There are two basic types of ceramic tile-glazed and unglazed. The other surface that requires care is the tile grout, the material that is used when installing the tile. Each of these requires certain routine cleaning and may need heavy-duty cleaning, depending upon its use and the degree of traffic it gets.

  • Glazed tile is most often used on traditional walls, counter tops and floors. It has a tough, glasslike surface produced by kiln firing at extremely high temperatures. Glazed tile can have a glossy, matte or texture finished.

  • Unglazed tile is composed of natural clays, which are sometimes mixed with pigments. It can be used on floors, walls, counter tops, windowsills, fireplaces, swimming pools, etc. It may require more careful attention than glazed tile.

Tile grout is the material used to fill the spaces between tiles. It gives the installation its finished look. There are several types of grout, but all can be maintained by following the instruction listed.

Routine Care for Your Tile
Glazed-tile walls in your home will easily keep their lovely look with simple routine care. Using a nonabrasive household cleaner wipe regularly with a damp cloth or sponge. A window cleaner (such as Windex or Glass-Plus) is ideal for cleaning glossy tile surfaces.

For glazed-tile floors, vacuum regularly to remove dirt and gritty particles. Follow with a mop or sponge dampened with an approved household cleaner.

Clean unglazed-tile walls and floors in a similar manner. However, dampen mop or sponge with a solution of water and soap less detergent (see A word about cleaners).

Tiled surfaces in your bathroom (tub, shower, vanity tops, etc.) may require a more thorough routine cleaning because of a build-up of soap scum, body oil or hard-water stains. Use the usual clean, damp cloth or sponge with an all-purpose cleaner, but allow it to stand for about five minutes before rinsing and drying. (You may also use a solution of equal parts of water and white vinegar* or a commercial cleaner available form your local Tile distributor.)

Here's a hint on how to keep shower walls mildew-free: clean regularly with a tile cleaner or fungicide such as Lysol or ammonia. Dry with a towel after each use and leave curtain or door open between showers.

Heavy Duty Cleaning
For high traffic areas or when tile has been neglected for a long time, heavy-duty cleaning may be required.

Glazed walls and counter tops should be cleaned with a scouring powder, commercial tile cleaner or all-purpose cleaner applied with a non-metallic or very fine stainless steel pad. Rinse and wipe dry.

To clean badly soiled counter tops, cover with a solution of souring powder and very hot water. Let stand for about five minutes, and then scrub with a stiff brush. Rinse thoroughly. If stain remains, apply bleach and let stand. Rinse well with clean water and dry after all cleaning.

For glazed-tile floors, use a commercial tile cleaner, or apply a strong solution of all-purpose cleaner or scouring powder paste. Let stand for five minutes, brush and scrub. Then rinse with clean water and wipe dry. 
Use chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide for stained shower surfaces. If badly stained, it's best to try a scouring powder containing a bleaching agent such as Ajax or Comet. Let stand for four to six hours before scrubbing and rinsing thoroughly.

For heavy-duty cleaning of unglazed-tile walls, make a paste of scouring powder. Apply to surface and let stand for five minutes. Scour with brush, rinse and wipe dry.  Unglazed-tile floors can also be cleaned with a scouring powder paste. Let stand for five minutes, scour with a brush, rinse and wipe dry. A small brush is suitable for most floors, but you may want to choose a scrubbing machine for large areas.

You will find that many unglazed-tile floors will develop a patina as they age, giving them a soft shine which keeps the m looking better longer and reduces maintenance.  Remember, prompt clean up of spills and regular cleaning will keep your ceramic tile surfaces looking their best.

A Word About Cleaners
There are many excellent household cleaners on the market today. They should all do a good job for you, so use your favourite. Remember, read and follow the manufacturer's instructions and recommended usage. They will perform as promised, if you use them as directed.

Here is some general information about the cleaners that are mentioned in this article.

All-purpose cleaners include such products as Soft Scrub, Scrub Free, Mr. Clean, Top Job, Fantastik, Ajax Liquid, Liquid Comet and Lestoil. You can find them at your supermarket.  Soap less detergents are also commonly found on supermarket shelves. Scouring powders, which are readily available, include Comet and Ajax. Nylon scouring pad may be used (such as Scotch Brite), but steel wool pads are not recommended.  For bathrooms, several specialty cleaners may be used and are very effective for routine maintenance.

Repairing Damaged or Loose Tiles
A damaged or broken tile should be removed and replaced by a good tile mechanic only. If the tile is simply loose, you should be able to repair it yourself. Just clean the back and sides of the tile of all grout and bonding material. Apply fresh mastic and set the tile into place. Let dry for 24 hours, then grout. If you have more than a few loose tiles, it's best to consult a professional tile mechanic to handle the job.

Tile Grout
Grout may be present a special cleaning problem because it is susceptible to many staining agents. It should be cleaned immediately if subjected to these substances. This table below lists some typical causes of stains as well as the recommended method of removal for each.

