How to Clean Unglazed Ceramic Tile & Grout

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With a unique matte finish, unglazed ceramic tile and grout are gaining popularity among homeowners looking for stylish floor tile. But because unglazed ceramic tile is more rough than glazed ceramic tile, it acts like a magnet for dirt and debris. The dirt sinks into its pores, so cleaning unglazed tiles requires work. While it's not necessarily more challenging to clean unglazed ceramic tile than it is to clean glazed ceramic tile, it's more time-consuming.

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How to Tell if You Have Unglazed Ceramic Tile & Grout

First, take a close look at your tile and grout to determine if it's glazed or unglazed. The only big difference between unglazed and glazed ceramic tiles is the glaze or finish. To make glazed tiles, a coat of liquid glass is applied to the tile surface after firing. Unglazed ceramic tile will usually have a matte finish, whereas glazed tile will be noticeably shiny. Glazed tiles are resistant to moisture, which makes cleaning them as simple as swiping them with an all-purpose cleaner. Unglazed ceramic tiles are somewhat porous, which means you must be gentle when cleaning them.

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Things You'll Need

How to Clean Unglazed Ceramic Tile & Grout

1. Sweep the Tile

Take a broom and sweep the tile to remove any loose dirt and debris before you get started on a deeper clean.

2. Inspect the Grout

Inspect the grout between your unglazed tiles to see if there are any cracked, chipped, or otherwise worn spots. Such damage could leave your tile vulnerable to moisture damage, which can weaken and loosen the tile over time. You may need to regrout the tile if there is significant wear or damage.

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3. Make a DIY Cleaning Solution

In a bucket, mix together 1 cup of white vinegar, 1 teaspoon of gentle dish detergent, and 1 gallon of warm water. Swish it around with your hands (or with a long scrub brush) to stir it together until it's all combined.

4. Scrub the Tile

Dip a soft scrub brush in your cleaning solution and begin scrubbing the dry unglazed ceramic tile to lift dirt and grime. Be relatively gentle as unglazed tile is not scratch-resistant. If there are visible stains, use some elbow grease to scrub them out. Scrub stubborn stains with a mixture of white vinegar and water or hydrogen peroxide and water.

5. Rinse the Tile

Wet a clean cloth in warm water, wring it out so it's not dripping wet, and wipe down the tile and grout that you just cleaned. This will rinse away any excess cleaning solution along with the dirt it picked up. You may need to repeat this process with another clean cloth a few times until the tile is completely clean.

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