Squeaky clean floors create a delightful feeling and are an essential ingredient in making your home look pleasant and tidy. Porcelain tile owners can especially relate because it is a low-maintenance flooring material that requires minimum effort to look shiny.
However, maintaining your floor’s lustre depends on the quality of your cleaning – most people approach polishing their floors with the same technique, but this method couldn’t be more wrong.
Generally, porcelain tiles are highly durable and have a smooth finish. But some contain an extra layer of coating, while others are more water-absorbent. Therefore, if you want to get rid of any scruffy appearance properly, you have to apply different methods in their maintenance.
In this article, we’ll be revealing how to polish porcelain tiles so you can enjoy the satisfying feeling of having clean floors.
We’ll look at the tools and best methods to shine the most common types of porcelain tiles and answer some questions you might have.
We can’t promise you’ll see your reflection in the tiles after using our methods, but you’ll undoubtedly be pleased with the outcome.
What you will need:
- A broom
- A soft bristle brush
- A bucket
- White vinegar/pH neutral cleaning solution
- One or two clean mops
- A microfibre cloth/pad
- A buffer/microfibre flat-head mop
Different types of porcelain tiles and how to clean them
Glazed and polished porcelain tiles
Many people often use glazed and polished porcelain tiles interchangeably, but that is incorrect as they have quite a few differences. That said, it’s easy to understand why people easily make that mistake.
Both tiles have a smooth and clean finish, with a strength similar to that of rock subjected to high temperature and pressure. Hence, the steps in their cleaning procedure are identical.
But while we will be tackling the best method to clean them together, it’s essential to note the distinction.
The difference lies in the finishing process, where manufacturers lay on a unique coat of glaze that makes glazed tiles resistant to abrasion and stains. Therefore, during cleaning, you want to ensure you avoid scratches and a cloudy after-effect by preserving the special glaze coat.
Also, as a result, glazed tiles are more versatile, offering customers a more comprehensive range of patterns and colours to choose from.
How to polish glazed or polished porcelain tiles
- Sweep up all dust and debris on the floor using a soft-bristle broom or a vacuum cleaner. You may have to move some furniture around to get into those hard-to-reach places. Also, don’t forget to lift or temporarily remove carpets or rugs so you can sweep under them too.
- In a bucket, mix a quarter of a cup of white vinegar with 2 gallons of hot water. Vinegar is a good cleaning solution for glazed tiles because it effectively removes grime from your floors while remaining gentle on the coating. However, if you don’t have any, you can substitute it with a pH-neutral cleaning solution or a mild soap.
- Using a mop or sponge, mop the glazed tiles with your solution. But remember to squeeze out most of the liquid whenever you dip it back in the water to avoid water ringlets on your tiles.
- Go over the floors again with lukewarm water to ensure you completely wipe off the vinegar solution. You don’t want any cleaning residue lingering on your tiles.
- You will then want to dry the tiles with a towel to remove the water. You can clean your floor in sections to avoid droplets lingering on it for too long and causing watermarks.
- Next, mix an equal portion of baking soda with borax and add some water to form a light paste. This paste is a mild abrasive capable of removing stubborn stains and grit without damaging the coating of your tiles.
- Apply the paste on smudges and discoloured parts of your floor, particularly the grout. Leave it for a few minutes, then rinse it off with clean water. Don’t forget to dry it out with a paper towel.
- Finally, polish the tiles with a waxer or a flat head microfibre mop to bring out the shine.
Textured porcelain tiles
Unlike glazed or polished porcelain tiles, textured tiles do not have a smooth finish. On the contrary, they’re pretty rough and uneven, making them ideal for spaces prone to many spills, like the kitchen.
Generally, we refer to any tile that isn’t perfectly flat as textured. Whether they are wood-like, contain tiny mosaics, or have natural stones, we consider them textured tiles. Since their surface is not entirely smooth, they’re less slippery when wet.
On the other hand, their rough feel means they require more maintenance than their even counterparts.
How to polish textured porcelain tiles
- Firstly, you need to remove all the loose dirt and debris on the ground. A vacuum cleaner should sufficiently get the job done, but if you’re using a broom, it is recommended you sweep twice. Start by following the direction of the tile, either vertically or horizontally. Then go over it again diagonally to make sure you didn’t miss any grit. You’ll achieve better results this way than if you approach sweeping the floor haphazardly.
- Next, using the vinegar and water solution above, saturate the floor to cover every crevice. Unlike polished or glazed tiles, you’re less likely to experience watermarks, so don’t be afraid to let the solution sit on your tiles for a while. Ideally, it would help to let it soak for at least five minutes.
- After no longer than ten minutes, scrub the floors with a soft bristle brush to remove tough stains from the surface.
- Go over the tiles again with a warm water solution to ensure you remove all the cleaning residue. For better results, you might want to use a steam mop, which will leave less moisture and simultaneously disinfect your floors.
- Remove any leftover dampness by going over the tiles again with a dry mop or a microfibre cloth.
If you have textured floors, you should incorporate this routine into your weekly cleaning schedule. But high traffic areas might require more frequent polishing.
