Cleaning porcelain tiles is a difficult task due to the many different types of porcelain tiles on the market today.
There are two different types of porcelain tiles. Through body porcelain tiles are uniform throughout the body of the tile. Glazed porcelain tiles have a top baked on glazed layer pattern on top of the main tile substrate. Glazed porcelain tiles are much more non porous and easier to clean than through body porcelain tiles. Through body porcelain tiles are often somewhat porous and this can create many problems when trying to clean these non porous types of tiles.
Many times through body porcelain tiles may look dirty when in fact they just have a dirty looking finish. The dirty looking finish on porcelain tiles can also be the result of grout haze left on the porous porcelain tiles. This grout haze can usually be effectively cleaned with an acidic tile and grout cleaning solution. Cleaning up and removing the grout haze can in many times restore the look and finish of the porcelain tiles. To determine what type of porcelain tile you have you can put some water on the top of a porcelain tile and leave it there for 5 minutes. Then wipe off the water and if you do not see any type of darkening of the tile then you most likely have a glazed porcelain tile.
If you have either through body or a glazed porcelain tiles then it is best to start cleaning the tiles with a good alkaline cleaning solution designed for cleaning tile and grout. Do not use any types of household cleaners or other types of products on the porcelain tiles. Porous porcelain tiles will absorb your cleaning solution so it is best to use a cleaner specifically designed for cleaning tile and grout. Cleaners specifically designed for cleaning tile and grout will rinse clean out of the porous porcelain tiles. Many types of household cleaners will leave a sticky cleaning residue in the tile that can be difficult to remove and over time can accumulate in the porous tile. Additionally these types of household cleaners can also damage your tile and especially the grout.
Mix the alkaline cleaning solution with the hottest tap water available in the strongest ratio given on the cleaning container instructions. Apply the alkaline cleaning solution to the tiles and grout and ensure that the cleaning solution does not dry on the tiles. Keep adding cleaning solution if necessary to keep the porcelain tiles thoroughly saturated with cleaning solution. Let the cleaning solution dwell on the porcelain tiles for 20 minutes. While the cleaning solution is dwelling on the porcelain tiles you can scrub the porcelain tiles and especially the grout with a scrub pad or a scrub brush. If you have a delicate finish on your porcelain tiles then you should use a soft scrub pad so that you do not scratch the delicate finish.
After you have scrubbed the porcelain tiles and the grout clean then you should extract the dirty cleaning solution using a shop vac or similar type of wet vacuum. This will help you to remove the embedded dirt in the porcelain tiles and also the grout. Then you should go back over the tiles and grout with a mop and bucked to rinse any remaining dirty and cleaning residue from the porcelain tile and grout. If you do not have a wet vac then you can also just use a mop and bucket to rinse the porcelain tiles clean of the dirt and cleaning solution residue. Ensure that you have thoroughly rinsed the porcelain tiles to ensure there is no remaining cleaning residue on the tiles.
Most porcelain tiles are acid resistant so you should be able to use an acidic cleaning solution to further clean up the grout. Many times the grout will be extremely difficult to clean on the porcelain tiles. Also many times the tile installer has left a grout haze on the porous porcelain tiles. In these cases it is best to use an acidic cleaning solution to thoroughly clean the porcelain tiles, remove any grout haze and get the grout to its cleanest possible state.
Due to the different types of porcelain tiles you should test the acidic cleaning solution on the porcelain tiles to ensure that they are acid resistant. Almost all porcelain tiles are resistant to acidic cleaning solutions but it is still a good idea to test the acidic cleaning solution on an obscure section of the porcelain tile installation This will ensure that the acidic tile cleaning solution will not damage the porcelain tiles. Using an acidic cleaning solution on porcelain tiles can provide excellent cleaning results especially if there is a grout haze on the porcelain tiles. It is usually worth the effort to try cleaning the porcelain tiles and grout with an acidic cleaning solution after you have finished cleaning them with the alkaline cleaning solution.
Apply the acidic cleaning solution mixed with water to the porcelain tiles and grout according to the manufactures instructions. You do not have to let the acidic cleaning solution dwell on the porcelain tiles and you should see the grout fizz as it is being cleaning with the acidic cleaning solution. Extract the dirty cleaning solution using a wet vac and mop bucket with water the same as with the alkaline cleaning solution. After you have cleaned the floor with the acidic cleaning solution it is best to go over the floor and apply the alkaline cleaning solution so that you do not leave the grout in an acidic state. If the grout is left in an acidic state then over time the cements in the grouts can start breaking down. It sometimes can be difficult to get the grout as clean as possible when the grout is extremely dirty and stained from years of abuse. You can find more information about our recommended tile and grout cleaners on our tile cleaner information page.
After you have thoroughly cleaned your porcelain tile and ensured that they are totally rinsed then you should dry the porcelain tiles and grout with a clean dry towel. This will help remove any last traces of dirt or cleaning solution residue from the porcelain tile and grout. Many types of cheap porcelain tiles have defects in them that can appear after the porcelain tiles are thoroughly cleaned. Many times homeowners will want to polish their porcelain tiles to make these defects go away. Polishing porcelain tiles is not the same as polishing stone tiles such as marble, granite or travertine. You can read more information about polishing porcelain tiles here.
Additionally it is always get to seal your porous porcelain tiles as well as the grout with a quality tile, grout and stone sealer. This will help to keep dirt and contaminates out of the porous porcelain tiles and also help to keep the porous grout clean. You can read more about our recommended tile, grout and stone sealers at our grout sealer review.
Cleaning porcelain tiles can be a long, difficult and laborious task especially if there is a lot of dirty tile and grout that needs to be cleaned. Professional tile cleaning contractors have professional steam cleaning machines for cleaning your ceramic tile and grout. Steam cleaning machines clean tile and grout a lot quicker then you can ever do by hand. Also these steam cleaning systems clean and sanitize your tile and grout better then you can ever do by hand.
You can read some valuable information and tips on how to hire a tile, grout and stone cleaning and restoration contractor at our contractor information page here Tile Cleaning Service.
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