Cleaning & Maintenance of Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles

General Maintenance

All surfaces require a regular clean so that contaminates do not build up.

  1. Glazed Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles: Maintaining these surfaces can be achieved by sweeping or vacuuming and then washing the area using a specialised tile cleaning agent available from your tile merchant. Rinse surface thoroughly afterwards, using clean water. Residual streaks, detergent marks and films can result from excessive use of cleaning agents. In some instances, on advice from your tile merchant only, acidic cleaners may be needed for optimal results. These products must be recommended by your merchant as suitable for your particular tile application.

Do not use acid, unless recommended by your merchant, to clean fully glazed tiles as this may affect or damage the surface.

  1. Polished Porcelain: Generally, the cleaning and maintenance of polished porcelain is not too dissimilar to that of ceramic tiles. Different brands of polished porcelains may, however, recommend varying methods of cleaning and maintenance. It is suggested that you ask your tile merchant what is the most suitable product and method for your particular tile.

Do not use acid, unless recommended by your merchant, to clean polished porcelain as this may affect or damage the surface.

  1. Glass & Metallic Tiles: When cleaning these tiles be careful not to use abrasive applicators, such as scouring sponges.
  2. Unglazed Tiles: All unglazed products do have a level of surface porosity which usually means more attention is required to retain cleanliness. Spills or accidents that result in contaminates on the surface may stain. Often, unglazed tiles are sealed for ease of maintenance or future cleaning.

Grout

Many grouts on the market have mould inhibitors which can help reduce mould growth. Mould can still occur if the conditions are severe or if a grout without mould inhibitor has been used. Mould can be removed using specialised grout cleaners. Gels are particularly effective, as they can be left on the grout on badly affected areas, before washing off. Heavy-duty cleaners can help remove soap scum and other dirt build-up in extreme circumstances.

Mould or discolouration is basically the result of a build-up of soaps, shampoos and other residues left to dry. If this occurs, a heavy-duty cleaner may be necessary.

Freshly installed tiles may be covered overall or in patches with grout haze. There are a number of commercial products available for this problem from your merchant.

Efflorescence

Efflorescence is a white discolouration caused by minerals in the cement that are soluble in water, being dissolved and transported to the surface as the water evaporates. It is most noticeable on dark materials but can occur on any cement based system.

This is not normally a problem, as only insignificant amounts of white discolouration make it to the surface of the grout during normal curing. However, because it is water soluble, under certain conditions the migration of the discolouration to the surface can be increased. Therefore, if the system takes longer to cure or if there is more water present during curing, there is more time available for it to be carried to the surface.

Sometimes minor efflorescence can be removed by using normal cleaning methods, while more difficult stains can be treated with specific products from your merchant. Ensure the grout has had sufficient time to cure or you may make it worse by increasing the water on the surface.

Specific Stain Removal

Generally, the longer a stain has been left on a tile, the more difficult it will be to remove. Where possible, consult your merchant about the type of stain you are trying to remove, as there are specialist products for cleaning the stains.

Cleaning & Maintenance Standards

Should you have any further or more specific questions, the Australian Standards are available to all members of the public for reference.

The relevant document being Standards AS3958.1-2007. Appendix C – Cleaning & Maintenance.

Disclaimer:

This page is to be used as a guide only. It does not purport to be the solution to cleaning and maintenance requirements. It is the responsibility of the consumer to seek professional advice through your tile merchant for individual application.


There are three simple steps to the care and maintenance of your tiles.

  1. Before mopping, always sweep or vacuum tiles to remove dust and dirt.
  2. Always use a clean mop and add warm or hot water to the bucket. Most importantly, change the dirty water for clean water every 20-30m2 of mopping, otherwise you are just mopping your floors with dirty water!
  3. Never add supermarket detergents to your water. These can leave a soapy residue on your tiles and can be the main cause of dirt sticking to the surface of things, like foot print marks appearing.

    Detergent build-up on tiles

    Figure 20: The dull patch in the middle is actually the original clean tile. The gloss section is a build-up of supermarket detergents