When it comes to getting the gunk off your tile floors, the products you can find in the cleaning aisle aren't your only option. While the bottle solutions typically work for turning your tile from soiled to sparkling, they can also contain chemicals that you might want to avoid, especially if you have a pet or toddler who likes to sneak snacks off the floor when you're not looking. It's also possible that you've got a clean-up emergency and your bottled cleaner just spritzed its last spritz.
Whatever the issue, there are plenty of easy ways to make an affordable homemade tile floor cleaner using the items you likely already have in your pantry.
Prepping Before you Clean
To make sure you get the most out of your homemade cleaner, prep your tiles beforehand. Try to sweep away any dust and debris so that you're cleaning a totally smooth surface. This is especially essential if you're cleaning up a spill where something broke, as you don't want to risk glass or other materials scratching your floor.
Homemade Floor Cleaner With Baking Soda
Baking soda and vinegar are an excellent natural cleaning duo. The mix of an acid and a base creates a reaction that breaks down tough stains, lifts them and neutralizes any foul odors the mess may have left behind. Plus, they're gentle enough to use on several household surfaces, including tile. For a natural tile floor cleaner with vinegar and baking soda, gather the following ingredients:
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1 tablespoon dish detergent
- 1 gallon hot water
- Essential oils, such as peppermint, pine or lavender (optional, for scent)
Combine the ingredients while the water is still hot, and stir until the baking soda dissolves. Then, apply the solution to your floors with a damp washcloth or mop. Do a quick rinse afterward with water, and allow to dry completely.
Baking Soda and Vinegar to Clean Grout
The stain-lifting properties of baking soda and vinegar are also great for removing gunk from the hard-to-clean grout between your tiles. Plus, baking soda is a gentle abrasive, making it great for breaking down dirt and grease without ruining your floors in the process.
You don't need to do a deep grout clean every time you wash your tile floors as it's a time-consuming process. But it's an important step to take the time for every few months or when you notice that your grout is starting to get a little grimy. Grout is usually quite porous, so some types of grout lock in dirt, grease and moisture and become great feeding grounds for unwanted growth. A deep clean of your grout won't just leave your floors looking great, but it will also help guarantee that they're not home to mold and bacteria.
The method is a little different from mopping your floors, though. For an easy and affordable homemade floor cleaner with baking soda and vinegar that will turn even the filthiest grout white, gather these ingredients (you may need to adjust the amounts depending on the size of the floor you're cleaning):
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1 cup warm water
- About 1/2 cup vinegar
You'll also need a scrubbing brush, such as an old toothbrush, and a spray bottle.
Combine the cup of baking soda with the cup of warm water. You may need to play around with the amounts a little, but work with it until the mixture becomes a thick paste. Then, spread it on the grout.
Next, put the vinegar in a spray bottle and spritz it gently over the paste. You should see it lightly foam. Some people prefer to mix the vinegar directly into the paste. However, the vigorous scrubbing it takes to get rid of grout stains and the time that the solution must sit (as opposed to the relatively quick, easy rinse that comes when you use vinegar in a mopping solution), can work to discolor or damage some types of tiles over time. This method allows you to get all the power of the vinegar without any damage.
Once you've spread the paste and sprayed it with the vinegar, let it sit for at least 15 minutes. This part is important as the vinegar and baking soda need time to lift any tough stains and grease. After letting it sit, use a stiff cleaning brush or old toothbrush to scrub away at the paste, taking care to work away at the more stubborn spots. It may also help to rinse some of the paste with warm water as you go along to ensure the grout is getting clean. When you're done, rinse the grout with warm water, and let it dry completely.
Homemade Floor Cleaner Without Vinegar
Vinegar is generally safe on tile, but as previously mentioned, repetitive use can discolor or damage tile over time. You also may not love the smell. That's OK! There are other ingredients you can use to create a solution without vinegar. One of the most popular is castile soap. Castile soap is a natural, toxin-free soap that's typically made of different oils including olive, coconut and hemp. It's a great universal cleaner because it's gentle, eco-conscious, works into a nice lather and is super affordable both in liquid and bar form. You should be able to find it at any drugstore, online retailer or in bulk at places like Costco.
In order to make a homemade no-rinse floor cleaner, gather the following ingredients:
- 6 teaspoons baking soda
- 3 teaspoons liquid castile soap
- 1 cup warm water
Put the baking soda in a spray bottle and add the cup of warm water. Stir or shake until the baking soda completely dissolves. Then, add the castile soap. You're not going to want to stir or shake as vigorously now – too much activity will cause too many bubbles, which will prevent the solution from mixing properly. A gentle swish of the soap around the bottle is all you need. Spritz the solution onto your tile, let it sit for a few minutes, and then wipe it clean with a rag or paper towel.
If you don't have any baking soda on hand, that's no problem! Castile soap can always be diluted with water to make an effective general-purpose cleaner that's safe on a wide variety of flooring types. But if your tile has a little more grime than usual, the baking soda adds some extra power to lift stains and neutralize odors.
By using any of the above natural and homemade solutions about once a week, your floors can be free of dirt, harmful chemicals and mold or bacteria growth.
- University of Wisconsin Extension: Baking Soda - The Everyday Miracle
- Bob Vila: Homemade Grout Cleaner
- Dr. Bronner: Castile Soap Dilutions Cheat Sheet
- North American Tile Cleaning Organization: How To Clean Ceramic Tiles and the Grout Between Tiles
- David Suzuki Foundation: All-Purpose Cleaner Recipes
- Eco-cycle: Eco-Friendly Cleaning Recipes
Rachelle Dragani is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn with extensive experience covering the lifestyle space. Her work on topics including smart home technology, pest control, living green, budget home repair and helpful household tips have appeared in publications including Bob Vila, Esquire, Popular Mechanics, Gizmodo and Yahoo.