How to Clean Unsealed Ceramic Tile

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Ceramic tile is one of the best materials for kitchens and bathrooms because it's easy to wipe up a spill, and it performs well in areas where there's a lot of water. Often, ceramic tile and grout are coated with a glaze that repels water and dirt, making it a cinch to clean. However, unsealed ceramic tile can freely absorb dirt deep into its pores, nooks, and crannies. This can be especially frustrating because it can feel like you'll never be able to get your floors truly clean. It can also lead to an overall dingy and dulled appearance on your floor.

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Consequently, unsealed tile requires frequent cleaning to prevent discoloration, and the best way to clean unsealed tile is with a scrubber and a powdered oxygen bleach solution.

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Have unsealed tile that needs a good scrubbing? Here's a step-by-step guide to getting them fresh and clean once again:

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Things You'll Need

1. Remove Debris from the Tile

Vacuum or sweep the tile to remove any loose dirt or debris.

2. Mix the Cleaning Solution

Mix a bleach solution. Use powdered oxygen bleach diluted in water according to the manufacturer's instructions. (A good substitute is mixing a solution of 1 part household bleach and 1 part water.)

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3. Apply the Bleach Solution to the Tile

Saturate the unsealed ceramic tile and grout with the bleach solution. Leave the solution on for 15 to 30 minutes to allow for sufficient penetration. If the floor begins to dry out at any point, add more bleach solution.

4. Scrub the Tile

Dip your plastic scrub brush into the bucket of bleach solution so it is dripping wet. Scrub the tile vigorously to remove dirt, debris and discoloration. The area scrubbed should remain quite wet. Add more fresh solution if necessary.

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5. Rinse the Tile

Using a mop, rinse the floor clean with fresh, warm water to remove the cleaning solution.

6. Dry the Excess

Dry up any excess moisture with a cotton towel or dry mop.

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Does Ceramic Tile Need to be Sealed?

Generally ceramic tile does not need to be sealed (although you should double check with your manufacturer), but natural stone like slate, marble, or travertine is very porous and will need sealant. However, should you choose to seal your ceramic tile, be sure to test it in an inconspicuous portion of the floor so that you can make sure it doesn't change the color of the surface.

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