How to Properly Clean Porcelain Tile: Tips for Floors, Walls and Countertops

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Nelson Tile and Stone
June 27, 2024

Porcelain tiles stand up well against stains, water damage, and heavy foot traffic, making them excellent options for both wet and dry environments in residential and commercial spaces. Their composition involves finely ground sand and feldspar, fired at high temperatures, resulting in a dense, vitrified material with an absorption rate below 0.5%, making them impervious to moisture.

To ensure longevity, porcelain tiles should be cleaned with appropriate products and techniques to prevent scratching or dulling of the surface. Establishing a maintenance routine keeps porcelain tiles looking pristine while protecting their integrity, whether they grace floors, walls, or countertops.

Cleaning and Maintaining Porcelain Tile Floors

Keeping your porcelain tile floors looking fantastic is pretty straightforward. These tiles are tough, resistant to most stains, and don’t easily show water spots, making them a breeze to maintain. Here’s how to keep them in top shape:

Daily Cleaning

  • Sweep or Vacuum: Remove dirt and grit that could scratch the surface over time. A dry dust mop or a microfiber pad works wonders here, thanks to its static electricity that attracts dust like a magnet. If you don’t have one, a simple detailed sweep with the ol’ broom and dustpan will suffice.
  • Mop with Mild Detergent: Mopping is ideal for pace and reach, much faster than spot cleaning with a towel. Use a mild detergent or dish soap, diluted in warm water. Be sure to rinse the mop often to avoid just pushing dirt around and delaying the completed job. 
  • Dry the Floor: After mopping, drying the floor with a clean towel or mop helps keep it looking pristine.

Deep Cleaning

  • Use a pH-Neutral Cleaner: For a thorough clean, use a pH-neutral floor cleaner with warm water. Avoid abrasive scrubbers. 
  • Spot Clean Stubborn Stains: Apply a mixture of baking soda and water, directly to the spot and gently scrub with a soft-bristled brush. A gallon of warm water to ¼ cup vinegar is also a common approach to try.
  • Rinse and Dry: Rinse the floor with clean water to remove any residue and immediately dry the surface with a clean, lint-free cloth.
  • Consider Sealing: Apply a sealant annually to protect the porcelain tiles from deep-set stains.

Cleaning and Maintaining Porcelain Tile Walls and Countertops

Porcelain tiles are not only great for floors but also for walls and countertops. Here’s the basic practices for how to maintain these surfaces:

Regular Dusting and Cleaning

  • Dust and Clean Walls: Use a soft, dry cloth or a duster to remove dust particles from porcelain wall tiles. This prevents buildup and preserves the tile's sheen.
  • Clean Countertops: Use a pH-neutral dish soap mixed with warm water for everyday cleaning.

Stain Removal and Gentle Cleaning Solutions

  • Tackle Stains with Baking Soda: For stubborn stains on walls or countertops, make a paste with baking soda and water, apply it gently onto the stain, and rinse thoroughly with water after letting it sit for a few minutes.
  • Use Isopropyl Alcohol Sparingly: For tough stains, use isopropyl alcohol sparingly and rinse off quickly to avoid damaging the surface.

Sealant Application

  • Protect Grout Lines: Apply a sealant to the grout lines to protect against moisture and dirt, following the manufacturer's instructions for best results. This is especially important for countertops to prevent any deep-set stains.

Cleaning Procedures for Different Porcelain Finishes

Porcelain tiles come in various finishes, each with unique cleaning needs and susceptibilities. Here’s a quick guide to maintaining polished, glazed, matte, and stained porcelain tiles:

Polished and Glazed Porcelain

These finishes have smooth, glossy surfaces that highlight their elegance but can show smudges and water spots easily.

  • Susceptibility: Prone to smudges, water spots, and light scratches (polished); resistant to stains and scratches but glaze can chip (glazed).
  • Cleaning Procedure: Sweep or vacuum to remove dirt and grit. Use a microfiber cloth for wiping. Mop with a pH-neutral cleaner and warm water. Dry immediately with a clean, lint-free cloth to prevent water spots.
  • Combating Glossy Tiles Losing Shine: Dirty water or the wrong cleaning solutions can dull glossy tiles. Use a dedicated porcelain tile cleaner and buff dry with a microfiber cloth to restore the shine.

Matte and Stained Porcelain

These finishes have non-reflective surfaces that hide smudges better but may accumulate grime or spots over time.

  • Susceptibility: Less prone to visible smudges but can accumulate grime or spots (matte); susceptible to fading and scratches if not properly maintained (stained).
  • Cleaning Procedure: Sweep or vacuum regularly to prevent dirt buildup. Mop with a pH-neutral cleaner with warm water and a soft mop. Make sure not to use too much water for matte finishes as the extra water can leak deep into the porous surface and create future problems for the composition. Rinse frequently to avoid residue buildup. For tough stains, use a mixture of baking soda and water, applying gently and rinsing thoroughly.

General Tips for All Finishes

  • Avoid Abrasive Tools: Use soft mops, cloths, and sponges to prevent scratching.
  • Hard Water Deposits: White vinegar diluted with water can be effective against hard water stains. Apply the solution, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse with clean water and dry.
  • Use pH-Neutral Cleaners: Harsh chemicals can damage the finish over time.
  • Rinse and Dry: Always rinse thoroughly with clean water and dry immediately to prevent water spots and maintain the tile's appearance.

Protecting Porcelain Tiles: Sealant Application and Grout Care

To maintain the integrity and beauty of porcelain tiles, proper sealant application and grout care are crucial:

  • Sealant Application: Clean the surface thoroughly, ensuring it's dry and free from debris. Apply a penetrating sealant designed for porcelain, following the manufacturer's instructions. Use even strokes and allow it to cure fully. Reapply sealant as recommended, typically every 1-2 years.
  • Grout Care: Grout lines require meticulous attention to maintain a seamless look. Sweep or vacuum to remove loose debris. Use a specialized grout cleaner and a stiff-bristled brush to scrub grout lines gently but effectively. For stubborn stains, create a paste of baking soda and water, apply it to the grout, and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing. Rinse thoroughly with water. If grout residue mars the tile, create a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar. Apply it to the haze, wait for a few minutes, and then wipe away with a soft cloth.


Make sure you’re getting the most out of your porcelain as a clean surface is easier to sell and provides savings for its durability to withstand wear and tear. Regular cleaning with gentle, pH-neutral solutions, avoiding harsh abrasives, and immediate attention to spills prevents its quickest sign of age: stains and scratches. 

For more info and tips about porcelain and tile check out our other blogs or contact our team for additional expert advice. Keep your tiles looking their best wherever you have them placed around your home or business!