The Right Way to Clean Your Bathroom Tiles

Alexandra Beuter

A little attention every day will save you a lot of work in the long run.

Bathroom tiles are a picturesque addition to any home. They can complement your fixtures, countertops, and set the overall tone for the room.

But they also require a lot of maintenance. Have you found yourself needing to deep clean because soap scum or that ever-present dampness is getting in the way of the “spa-like retreat” aesthetic you were going for?

Well, you’re not alone. As a breeding ground for bacteria, the bathroom is likely the dirtiest room in your home. The repeated dampness that comes with running hot water through the shower on a daily basis ends up dirtying your shower, tub, sink, vanity—essentially every surface in the room. There are several ways you can significantly minimize mold, mildew, soap scum, hard water stains, and more from accumulating.

Your bathroom tiles should get a quick daily wipedown and a weekly deep cleaning with solution to ensure they’re kept in optimal shape. Weekly cleaning can sound overwhelming, but regular maintenance can significantly reduce the amount of scrubbing needed, prevent buildup, and minimize wear over time. Once you switch to a weekly routine, you’ll find that keeping your bathroom in tip-top shape is actually quite quick and easy.

Ceramic and porcelain are the most common types of bathroom tiles, because they’re fairly low maintenance and are available in a wide variety of styles. The biggest difference is that porcelain is harder, heavier, more durable, and most importantly for a bathroom, less porous. And if you’re in the market for a home renovation, you’ll quickly realize porcelain is going to cost you more, because it’s highly water resistant and will wear better than ceramic over time. Tiles made of marble, granite, or slate, are beautiful but high maintenance, requiring specialized cleaners and can stain easily. (If you want a comprehensive cleaning breakdown by floor type, we’ve got you.

Keeping your bathroom tiles in tip-top shape is an important part of home maintenance, but it doesn’t have to be the most dreaded chore on your list. We’ve outlined how to clean bathroom tiles to have your space sparkling clean and moisture-free in no time.

Bathroom tile dos and don'ts

  • Start with the shower or tub. Next, move on to the accent tile and finish with the floor tile.

  • Consider opting for a steam cleaner. If you're dealing with significant grime and bacteria, these powerful tools sanitize and clean chemical-free using bursts of superheated water. They’re a great option for tough jobs and can speed up the cleaning process.

  • Avoid harmful substances and tools. These include ammonia or bleach, oil-based cleaners, and abrasive cleaning tools, as they can alter the color of your tile, stain the grout, and disrupt the sealed surface. You’re better off using no tools than the wrong tools, as they can do harm and create a need for repairs or replacements or parts prematurely.

  • Use what’s in your bathroom. One of the most powerful tools for cleaning bathroom tiles is well within reach. Your shower head or tub faucet can work wonders by creating steam across hard surfaces, which is great for lifting mold, mildew, soap scum, and hard water spots.

  • DIY! You can use common household ingredients like white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and a non-abrasive sponge.

  • Remove moisture as quickly as possible after showering. This is the most important tip of all! Make sure to turn on your fan during every shower—ventilating helps reduce the amount of moisture in the air. This simple step will extend the time between your scrubbing sessions because it also reduces bacteria buildup.

  • Use a squeegee after every shower. Like the fan, using a squeegee removes moisture, and it reduces soap scum and water marks. Every cleaning pro has a squeegee in their bathroom and you should, too!

  • Don’t forget to dry off. Drying time is powerful! When in a rush, wiping down your shower walls with your towel will make a big difference.

How to clean bathroom tiles in 3 easy steps

Here’s how to approach your weekly cleaning routine.

STEP 1: hot water

Run very hot water through the shower head or tub faucet to create a light coating of steam across the tile. This will help dislodge any pesky buildup easier and faster than starting with your cleaning agent.

STEP 2: vinegar or lemon juice

Vinegar and lemon juice are two household items that make for great DIY cleaning solutions that can do wonders for your bathroom. Many people opt to buy reusable 16-oz. spray bottles for cleaning solutions that combine household products.

  • Vinegar. Combine vinegar with warm water. Spray top to bottom, and allow the solution to sit for a few minutes. Don’t forget the corners! Most product build up and bacteria congregate in these areas as they’re the last to dry. If you see water stains on the faucet too, simply wipe with vinegar and watch them disappear almost instantly.

The ratio of vinegar to warm water will depend on the state of your tile:

  • For a deep clean against tough buildup, use a 50/50 ratio

  • For a solution comparable to a multi-surface spray, use the 1/5 rule of 3 oz. white vinegar and 12 oz. warm water

  • Lemon Juice. If you’re out of vinegar or would prefer a more enjoyable scent, mixing lemon juice with warm water in the same spray bottle is a great alternative. The high acidity makes it useful for cleaning both tile and grout. It may not be as economical as vinegar, but it’s very effective and the citrus scent is incredibly pleasant.

    • Leave on for a few minutes and then move on to scrubbing. Make sure to avoid all abrasive options—your tile will thank you. Giving the product time to soak will make removing all the buildup and grime much easier.

STEP 3: Dry off

Last but not least, use a microfiber towel to dry your tile and ensure no cleaning solution is left behind.

Supplies and products

These are some of the cleaning essentials I like to keep on hand that work great for a bathroom floor.

  • Microfiber cloths. Microfibers can hold up to six times their weight in water. They cling to dirt, trapping it deep into the fibers rather than spreading it around like many other towel fabrics do.
  • Large sponge. Choose a non-abrasive sponge to gently scrub away dirt and debris, then wipe with a microfiber cloth to ensure no residue is left behind.
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I love this product because it makes cleaning your tile quick and easy. It’s tough on dirt and provides a powerful clean, and all you need to do is add water. Plus, it’s made without harsh chemicals.

All done? Check out these 12 DIY Organization Hacks for bathroom organizing when you’re done cleaning to make your space really sparkle.

Article by Alexandra Beuter

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