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How to Clean Porcelain Tile

Cleaning porcelain tile is generally a straightforward process. However, the approach you take depends on what conditions your tile surfaces are exposed to and how deep of a clean you need. In this article, we’ll take a look at how to clean porcelain tile floors and porcelain tile showers, as well as answer some common questions about porcelain tile care.

What You'll Need

  • Broom or vacuum
  • Mop
  • Sponge or soft-bristled brush
  • Rubber gloves
  • Specialized tile cleaner
  • Vinegar (optional)
  • Baking soda (optional)
  • Clean, dry towel


How to Clean Porcelain Tile Floors

A laundry room features blue cabinets and floor covered in square ceramic tiles with a blue and white motif.

Step 1. Sweep or Vacuum

Start by sweeping or vacuuming your porcelain tiles to remove loose dirt, dust and debris. If you are sweeping, be sure to use a soft-bristle broom. If you are vacuuming, make sure not to use a beater bar, as this could scratch the tile.


Step 2. Scrub with Warm Water

To get any remaining dirt and dust off your porcelain tile, all you need is some water. Using either a soft mop or a sponge, go over the tile with warm water. There is no need to use soap, but mild soap will not hurt your tile.


Step 3. Use a Specialized Cleaner

For tougher cleaning jobs, you may want to use a specialized tile cleaning product. These products are formulated specifically for use on porcelain tile. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for how to mix the cleaner. Do not use abrasive cleaners, pads or brushes, as they can scratch the tile's glazed surface.

Although specialized tile cleaning products are gentle, it is still a good idea to wear rubber gloves when scrubbing your porcelain tiles.

How to Clean a Porcelain Tile Shower

Shower with marble tile, gold fixtures and two small niches

Step 1. Wipe Down Wet Tile Daily

The most effective way to keep the porcelain tile in your shower clean is to dry it off after each use, or at least once a day. Make sure you rinse any soap residue from the tile, then use a squeegee to remove excess water. You can also use a clean, dry washcloth or towel.


Step 2. Thoroughly Clean the Tile and Grout Weekly

While a good daily wipe down will keep your shower looking fresh, you should still plan to clean the tile with a specialized, pH-neutral tile cleaner once a week. Use a soft cloth or non-abrasive sponge to apply the cleaning solution to the tiles. Gently scrub the tiles to remove soap scum and grime.

The grout between each tile generally sits lower, so it may not always get the cleaning attention it needs with big strokes over the surface of the tiles. You can use your finger to press the cloth or sponge into the grooves between tiles, or you can use a toothbrush dipped in the cleaning solution. Rinse the shower tile with clean water to remove any soap residue.


Step 3. Deep Clean Monthly

If your porcelain tiles have hard water or soap scum buildup, it's time for a deep clean. For the best clean, you can use either a specialized tile cleaner or a mixture of water and white vinegar. Generously spray the solution on walls, floor and fixtures, focusing on areas with soap scum, mildew or hard water stains.

For tougher grime, make a paste of baking soda and water. Apply it to the stained areas, leave it for a few minutes, then scrub gently with a soft brush or sponge.

Be sure to rinse every surface you have scrubbed and then dry it with a clean towel.

Cleaning Porcelain Tile FAQs

  • What should you not use on porcelain tile?

    When cleaning porcelain tile, there are several things you should avoid that might make the cleaning process harder or even cause permanent damage:

    • Steel wool or metal brushes. These can scratch the surface of porcelain tiles, especially glazed ones, leaving permanent marks.
    • Soap-based cleaners. Soap can leave a film on tiles that not only dulls their appearance but also attracts and holds dirt. It's better to use a pH-neutral, soap-free cleaner.
    • Alkaline cleaners. Avoid strong alkaline cleaners like ammonia or bleach, as they can damage the tile and grout, causing discoloration and weakening.
    • Oil-based or wax-based cleaner. These can leave a greasy residue on the tiles, making them slippery and attracting more dirt.
  • Is porcelain tile hard to maintain?

    Porcelain tile is considered one of the easiest materials to maintain, making it a perennial favorite for walls, floors and other surfaces. There are many factors that contribute to this reputation:

    • Scratch resistance. Porcelain tiles are hard and dense, making them resistant to scratches and scuffs, which contributes to their ease of maintenance.
    • Stain resistance. Due to their low porosity, porcelain tiles, especially in glazed porcelain tiles, are less likely to stain compared to other flooring materials.
    • Easy cleaning. Regular cleaning typically requires only sweeping or vacuuming to remove dust and debris.
    • Water resistance. Porcelain tiles have a very low water absorption rate, making them ideal for wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens. This also means that mold and mildew are less of a concern, contributing to easier maintenance.
    • Low maintenance. Compared to other flooring options like hardwood, porcelain requires minimal maintenance. You don't need to polish, wax or refinish it---an occasional deep cleaning is usually enough to keep it looking its best.
  • How often should I clean porcelain tile?

    The frequency with which you clean your porcelain tile depends on how heavily the surface is used. Flooring that doesn't see much foot traffic may only need to be lightly swept once a week, while a shower that is used by multiple people each day will need to be dried with a squeegee at least once a day and may need deeper cleaning each week.

    While porcelain does boast unrivaled stain resistance, no material is fully stain proof. In the event of spills, even those that do not pose a stain risk, the affected area should be cleaned promptly.

    Adapting your cleaning schedule to your household's specific needs and traffic patterns will keep your porcelain tiles looking pristine for years to come.