The Best Way to Clean Greasy Ceramic Tile

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There are a few different things you can do to clean your greasy ceramic tiles.
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If you have a problem with greasy residue on your tiled kitchen floor, perhaps you should take some advice from a crew that specializes in cleaning greasy restaurant floors. According to Shoes for Crews, the process involves three basic steps:

  1. Give the floor a good sweeping
  2. Apply a degreasing solution
  3. Mop with plenty of clean water mixed with bleach.

That's a good regimen for a vinyl floor, and it will definitely clean the surfaces of ceramic tile, but two considerations remain. The first concerns how to mix a safe and effective degreasing solution, keeping in mind it's for home and not commercial use, so it shouldn't contain smelly chemicals. The second concerns the best method for cleaning the tile grout, which holds onto grease more stubbornly than tile.

A Safe, Effective Cleaning Solution

It's axiomatic that you need some kind of soap solution to loosen grease because water alone, even hot water, can't cut it. Soap acts with water and grease to form an emulsion that ideally washes away with clean water, but the emulsion, being filled with minute grease particles, can leave a cloudy residue. You want a floor cleaner that doesn't leave a residue. The one recommended by One Good Thing includes two not-so-secret ingredients to prevent this from happening: distilled white vinegar and washing soda.

The recipe for an average-size floor is as follows:

  • 2 gallons of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon dish soap
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup washing soda

Washing soda is a natural compound similar to baking soda, but it has a slightly different chemical composition, and it is much more effective for lifting stains and dissolving grease. It acts by creating a highly alkaline water solution that, like ammonia, acts on grease to turn it into a soap that washes away easily. Vinegar, on the other hand, is acidic, and it helps dissolve the bonds that hold grease and dirt to the tiles to make mopping even more effective.

Cleaning Oily Residue on Tiles

The cleaning procedure you use at home isn't much different from the one cleaning crews use for cleaning greasy restaurant floors. However, your floors, hopefully, aren't as greasy as restaurant floors, so you shouldn't have to apply as much effort.

You basically start by sweeping and vacuuming to remove loose dirt and anything that might dissolve in the cleaning solution and cause a stain. You then mop the floor thoroughly with a string or microfiber mop — not a sponge mop — spending as much time on each part of the floor as necessary to lift stains and ground-in dirt. Finish up by mopping again with clean, warm water and letting the floor dry.

Cleaning Greasy Tile Grout

Unlike the tile surfaces, the grout between the tiles is porous. Even if the floor has been sealed, it can still absorb some of the greases and oils, which give it an unappealing dark color and ruin its appearance. Unfortunately, you can't always remove grease from tile grout by mopping.

To give your tile floor a thorough cleaning, you'll probably have to get down on your hands and knees and scrub the grout with a toothbrush and a cleaning paste. The one most often recommended by cleaning professionals is made from baking soda and peroxide, which foam when mixed together. The foam, which is caused by the release of carbon dioxide, loosens dirt from the grout so you can scrub it away.

Tile grout needs to be resealed every one or two years for protection. If you do this, you can probably avoid having to scrub it, because it will repel greases and oils more readily and regular mopping should keep it clean.


Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at

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