How to Clean Porcelain Tile Flooring


Karen asked: What is the best way to clean porcelain tile floors? The floors are unsealed, and the grout gets wet and darkens. Water stains are on an area where the dog’s water bowl is, and I can get marks to go away with mopping. The floors are a few months old and I just want to know the best way to care for them so they look good for a long time.

Porcelain tile flooring is one of the easiest floors to care for. It doesn’t require sealants or special cleaners. However, it does need some extra cleaning from time to time. When those times arise, here are the steps to take.

You Will Need:

  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Sponge mop
  • Porcelain tile cleaner or
  • ¼ cup vinegar with 2 gallons hot water or
  • All purpose household cleaner (ex: Mr. Clean, Fantastik)

Steps to Clean the Floor:

  1. Start by vacuuming the floor to remove any loose dirt and debris.
  2. When cleaning porcelain tiles, it is best to work in small sections to ensure the cleaning product is applied and removed in a timely manner.
  3. Apply the cleaning product or vinegar solution with hot water to the floor’s surface.
  4. Allow it to set for a few minutes.
  5. After the solution has set on the floor, scrub it with a sponge mop to clean away any dirt and/or stains from the surface.
  6. Rinse with clear water. Using a wet vacuum works well to remove all of the cleaning solution.
  7. Allow the floor to dry.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • For regular cleanings, sweeping and vacuuming is sufficient. Mopping with plain water will help to remove minor dirt and dust.
  • Do not allow the cleaning solution to dry on the surface of the porcelain tiles. This can result in staining and streaking.
  • If the floor is polished, use half the amount of detergent as described above.
  • Avoid staining on the floor by wiping up spills as soon as possible.
  • All purpose household cleaners can be used on porcelain tile floors. Soapless detergents such as Spic and Span or 409 can also be used.
  • It is recommended that a small test area be conducted with any cleaning product before applying it to the entire floor. This helps to ensure that there are no adverse effects from the cleaning product.


  1. My housekeeper used Mop and Glow on my porcelain tiles, and the end result was horrible. The tiles are dull, and there are streaks all over them. What shall I do to restore the shine?

  2. I am in the same fix with my porcelain tile. I need help!

  3. I have black porcelain tiles on the floor. It is a very large area and the only thing that I have found that gives them the mirror finish is Showroom Shine. It is meant for cleaning cars, but it does a great job on the tiles. I would just like to add that the way to do this is a tile at a time, so it does take a while, but the results last for at least a month.

  4. My porcelain tile is eight years old and looks dull in spots. I have used the Mr. Clean sponge with water, which only made it worst. Do I need a professional to get it looking new again? I do not want to have to replace it. Would an electric buffer help?

  5. Me too – my floor lost the shine. The only time it looks better is if my cleaner mops the floor and then dries it, which takes a lot of time. Does anyone know how to do it quickly and have the lovely, shiny floor? Please help.

  6. I am having the same problem. I was wondering if a steamer would help solve the problem? I am at my wits end. It is killing me; mopping and then drying/buffing them with a material dust mop that was meant for laminate flooring.

  7. Steam cleaning is an excellent idea! Steaming uses less water than traditional mopping, which will reduce the damage to the grout. Having a good sealant on the tile and grout will decrease the amount of cleaning required in the future. The type of porcelain that you have – polished, glazed, natural or structured – is a major determinate of the best sealant and cleaning practices. Also, there are porcelain tile sealants that will give the tile a shiny appearance.

    Source: eHow
    Source: Australian Tile Council

  8. I have porcelain tile floors in my kitchen, den and large extended patio. The porcelain tile does not have a gloss to it, but it is not completely dull either. I do not think it has been sealed. However, it does not absorb water (dries topically). I use my Shark steam cleaner on it. What can we do to get more of a shine on it? Does the tile have to be sealed for that? The indoor tile is about four years old, and the taiko tile is about six years old. Thank you for any information regarding my inquiry.

  9. My question is the same as all the questions from other people. How do you clean porcelain tile? I have tile in the foyer, kitchen and dining room. I can mop with a Swiffer Wet mop…the floor looks clean, but when you look at it when it gets dry, you can see spots, smudges and marks. I even bought a sponge mop and it is the same results after mopping.

    I wish I could send the porcelain tile back where it came from…Not happy with it. The tile is barely a year old.
    I will be grateful for any recommendations to clean this tile.

