How to Clean Terra-Cotta Floor Tile

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Terracotta floors provide a unique and beautiful accent to your home. If maintained properly, they can be expected to last for many years. Proper cleaning on a regular basis is an essential first step to keeping your terracotta tiles in great condition. Keeping grout clean will help the floor as a whole to shine, and proper treatment of surface stains on tile is essential. Frequent resealing of grout is also a critical step to maintaining this sort of floor.

How to Clean Terra-Cotta Floor Tile
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Terracotta Tile Cleaning Tips

Part of the challenge when it comes to maintaining terracotta tile is that it becomes more porous over time. This allows staining, watermarks and debris to settle into crevices in the surface. One key way to avoid these problems is to frequently vacuum your floors to keep the surface clean and limit the agents that are able to inflict damage on the tiles. Be sure not to scratch the floors with rough vacuum attachments, however. A damp or soft mop is also a great second step for keeping tiles clean and in good condition.

Terracotta Floor Tile Polish

One excellent way to maintain the look of your terracotta floor tiles is by frequently polishing them with linseed oil. This helps to darken their color and maintain their fresh look, despite any pores that may open up over time.

To determine whether your floors require this treatment, place water in the middle of a tile. If it soaks in and spreads out over a 15-minute period, your tiles are too porous. This puts them at risk for accumulating dirt, debris and stains. In addition, additional moisture that soaks into the tiles can further increase their porosity.

Before you begin, use a mop to apply a 25-percent solution of stone floor cleaner and warm water to remove all traces of dirt from the tile. Let it sit for 15 minutes to remove stubborn dirt or stains. Then, rinse and dry.

Boil linseed oil and work it into the tiles and the surrounding grout using a soft-bristled toothbrush or paintbrush. Let the oil soak in for 20 minutes, then rub in any excess oil. Let the floor sit for at least eight hours or possibly as long as three days. Linseed oil goes a long way toward protecting your terracotta floors and sealing them against additional pore formation.

Terracotta Floor Sealants

Another popular method for protecting terracotta is to seal it with a mixture of half boiled linseed oil and half turpentine. If you follow this up with additional coats, use more oil and less turpentine for each subsequent treatment. The latter is used mainly to help the oil penetrate, so later layers need less turpentine.

Each coat of this treatment will darken the color of the floor and help improve its porosity. Let the mixture dry for at least 24 hours, particularly in cold or damp weather. To further seal the floor, you can follow up this treatment with a thin coat of beeswax.


Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (, and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity (

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