How to Clean and Wax Tile Floors

How to Clean Tile Floors

Believe it or not, you can usually clean your tile floors with just a damp mop.

I used to think that every time I lugged out the mop, I had to get out the cleaners, too. I started using clean water in my bucket to see what would happen.

Amazingly, sometimes that’s all it took. If you mop fairly often, you can get away with plain water.

When you need more thorough cleanings or sanitation, your solution depends on the type of flooring you have in your home.

Cleaning Tile Floors

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles are pretty easy to clean. You can usually just use general household cleaners diluted in water. I like to use a rubbing alcohol solution (1/4 cup rubbing alcohol in 2 gallons of water) to clean the floor and get it dry fast. To get the grout clean as you mop, carry a spray bottle with a solution a little stronger than what you’re using on the floor and spray where necessary.

Vinyl Tile

Vinyl flooring is also easily cleaned with a household cleaner diluted in water. If you have heel marks or scuff marks that are difficult to get out with a mop, you can try the baby oil fix. Use a very little bit – 2 or 3 drops, let it sit for a while, and then mop. I’ve heard of people also using mineral oil or olive oil and getting similar results, but you should be really careful that you thoroughly clean the surface afterward. You’d rather have a scuff mark than a trip to the hospital should you slip and fall!

Stone Tile

Depending on what your stone is made of, you need to be very careful what you use to clean the floor. If you have marble or other fragile stone, the manufacturer probably recommends a special, pH balanced cleaner. You can find a comparable cleaner online, and you can also use a homemade solution of dishwashing soap (not too much or your floors will be sticky or slippery) mixed in water. If it’s not strong enough, you should try a special stone cleaner instead of resorting to harsh chemicals. Don’t ever use a vinegar or any other acidic cleaning solution on marble. It can leave marks like gouges in the surface and ruin the smooth appearance of the entire floor!

Linoleum Tile

Linoleum is probably the easiest to clean. As it’s the usually the most inexpensive flooring, it doesn’t last as long. The key to getting the most out of linoleum is to be gentler than you’re required to be. Stick to plain water when you can, and go easy on the harsh cleaners. Dilute the household cleaner more than you normally would to get more life out of your floor. For black marks or scuff marks, try a pencil eraser.

No matter what type of tile flooring you have, always go back over your floor with plain water when you use any chemical. This will make your floor last longer, and it will also protect children and pets from ingesting chemicals.

Waxing Tile Floors

The reasons people apply wax to floors are to give the floor shine and make it easier to clean. Waxing floors is easier than it used to be, and people regularly wax even no-wax floors these days.

If your vinyl flooring had a no-wax finish but has faded, you might want to reseal it instead of applying wax. Wax can be applied, but resealing will last longer. Before applying any wax, your floor must be clean. Be sure to use whatever cleaner your floor requires and then follow up by mopping with clean water to get rid of residue. The floor should be completely dry before waxing.

You can get waxes that do and do not require buffing. No buff waxes are easier, of course, but waxes that require buffing give better and longer lasting results. Follow the wax directions and apply as thin a layer as possible.

Removing Wax Build-Up from Tile Floors

Eventually, you’ll probably get a wax build-up on your floor.

This is a yellowing or discoloration of the floor in certain areas. The wax wears down on the parts of the floor that get the most traffic so you’ll get a build up on lower traffic areas.

To remove the wax build-up, you can get special cleaners, but be sure that the cleaner is designed for your type of flooring.

You can also make the following cleaning solution to strip wax from tile floors

  • 1 cup of NON-BLEACH laundry detergent
  • 1/2 cup of ammonia (never use ammonia on laminate flooring)
  • 1 gallon of water

Use a stiff brush (yes, on your hands and knees – sorry) dipped in the mixture to loosen the old wax.

After you get up all the wax (it’s easier to do one area at a time), mop the entire floor with clean water completely until all remaining residue is removed.. You’ve just used a lot of chemicals, so let your floor rest a day or so before cleaning and applying more wax.

Stripping off the old wax requires a fairly harsh solution. Don’t strip your wax more than once a year.