  10. I made the mistake of leaving bleach on the tile overnight, left light staining now; anything I can do?
    The quickest way to clean these tiles is to use a dry microfiber flat headed mop spraying white vinegar spray as you go. Perfect streak free finish, everything else seems to leave smears. I have a large kitchen and I can do this in about 5-10 minutes. Every six weeks, give it a polish with laminate floor polish, which is also a spray. Job’s a good one.

  11. I have tried everything to clean my porcelain floor tiles and nothing seems to work. They look dull, dirty and very streaky. I even bought a steam mop hoping this would help…it was a complete waste of money; the floor is still as streaky as when I used a mop and bucket.
    Please, someone must know how to get that nice clean streak free look. HELP!

  12. My porcelain tiles drive me mad. I have a huge area of them and it was a big mistake. I have tried mopping and drying with an e-cloth on my hands and knees, which actually looked great and shiny, but as soon as anyone walks on them with bare feet or even socks, they leave greasy-looking smears all over them; it looks worse where the natural light falls on them. I have used steamers, but need to get down on my hands and knees after again to dry them or they are extremely streaky, but yet again, as soon as they are walked on I get the greasy smears back. It’s hard work that never pays off!!! I guess we’re all in the same boat and there is no answer! Oh and if anything is spilled on them, even water, you can’t just wipe it up… You have to buff it with an e-cloth again! With four kids, it’s never ending!

  13. When I had my porcelain floor installed, my contractor told me to only clean it with water and vinegar. I have used noting else on it. It looks as good as when it was first installed. I use a fillable bottle mop with a flat cloth on the bottom. Spray as you go, no streaks. Done in about 5-10 minutes. The other option would be a steam cleaner as mentioned earlier.

  14. Have tried all of the above over the eight years we have lived in this house with a huge expanse of polished porcelain tiles. NONE of them seem to work. Have tried vinegar, steam mop, even methylated spirits. I am now at the point that if anyone tells me they are going to lay these tiles, I offer to show them mine. Puts them right off.
    Does anyone have any other suggestions??? Many thanks.

  15. Annie,
    If you have also tried various porcelain cleaners without luck, maybe a general stone cleaner would work. The MB-1 cleaner (Marble, Granite and More Floor Cleaner) is safe to use on porcelain, and the GT-1 cleaner (Natural Stone and All Surfaces Daily Cleaner) is also safe to use on porcelain. If you’re having a problem with film from hard water or soap film, the same company also makes (MB-3) a “Soap Film and Mineral Deposit Remover.”
    Source: MB Stone Care – MB-1
    Source: MB Stone Care – GT-1
    Source: MB Stone Care – MB-3

  16. When we moved to our new home, we put porcelain tile throughout the whole house. After it was done, the tile people called and told us to tell the tile man not to seal it because sealant does not stick to porcelain. Then I found out how hard it is to keep clean. I was so mad, but the deed was done. If I had to do it all over again, I’d go back to saltillo tiles because they are so easy to take care of.

    To clean my tiles I use half Windex cleaner and half rubbing alcohol. I have two Libman microfiber floor mops and lots of refills (they are machine washable). I spray the tiles, a small section at a time, with the Windex/alcohol mixture, then mop over it with one mop and use the other one for drying. When drying I just go over it lightly, which along with the air, helps dry it quickly. Because my bathrooms are so small, I have to get on my hands and knees and do the same thing, but with paper towels. It’s a pain, but it works. I usually do this once a month. The rest of the time I just make sure that when something wet spills on the floor, even water, I clean it up immediately, usually using the mixture and the paper towels. I mostly vacuum the floor each day and then go over it with a dry Swifter sweeper cloth.

  17. I have the same problem; my porcelain flooring looks so dull and leaves a lot of marks on it. Now, I realized that it’s because my porcelain tiles are made from China. The porcelain tiles made from Italy have a shined look to it and does not leave a mark on it.

    My friend has the Italian porcelain flooring and her flooring looks fabulous.


  18. I have cleaned porcelain tile for nine years. Best is steam. The more cleaners you use, the more residue will build up. Avoid cleaners with color. Natural stone cleaners are not made for porcelain. Never use oil-based sealer on porcelain. Use water-based sealer only.

