Tips & Tricks
Ceramic tiles perform outstandingly well in comparison with other flooring materials, including when it comes to care and cleaning. This has been proven by market research, material testing and practical experience. All ceramic wall and floor coverings enjoy the critical benefits of almost indestructible beauty coupled with extraordinary ease of cleaning. Tiles also fulfil the highest standards of design and functionality, whether used in private accommodation or public buildings.
Glazed and unglazed tiles all have surfaces that are by their nature easy to clean. If in doubt, please read the manufacturer’s instructions or ask your tile specialist. Even when using specialised cleaning agents you should read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning notices. Never use cleaning agents that contain hydrofluoric acids or their compounds (fluorides): these attack ceramic surfaces even when highly diluted.
In private households where they do not get too dirty, tiles can be kept hygienically pure just using lukewarm water and, if necessary, biodegradable, environmentally friendly washing additives such as the neutral cleaning agents available in the shops. Because of this, tiles are also ecologically exemplary in terms of cleaning and care. This is something which is becoming increasingly important, including for allergy-sufferers and families with young children. You can keep heavy dirt out of your home using shoe grids, footmats and what are known as “clean-off zones”.
When it comes to cleaning tiles, the age-old adage applies: less is (usually) more! Even serious everyday dirt can usually be removed using a small amount of neutral cleaning agent. Greater quantities of more aggressive cleaning agents rarely achieve things more quickly. On the contrary, cleaning agents that are too strong or of the wrong variety can harm you and your floor surface. In our “Stain Removal Lexicon” you will discover how to cleanse your tiles of particularly stubborn dirt and stains made by difficult substances, easily and with as little damage as possible.
Generally speaking, when it comes to cleaning tiles, we differentiate between the initial cleaning after laying – sometimes referred to as site cleaning – and ongoing care, known as maintenance cleaning. From time to time, and in cases where unusual amounts of dirt are involved, extremely thorough cleaning is required, which we refer to as 'basic cleaning'.
Initial cleaning is done immediately after the flooring is laid and grouted. It cleans off building dirt and the cement coating which forms on the surface of tiles during grouting. Hardened cement coatings, formed by hydraulically cured tiling and grouting materials, can only be removed later using acidic specialised cleaning agents. These cement-removers, however, are detrimental to cement-based joints. That is why you should protect the joints by wetting them beforehand, and then, after the application, rinsing the entire floor thoroughly (and neutralising if necessary).
Maintenance cleaning serves to remove everyday dirt from tiles. It is easy to do. The simplest way to remove dry dirt is by sweeping or vacuuming. Depending on the amount of dirt and where the tiles are being used, you can wipe them using something damp together with a normal household cleaning product such as a neutral cleaning agent or – depending on the type and extent of dirt – an alkaline or acidic cleaning agent. You should avoid cleaning agents containing care products. These may be problematic in the long run because they can cause a sticky layer of grease, wax or plastic to build up which then impairs the ceramic surface’s looks, hygiene, grip, and ease of cleaning.
- Choose a suitable cleaning agent.
- Give the cleaning agent some time to infiltrate and begin to dissolve the dirt.
- Assist the cleaning process physically using brushes, a microfibre cover for your washing appliance or similar – but do not use any pads or brushes with abrasive grain additives.
- Thoroughly remove the dirt you have loosened by wiping it up, rinsing it away or vacuuming it up before it dries again.
Basic cleaning is an intensive cleaning cycle conducted periodically when things get particularly dirty. You can clean ceramic flooring thoroughly when you need to using specialised cleaners, by leaving these agents for longer to take effect, and also by using brushes and scouring powder to provide more mechanical assistance.
Compared with other flooring materials, tiles of all kinds are generally exceptionally easy to clean. Glazed tiles are remarkably resistant to stains, while unglazed tiles have what is known as ‘surface finishing’ to prevent coloured fluids and oils from leaving marks. For polished fine porcelain tiles, many manufacturers recommend impregnating the flooring straight after it has been laid, cleaned and dried. This treatment will improve what is already an easy-to-care-for finish, making it even more resistant to dirt, oil and coloured liquids.
Unglazed, surface-finished ceramic flooring
Unglazed flooring which has been surface-finished at the factory (‘ceramic sealing’) is tough, exceedingly resilient to dirt, and very easy to clean. Surfaces which have been finished in this way do not need to be impregnated at all.