Matte porcelain tiles
Matte porcelain tiles are alternatively referred to as unpolished. As you can probably guess, they don’t have the same finish as polished tiles or a special glossy coating like glazed tiles.
Although they lack extravagant patterns and depth, they aren’t as uneven as textured tiles. Hence, they fall into their category (because of their distinct matte texture) with a particular cleaning method.
How to polish matte porcelain tiles
- First off, start by using a stiff bristle brush to remove dirt and debris from the grout in between and the tiles themselves. As long as you don’t apply too much force, you don’t have to worry about damaging it due to the matte tiles having no gloss coating.
- Next, use a broom to get rid of any dust or dirt left on the floor by your extraction. Then go over the floor with a vacuum cleaner to catch all the stray pieces of debris.
- Use the same proportions as the vinegar-water mix recommended in cleaning polished/glazed tiles above to saturate your floors.
- After ten minutes, using a clean mop or rag, wipe down the tiles to remove the solution. You might go over the stained portions of the floor again with your bristle brush, but ensure the cleaning solution doesn’t dry out on the floor. For best results, go in section by section.
- Wash away all the cleaning solution by going over the floor again with a clean bucket of water.
- Dry the floor thoroughly with a clean rag or microfibre cloth. It’s perfectly normal if the bottom is a little bit darker after rinsing away the water. Once your tiles are dry, they will revert to their usual colour.
- Finally, use a buffer or flat head mop to polish the surface of your tiles and restore their lustre.
1. How do you remove cloudiness from porcelain tiles?
Cloudy tiles can mar the aesthetics of your tiles with their milky appearance, but before you can remove them, you need to know why they’re there.
If they’ve always been there, the fault could be the outcome of the wrong sealer being used during the installation process. However, if the white spots on your tiles appeared more recently, it could be a build-up of stains, in which case wiping it down with a mild solution and water should remove it. Finally, if the cloudiness persists, you may consider recoating your tiles with polish.
2. What can damage porcelain tiles?
Porcelain tiles are tough and can withstand a lot of damage, but they have weaknesses like most things. Regular use of acidic chemical cleaners can eat away at the surface of your tiles, making them looser and more porous over time. Hence, it would be best to stick with mild cleaning solutions for everyday use.
3. Can you steam clean porcelain tiles?
Absolutely! When making porcelain tiles, one of the steps involves embedding in it, a mortar which makes it highly resistant to water damage–including steam. As a result of this feature, your steam mop is a great tool when it comes to sanitizing your floors.
So, you can use a steam mop without fear of damaging your flooring. That’s because the moisture and heat can kill harmful bacteria left on the floor, especially in tight corners around the house.
However, you must note that that doesn’t mean you can do away entirely with your regular mop. It would be best to have a traditional mop and bucket around the house to wipe off spills and avoid leaving streaks.
4. Can I use bleach on porcelain tiles?
As a general rule, you should avoid using bleach on tiles because it is a harsh reagent – even on your highly-durable porcelain tiles. Although most of its effects appear over long-term use, it can tinge the colour of your tiles and mar the coating.
The same also goes for ammonia-based cleaning products. That said, it’s best to stick with your regular cleaning solution and reserve bleach for disinfecting your toilet bowl.
5. How do I remove scuffs from porcelain tiles?
Porcelain tiles are a popular choice for their beauty and resistance to scuff despite heavy foot traffic. But on occasion, perhaps after hosting several guests or neglecting regular cleaning, a black streak or two may appear on your flooring.
The best solution to get the unsightly marks marring the aesthetics of your floor is using a paper towel. For stubborn stains, you might have to dip the towel in a small quantity of lukewarm water mixed with a mild detergent. If that doesn’t work, an effective hack is using a pencil eraser; remember to wipe away all the residue afterward.
6. Can I remove scratches from my porcelain tiles?
Many people laud porcelain tiles for their impressive durability. However, that doesn’t translate directly to immunity from scratches. Unlike scuff marks, scratches tend to stick around even after you’ve thoroughly cleaned your tiles, making them more of a nuisance.
If you’ve done a deep clean and the blemish is still there, you can try to conceal it with toothpaste. But first, you’ll have to ensure the area is damp and finish off with a urethane coat for maximum effectiveness.
Alternatively, you could purchase a repair kit at the closest hardware store with all the materials and instructions to make your scratch disappear.
We hope you found this guide helpful and picked up one or two things on how to polish porcelain tiles properly.
Cleaning your floors every day is an essential part of proper maintenance, but sometimes you need a deep clean and polish to make it sparkle.
Knowing the best method to use for each type of flooring can help you restore the original shine of your tiles and leave them looking brand new. Also, eliminating harmful chemicals and cleaning practices can make a big difference to the appearance and long lasting quality of your floors.
Meet our reviewer
Jimmy Pearce is our resident expert on domestic cleaning appliances. Having managed a large electrical retail store for over 10 years and with a family that includes 3 kids, there is little Jimmy doesn’t know or hasn’t seen when it comes to domestic cleaning. When he’s not spending time with the family or reviewing domestic appliances, Jimmy is often found in his man cave jamming on his bass guitar.