  19. I have tried everything. Floor looks great when it’s damp, but when it’s dry, it’s a nightmare. Good job; it’s not very big. I sweep and mop it practically every time I go in there, which is about 6.7 times a day. Perhaps it’s the black that looks the worst. My friend says I have OCD with this floor. Would not recommend black floor tiles. x

  20. I too have a porcelain floor, Italian, about 8 years old. To boot, I have radiant heat in all of the floors. I have used nothing but natural cleaners on my floor and only recently noticed that it was smudging and streaking and not smooth because of the residue. So after reading all of your comments, went to Home Depot and bought CLR bath and kitchen cleaner. Doing only 1-3 16 inch tiles at a time, I scrub with a Dobie scour (doesn’t scratch) and then using only water and clean rags, I go over the same tiles with just water once with a rag, then I spray it again with a clean rag. I am changing the rags every so often so I am sure not to be putting back what I am removing. and…ITS WORKING!!! From now only, only my Shark with steam and nothing else! Hope to not be doing this again any time too soon. Good luck everyone. I hope that this helps.

  21. Hi, we too have laid white polished porcelain floor tiles on the entire lower level of our home and they have been horrible since day one. Smudges and marks everywhere. Tried tile cleaners, metho detergent and water and everything else. We finally bought a microfibre flat mop head with water refill and it works giving it a beautiful shine, but the second someone walks on it, it goes back to being smudgy all over again! Help; we hate them!!! We were thinking of looking into getting a professional floor cleaner in to see if maybe there is some kind of wax on them that needs to be cleaned off and that’s why they are so hard to maintain. Went to a home today who had them and they said all they use is a mop and cold water and they looked amazing. Hmmft!

  22. My question is the same as the above, but I do not see any solutions to the problem. My kitchen floor tile has lost its shine or glaze. Can a wax solve this problem? And if so, what type of wax so that the floor is not slippery?
    Thanks for any help!

  23. Awful flooring. Would not recommend it to anyone! Utter nightmare to clean full stop. Had it down for under a year and it now looks dirty. Used all of the above mentioned and nothing works. Mine is matte; no shine. Worst money I’ve ever spent.

  24. I have the same problem as most of you, I had the tiles cleaned professionally for the first time. The cleaner said he used hot water only, then he buffed it. He told me to only use clear water on it, which I was doing, but still no shine. It is very upsetting because when you have visitors, the floor is the first place they look and think that I did not mop. I would appreciate any help I can get.

  25. I am ripping it all out. Tried everything. Damn waste of money.

  26. I also feel that I’ve wasted my money and time and effort buying porcelain tiles for my kitchen and bathroom. Having visited the shop, I was advised to use a steam cleaner to remove the considerable dirty marks on the tiles…it just so happens that my sister has a steam cleaner so she loaned it to me for a day. After many hours of quite intense cleaning, the tiles are “almost” acceptable, but not totally clean. I’m in the process of discussions with the shop to ask for assistance and maybe even the cost of replacing the tiles, or at least covering them with something else or the purchase of a steam cleaner.
    Please be reminded that you all have consumer rights, i.e. The Sale of Goods Act 1979 explains that the purchased tiles have to be “fit for purpose” and if you cannot keep them clean, then they are not fit for the intended purpose.

  27. I have porcelain tiles at my home as well. Doesn’t matter which product you are using, they are prone to streak. The best way to clean them is pour a cup of methylated spirit in half a bucket of water and mop the floor. It dries quickly as well and leaves a steak free shine.

    The above cleaning method should be enough to put you off- really?! Who has that much time to waste on cleaning floors. The tile shop I purchased them from said, “They are so easy to clean,” (he obviously doesn’t have them in his house). Two years later, I have spots of hair missing and I spend most cleaning days crying while I try to clean these stupid tiles!! I’m so over these tiles that I’m moving houses!! It doesn’t matter what you try or use, they are shit!

  29. Porcelain tiles come in many grades. Porcelain tile that does not have a natural gloss, like your toilet, are NEVER going to be glossy like your toilet bowl. Keep in mind when you mop, you are also mopping the grout lines and picking up minute particles from the grout. A matte finish tile will never be a high gloss tile. In regards to the above posts referring to their friend’s Italian marble, I guarantee they paid more than a buck a square foot for THAT tile!!
    Clean it with water and vinegar and accept the fact that you bought a non-glossy tile.
    The original question posted stated the floor was not sealed. Sealing the grout will help considerably.

