Porcelain tile is an attractive upgrade, but not if it's dulled by dirt and grime. Proper maintenance keeps your porcelain tile looking bright and new. Attend to your porcelain finishes -- floors, countertops, shower stalls -- at least twice weekly, using a broom or soft cloth to remove debris. Once a month, or as the need arises, take the time to wipe the tile down with a gentle cleaning agent.
The Vinegar Solution
Vinegar is cheap and easy to store, and there's a good chance you have a bottle or two stashed away in your cupboard. It's also safe to use on all types of porcelain, though there are a few different cleaning methods. Whether you use apple cider vinegar or its distilled white counterpart, your porcelain finishes will thank you. Both types clean and shine, and they disinfect as well. To wipe your surfaces down with vinegar, mix up a solution of 2 gallons of water and 1/4 cup of vinegar; mop or wipe it on, and rinse away.
Tips for Textured Porcelain
Textured porcelain holds dirt more stubbornly than smooth tile. Tiny bits of dust and debris tend to get lodged in the crevices, making your floors and surfaces look dull. To best clean textured porcelain, sweep the tile in at least two different directions, and then apply your vinegar solution and allow it to saturate the surface for five minutes or longer. Once the solution has had time to penetrate, begin scrubbing with a soft-bristled brush, using the two-direction method. Afterward, rinse with clean water and allow it to dry.
Glamming Up Glazed Tile
Because it's been properly sealed, glazed porcelain tile is among the easiest types to clean. Sweep first, and then mop as usual using your gentle cleaning solution. Rinse clean with warm water. At this point, take the time to dry the tile as well, to help prevent it from spotting. Use a soft microfiber cloth or a piece of cheesecloth to dry and polish glazed porcelain tile.
Unglazed Porcelain Pointers
Cleaning your unglazed tile is easier than you might think. The process is similar to cleaning textured tile -- sweep or dust the area to be cleaned; apply your vinegar solution, and allow it to sink in for several minutes. Then scrub with a soft brush. Rinse and dry with a soft cloth. If you're unsure whether your porcelain tiles are glazed or unglazed, do a simple test: Apply a few small drops of water to a tile and allow it to sit for several minutes before wiping it away. If the tile darkens, it's likely the unglazed version.
Remove tough stains and haze from grout lines by using a solution of baking soda, water and vinegar. Add just enough water to baking soda to make a thick paste, and apply it to your grout with a toothbrush. Spritz on a 50-50 solution of vinegar and warm water and allow it to foam. Afterward, scrub with a soft brush and rinse as usual. If you're practicing a regular maintenance schedule with your porcelain surfaces, you should only have to pay special attention to your grout intermittently.
What Not to Do
If you prefer using commercial cleaners to vinegar, use caution when choosing your product. Steer clear of ammonia, bleach and any cleaner that's oil-based, because these cleaners may cause tiles to fade. Visit the floor-cleaning aisle of the home improvement store for products that specifically state they're safe to use on porcelain surfaces. Never use steel wool or harsh, abrasive brushes when scrubbing your delicate porcelain, and never allow standing water to remain on the surface for long periods of time.