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Decorative ceramic tile is a highly popular flooring choice. It comes in an array of finishes, colors and patterns, and is highly resistant to cuts and stains. Nonetheless, proper tile floor cleaning requires a consistent sweeping routine, advanced floor-care planning to prevent problems, and careful use of floor cleaning products.

Here are some floor-care tips to keep tile surfaces looking good for years to come.

Basic Care

A steady cleaning routine is important, since decorative tile floors with irregular or textured surfaces are magnets for dirt and miniscule airborne particles. A consistent sweeping routine can loosen and remove most of that accumulated debris. In tough-to-reach areas, such as corners, edges or tile surfaces under furnishings, consider using a vacuum cleaner attachment to improve tile floor maintenance. While a vacuum cleaner can be used in cleaning tile floors, the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) suggests using one without a beater bar to avoid dulling or scratching tile floor surfaces.

Preventive Maintenance

You can extend the life of decorative tile floors by following some simple tips, which include:

  • Using mats. When tile floors are right inside an exterior entrance door, walk-off mats can help trap dirt, minimize moisture and prevent tracking.
  • Using glides. While tile flooring is hard, its surface can scratch under repeated abuse from table or chair leg movement. To boost tile floor maintenance, consider installing rubber casters or felt glides under furnishings in areas with tile floors.
  • Taking caution with heavy objects. Decorative tile floors can chip or break under extreme force. This makes it important to take extra precautions when moving heavy appliances over the surface. For that reason, consider using a plywood panel laid flat as a runway to move heavy objects to their final destination.

Advanced Care

As a general rule, a mop and bucket of manufacturer-recommended cleaning product can be used to maintain the appearance of ceramic tile floors. When heavier cleaning is needed on floors with textured surfaces, try the following:

  • Use a floor scrubber. An electric floor scrubber and an approved detergent solution can do a great job of removing ground-in dirt or stains on tile flooring.
  • Rinse clean. After using an electric floor scrubber, rinse thoroughly with warm, clear water to remove residue before wiping the tile dry with a clean towel.
  • Choose approved cleaners. Remember, not all tile floor cleaning products are made alike, so double-check the manufacturer’s recommendations before buying an off-the-shelf solution.
  • Avoid abrasive products. The WFCA recommends against the use of steel wool, scouring powders or other abrasive products as part of a tile floor cleaning routine. Those products can easily scratch the finish on any decorative tile product.

Stain Prevention

While decorative tile easily sheds many stain-producing liquids, the grout between tiles does not. To enhance tile floor maintenance, make sure your floor care routine includes immediate spill clean-up (even over sealed areas) to minimize potential grout discoloration. The WFCA notes that some bleach- or ammonia-based cleaners can also discolor tile grout if used too frequently. To ensure you’re taking the right approach, check out product-specific maintenance help on your tile flooring manufacturer’s website.