them. If you use these procedures on a routine basis, you will extend the life of your tiles and keep them looking good as new.