How to Clean Quarry Tile Floors

Quarry tile is an unglazed terra cotta tile made of natural clay, giving it a somewhat rustic appearance. It is available in most earth tones but its most common color is a red that's similar to bricks' color range. This tile has been a favorite in commercial applications such as kitchens, bathrooms and rooms subject to heavy traffic or interior/exterior use. The main features of this tile are its low cost and durability. Like any flooring material, it can get dirty, especially in high-traffic areas. Luckily, cleaning it is not difficult.

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Typical terra cotta quarry tile.

Step 1

Clean your quarry tile thoroughly with a canister vacuum cleaner. Do not use a vacuum with a beater bar as this may drag grit across the tiles, causing scratches to the sealer or wax.

Step 2

Mop your floor with a cleanser. Consider using an enzyme-based, antibacterial cleanser such as EnziBrite or AquaMix, particularly if your quarry tile is in the kitchen as these types of cleansers cut grease and eliminate odors.

Step 3

Rinse your mopped floor to remove cleanser residue. It is often a good idea to use soft or distilled water if your tap water has high mineral content since you don't want to leave deposits on your tiles.

Step 4

Wipe your floor dry with towels. This is a useful step to determine if your tile has haze or if it is becoming discolored. (Wax can become yellowed as it ages.)

Step 5

If your tile floor looks like it has a film on it, add white vinegar to clear water and re-mop your floor. This should remove any haze. Dry the tile again.


F.R.R. Mallory

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.