Unglazed, non-surface-finished ceramic flooring
Unglazed, non-surface-finished flooring materials should be preventatively impregnated if it is likely that they will be exposed to coloured liquids, fats or oils. Some tile manufacturers recommend applying surface impregnation straight after laying (before grouting).
Manufacturers of ceramic tiles and flagstones nowadays offer a wide range of non-slip glazed and unglazed products. These floorings are especially suitable for use in commercial, industrial and public areas, as well as moisture-prone barefoot areas around swimming pools, showers, saunas and so on. Non-slip tiles have level or – depending on where they are used – micro-roughened / profiled surfaces. Jointing has to be done in a way suited to the kind of usage and cleaning envisaged.
In commercial and public areas, non-slip surfaces are best cleaned mechanically using brushing machines, high-pressure cleaning devices or steam cleaners. Brushes and pads containing abrasive agents should on no account be used since they will impair the non-slip quality of the flooring. Cleaning agents, devices and processes used in public areas should be chosen to suit the kind of dirt and usage involved. Residual cleaning and disinfection agents impair non-slip qualities, so they should be rinsed away thoroughly. Cleaning agents which form films also have a negative effect on non-slip surfaces.
Many kinds of dirt can simply be removed using warm water, perhaps with additives such as vinegar-based cleaners (used for plant residues) or neutral soaps / alkaline household cleaning agents (used to remove fatty residues), and with some mechanical assistance (brushes).
Stubborn dirt and stains (usually in commercial and industrial areas) can be removed using suitable cleaning agents or specialised cleaners. Please refer to our "Stain Removal Lexicon" to find out which stains can be removed using which cleaning agents.
Note: all of the information which we provide about cleaning, caring and removing stains on ceramic tiles is based on the latest knowledge and material research. It is however of a general nature and cannot cover every single eventuality. You should therefore observe carefully the instructions given by your cleaning agent manufacturer. If in doubt, please consult your tile retailer or layer, or the manufacturer of the ceramic. We cannot be held liable for this information.
Stain Removal Lexicon
|Algae||Specialised cleaning agent:
algae remover, cleaning agent containing chlorine
|Bitumen||Organic solvents||E.g. petrol, acetone or scouring pastes. Remove coarse dirt using wooden scraper if possible|
|Blood||Alkaline cleaning agent – weak||Do not use hot water!|
|Chewing gum (dried)||Freezing spray||Available at chemists; freeze-dry residue then knock off|
|Coffee||Alkaline cleaning agent – weak|
|Epoxy resin||Scouring paste, specialised cleaning agent|
|Excrement||Alkaline cleaning agent – weak|
|Expansion gaps, residues||Mechanical||E.g. remove coarse dirt using wooden scraper if possible|
|Fat||Alkaline cleaning agent – strong||For extreme dirt types: solvents|
|Felt-pen||Alkaline cleaning agent, organic solvent|
|Grooves containing dirt||Alkaline cleaner||Mechanical, e.g. using brush|
|Limescale deposits||Acidic cleaning agent|
|Lime soap residues||Acidic cleaning agent – weak|
|Lipstick||Alkaline cleaning agent – weak|
|Metallic markings||Acidic cleaning agent||Mechanical assistance (e.g. brushes)|
|Mould, black||Cleaning agent containing chlorine, mould remover|
|Moss||Specialised cleaning agent:
|Nail varnish||Organic solvents||E.g. acetone|
|Oil||Alkaline cleaning agent – strong||For extreme dirt types: solvents|
|Paint spillage||Organic solvents||E.g. petrol, acetone or scouring pastes. Remove coarse dirt using wooden scraper if possible|
|Pencil marks||Mechanical cleaning||Eraser, scouring powder|
|Plant residues||Specialised cleaning agent:
algae or moss remover
|Red wine||Alkaline cleaning agent|
|Rubber marks||Mechanical cleaning||Eraser or scouring powder|
|Rust deposits||Acidic cleaning agent|
|Tar||Organic solvents||e.g. petrol, acetone or scouring pastes. Remove coarse dirt using wooden scraper if possible|
|Urine scale||Acidic cleaning agent|
|Vomit||Alkaline cleaning agent – weak|
|Water-based paints and other water-soluble coloured substances||Water, alkaline cleaning agent – weak
|Wax||Hot water; alkaline cleaning agent – strong||For extreme dirt types: solvents, cleaning pastes|