  30. I have porcelain tiles; only use boiling water. Wring the mop out as much as you can; don’t leave excess water on the mop, the less the better. I would not have these tiles again.

  31. I’ve had my highly polished white porcelain tiles down now for 1 month and they are a nightmare. I expected to see everything on them, but didn’t expect to get so OCD over it. My problem is the little bits and pieces that get picked up whilst mopping, get caught at grout lines and each sweep of the mop spreads it around, not picks it up. I’ve been sweeping before mopping, but think vacuuming would be better. But any dust or hair that is missed by the broom, gets grabbed by the mop and sticks in my mop head and on the grout line. Took over an hour of repetitive mopping to clean my floor. That’s why I came online to see what is the best method to clean these tiles.

  32. I found that a steam mop took the shine off tiles after using it over a period of time. Now, I use boiling hot water in a bucket mixed with 3 capfuls of Cif floor cleaner; it leaves no residue and the tiles have come back to the sparkling condition of when installed six years ago. Excellent product and can be bought in most supermarkets.

  33. Clean glazed porcelain tiles with water. No cleaner is necessary, but if you do use a cleaner, it has to be a neutral PH. No soaps. Do not use vinegar if you have grouted with urethane grout. Even the instructions for the grout I used says not to use vinegar; the acid in it will eat through the grout. Always vacuum first before mopping. I use the Libman wonder mop. Wonderful product. Picks up all dirt; rinse it often. Once I am done mopping, I go over the floor with a dry, clean dust mop. Perfect!

  34. We have not long had pale grey porcelain tiles down in the kitchen, dining room, entrance hall, and laundry. I asked the sales lady if the tiles had been sealed, (as I was told you need to get tiles that have been sealed); the lady said “yes.” Like everyone above are saying, the tiles always look smudged, and streaky. So upset about it. I went out and purchased an electric steamer. I have noticed some of the tiles are more ‘smudged’ than others, which is really strange!
    I’m at my wits end now on what to do.
    There doesn’t appear to be any help at all from anyone at all, just no real solution to our problem, apart from “BOYCOTT” porcelain tiles, and tell all your friend and family about this. Then… maybe, these companies may start to look at how these tiles are made!!

  35. Was told porcelain tiles were the best. It has been a nightmare since getting them installed. Cannot clean them correctly. If you are considering getting this type of tile, do not get it! Not worth it.

  36. Hi there. I have just tiled my main living area with porcelain laminate wood effect. It’s lighter than I thought and I have dogs, so every mark is noticed. Was wondering if I can use an oil-based cleaner to bring the colour up. I accidentally spilled cooking oil after the first day and although I cleaned up right away, still have marks, but I like the effect on the tile! Wondering if anybody can advise?

  37. I tried a steam mop on my tile floors and they all started to crack and develop the hollow sound from underneath. Since then, we stopped using the steam mop. Our floors are the original ones installed by the builder about 15 years ago. Probably were the cheapest quality ones around just to get the house onto the market. It may be an excellent idea, but proceed with caution when using a steam mop. I still have to understand why this happened. Does anyone have a possible idea?

  38. Oh no, such sympathy!!!! I notice not many good solutions coming through. I think the only way is to wash with a good window cleaning product in a bucket, then be prepared to dry with a dry microfiber mop (extra work). I guess I can live with my shiny grey tiles; I HAD white (oh no). I saw on TV a millionaire’s house put in a white gloss product at a cost of about 100 million dollars. I weep for them!!!! Well, all I can say is old age brings bad eyesight and it is working.

  39. I have a black highly-polished porcelain tiled floor and have always used a steam mop, but only ever used water, but don’t get the mop head too wet or it won’t work, and I have a Vax and only use a thick blue mop head, not the thin white ones. I have a large kitchen with under-floor heating only built a year ago and find you need to clean the floor more in winter when the heating is on; in the summer it doesn’t seem so bad. It does show droplets of water. I have learned to be very careful how I do things; if I’m at home baking all day and cooking Christmas dinner, you will need to mop several times. Was thinking of changing my mop and using one with detergent, but on reading all the comments, I seem to have the best way of keeping it clean and looking good, so if your thinking of having a plain high-polished black porcelain floor, it is extra work but well worth it. Also, my friend has black speckled porcelain floor tiles and they don’t seem to show the marks. Hope this helps.

