This 4-Step Cleaning Method Keeps My Old Tile Floors Looking Like New
Ever since I moved into my Colonial-style home (built in 1941), the ceramic tile floors in my kitchen and bathrooms have been a constant source of frustration for me. No matter how vigorously I mopped the tiles or scrubbed the grout lines, the floors always managed to still look dirty and dingy. While bleach could certainly get them looking cleaner, I’m not a big fan of using toxic chemicals in my home and prefer to use more natural cleaning products. So I decided it was time to revamp my tile-cleaning method.
One of the biggest contributors to the overall drab appearance of my floors was the bits of dirt that would collect in the grooves of the tiles. Scrubbing those on my knees with a toothbrush felt hopelessly laborious, so investing in a long-handled deck brush was my first order of business. After watching a large volume of cleaning videos on TikTok and YouTube, I finally came up with my own mash-up of cleaning techniques — and it worked so well! Not only do my tile floors look new when I use this method, but it’s also much easier on me physically.
Here are the four proven steps that I follow to get my tile floors looking super fresh and clean.
Step 1: Vacuum the floor.
To remove any loose dirt and debris from the tiles, I start by vacuuming the entire floor with my HEPA-filtered stick vacuum. It comes with a soft-brush roller that works on tile and hardwood floors, and I find it much more effective at picking up crumbs and dust than sweeping with a broom. I’ll also switch to the crevice nozzle so I can get into the hard-to-reach places like corners, along baseboards, and underneath the cabinets.
Step 2: Scrub the floor with a deck brush.
Next, I spray this multi-surface cleaner directly on the tiles and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing it with the aforementioned long-handled deck brush. I work in small four-foot sections at a time, spraying and scrubbing one area, before moving onto the rinsing step, and then spraying and scrubbing the next four-foot section.
The cleaner that I use is made with plant-derived cleaning ingredients and essential oils, and its lavender scent is simply heavenly. It sneaks a bit of aromatherapy into the midst of an otherwise dreadful house chore, making it way more tolerable, and maybe even a bit pleasant.
Using a deck brush has been one of the biggest game-changers in my cleaning method, as it allows me to remain standing — no more scrubbing on my knees! I also feel like I have more scrubbing power when I use it as opposed to a handheld scrub brush, as I can leverage my total body weight instead of relying on arm strength alone.
Step 3: Rinse the floor with a mop.
Once I’ve finished spraying and scrubbing a four-foot section of tiles, I’ll rinse off the cleaner with a spray mop. I simply spray the section with water and mop up all the dirt and cleaner. I alternate between steps two and three, spraying and scrubbing a small section with cleaner, and then rinsing it, until I’ve cleaned the entire floor. Alternatively, if you don’t own a spray mop, but have a Swiffer WetJet, here’s what you can do: Refill the empty bottle of cleaner with warm water, and slide a soft ankle sock onto the mop head. Voila! A spray mop.
Step 4: Sterilize and dry with a steam mop.
Now, this last step is optional because steps one through three are enough to thoroughly clean your tile floor. But I recently became acquainted with the virtues of a steam mop, and I’m hooked on its cleaning power. It uses 212-degree Fahrenheit steam to sterilize surfaces, and it’s highly effective at removing any leftover soapy residue or dirt from the tiles that the spray mop didn’t pick up.
I simply fill the tank on my steam mop with water, attach a reusable microfiber cleaning pad to it, and quickly do a once-over on the floors. The steam sizzles away any potential grime (which tends to build up in a kitchen like mine that lacks an exhaust vent), dries quickly, and leaves my tile floor looking oh-so-sparkling clean.