  • Grease and fats:   Soda and water or commercial spot lifter

  • Inks and coloured dyes:   Household bleach

  • Mercurochrome:   Ammonia

  • Blood:   Hydrogen peroxide or household bleach

  • Coffee, tea, food,fruit, juices, lipstick:   Neutral cleaner in hot water, followed by hydrogen peroxide or household bleach

After the counter has been cleaned and dried, grout joints should be treated with a silicone sealer to help keep them clean. (Apply the sealer several times a year for maximum protection.)   In addition to keeping the grout clean, be sure to keep grout joints in good repair. Scrape out loose, cracked or powdery joints and refill with a good grout.

One common grouting trouble spot is the joint between the tub and tile wall in your bathroom. As the house or tub settles, the grout may crack and crumble. It's relatively simple to remedy. Remove the old grout with a sharp pointed tool, watching out that you don't scratch the tile or tub. Then dry the joint thoroughly and fill with a flexible caulking compound, such as silicone rubber caulking. (This is available in an easy-to-use tube at your local tile distributor or local hardware store.)

Do's and Don't of Ceramic Tile Care

  • Do not combine ammonia and household beaches.

  • Do not use harsh cleaning agents (such as steel wool pads), which can scratch or damage the surface of your tile.

  • Do not use a cleaning agent that contains colour on unglazed tile. It has a relatively porous body and may absorb the colour.

  • Do test scouring powders in a small area before using on tile.

  • Do use silicone sealer on grout joints if continuous staining is a problem.

  • Do read and follow label directions for all cleaners.

  • Do see your nearest Tile distributor for advise on special cleaning problem or if you have any question

Handy Guide to Easy Tile Care
Ceramic tile is one of the most durable and easiest to maintain surfaces you can choose for your wall, floors, counter tops, etc. With proper care and minimum maintenance, it will retain its original beauty and luster for many years.

Generally, all that's necessary to keep your tile looking as good as new is a quick wipe with a damp cloth or mop. Heavier cleaning may be called for periodically to refresh your tile, or to clean tile that's been neglected for a long time. No special or unusual treatment is ever required. And it never needs to be waxed or polished. To protect the long life of your tile, just follow the simple suggestions in this article. You'll see- it's as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Type of tile Routine cleaning Heavy duty cleaning

Glazed tile walls, counter tops

Wipe with damp cloth or sponge using all-purpose cleaner. Use window cleaner for glossy surfaces. Wipe dry with cloth.

Clean with scouring powder, commercial tile cleaner or all-purpose cleaner using nonmetallic souring pad or very fine grade stainless steel pad. Rinse and wipe dry

Glazed tile floors

Vacuum regularly to remove gritty particles. Damp mop using solution of water and soap less detergent.

Use a commercial tile cleaner or a strong solution of water and soap less detergent If stained, use scouring powder paste. Let stand five minutes, brush and scrub. Rinse and dry. For large areas and for areas that are difficult to clean, a power scrubber is recommended.

Glazed tile showers

Use all-purpose or bathroom cleaner. Allow to stand for five minutes, rinse and dry. May also use mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar or a commercial tile cleaner.

Use chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide. For stubborn stains, use scouring powder containing a bleaching agent. Let stand four to six hours, then scrub and rinse thoroughly. To remove mildew, use a commercial tile cleaner or chlorine bleach or ammonia - do not mix.

Unglazed tile walls

Sponge with a diluted solution of water and soap less detergent

Use scouring powder paste. Let stand five minutes, then scour with brush. Rinse and wipe dry.

Unglazed tile floors

Vacuum regularly to remove gritty particles. Damp mop or sponge with water and/or a diluted solution of water and soap less detergent

Use scouring powder paste. Let stand five minutes, then scour with brush. Rinse and wipe dry. A small brush is suitable for small floors; consider a scrubbing machine for larger areas.

A guide to keeping your Stone & Tiles Looking their best! - DO'S AND DON'TS

DO !!!

  • Do dust mop floors regularly. Particularly polished floor surfaces.

  • Do clean surfaces with pH neutral cleaners (Nice N Clean “Neutra” Stone and Tile Cleaner is ideal).

  • Do rinse surfaces with water after washing.

  • Do clean up spills immediately. Blot spills rather than scrub.

  • Do protect floor surfaces with non-slip matting, rugs, and bench tops with coasters, trivets.



  • Don’t clean surfaces with vinegar, lemon juice, powdered cleaners, crème cleansers or other abrasive cleaners.  Marble, limestone, travertine and onyx are particularly sensitive to these products.

  • Do not use bathroom cleaners that contain acid or are citrus based.

  • Do not use older vacuuming equipment that may scratch polished surfaces.

  • Do not use scouring pads to clean up spills.


Step On It Tiling   |    Lic No. BLD52499   |    Very competitive tiling service   |    All aspects of tiling - ceramic tiles, porcelain, stone & glass         |    Tel:  0417 811 758   Sydney-wide