  40. We have shiny porcelain tiles and I hate them. I would move if I could. I mop with all sorts of mops and the floors look fantastic until the kids walk on them. I’m trying drying them with Windex after I mop them, and I’ll do that for a month to see if there’s resuide or what’s leaving marks. I hate them.

  41. Just contracted to have my kitchen floor tiled (porcelain), THEN I read the comments on care. Oh! My gosh. What have I done!

  42. I have had porcelain tiles laid in my en-suite. Within a day they were showing smeary marks where they had gotten wet from the shower. I was devastated until my tiler husband told me that there is a wax coating on them and that he hadn’t cleaned it off yet! I got some wax remover from the tile shop and it took me a couple of hours (and two goes at it) to remove the wax and then I sealed them. They’ve looked great ever since. The only problem I’ve got is that I put a purple candle on the window ledge and now it has left a stain. Tried vinegar and water to get it off, but no joy. Any ideas?

    Check it out! We’ve answered your question!

  43. I recently had charcoal/black porcelain tiles installed in the bathroom, ensuite, toilet, and laundry. I use running hot water with a sponge mop…then I put a couple of drops of meth on the mop, then squeeze again, then add 2 drops of eucalyptus oil on the sponge, then squeeze the mop AGAIN. I always make sure the mop is totally wrung out, almost like damp. Seems to work; occasionally will need to dry with a microfiber cloth if I see some water streaks.
    I would not recommend these tiles to anyone, especially if you have OCD like me. The shower area is the worst to try and keep clean as it’s wet everyday and I now use a squeegee (window cleaner thingy) to sweep the water in the drain.
    It then looks like a matte finish in the wet area, but they are shiny tiles!!!
    Will invest in a wax remover, as the previous person said, for the wet/shower area.

  44. Kelliek says:

    I have porcelain tiles and I use a micro-fiber mop with Eucalyptus Solution (not oil) – you only need about 2 or 3 cap fulls in the hot water; this can be purchased in the medical aisle of the supermarket. Make sure your mop is really well squeezed out to almost dry. I have found this to be the best way to keep my floors looking fantastic. It also makes your house smell beautiful. Hope this helps.

  45. Margaret says:

    I have black porcelain tiles in my bathroom. I have to clean it every other day. Clean with a clean, damp mop, and when nearly dry, go over it with a micro fibre mop to shine. These tiles are very hard to keep clean and polished.

  46. My porcelain is tan and not shiny, but was always leaving streaks, even with a steam mop. So I tried mixing 2 parts warm water with 1 part white vinegar and pouring that on the tile as I steam mopped and now it doesn’t have streaks anymore. It does take a little longer to dry.

  47. All the tips are about internal tiles. I need info on how to get exterior, ie exposed to sun, to shine. They look fantastic only when wet.

  48. I have metal scuff marks on my ceramic floor tiles. How can I get rid of them?

  49. Heather,
    This is the article that you need: How to Remove Aluminum Scuff Marks from a Porcelain Sink.

  50. We have recently had some renovations done. Continuous mopping and dusting and vacuuming. But it seems we can’t get rid of the dust. The porcelain tiles look like there’s a film of white powder on them and even after mopping still look dusty and streaky! I’m at my wits end! HELP PLEASE!

  51. Fay,
    This is the article you need: How to Remove Interior Construction Dust.

  52. I have just had porcelain charcoal grey tiles installed in a bathroom on the floor. After the job was done, I noticed many drip-like splotch marks on about 4 or 5 tiles near the shower pan. This somehow occurred when the tiler was laying the tiles in the shower or grouting the shower/floor. I tried to scrub them with Vim gel and a toothbrush, but they are all still there. This didn’t happen in the other bathroom we had renovated one year ago because my husband covered the floor after it was done and before the shower tile was set and grouted. I’m not happy about this and my contractor is supposed to find out from the tiler how to get them out. I’m not holding my breath. Any suggestions?

  53. I’m a tiler and I struggle with porcelain. So much so, that in my kitchen with its large 60×40 tiles, I have raised the grout level to that of the tiles and had my friend fit cushion vinyl flooring. :-)

  54. I have just installed the black porcelain tiles, but the cleaning is the problem. Normally I use a few drops of baby oil in warm/hot water to clean, but I can see we all have the same problem with porceclai. May the manufacturer help with the care for this tile.

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