Dirt and grime can compromise the appearance of your terracotta floor, so regular cleaning is a must. This flooring material does require some special considerations, though. Learning how to clean terracotta tiles safely and effectively will help you keep your floor in great shape for many years.
Do’s and Don’ts for Cleaning Terracotta Tiles
For daily terracotta maintenance, turn to a broom or a vacuum. Daily sweeping and vacuuming are some of the best ways to remove loose dirt and debris.
You can use a soft cloth to occasionally remove dust from the corners and along the edges. Microfiber is a good material to use for this job.
You can also wash the tile floor with water and a sponge or mop. To ensure that you’re using clean and clear water, refill your bucket partway through the task.
Use just enough water to get the job done; there’s no reason to end up with puddles all over the floor. Afterward, go over the floor with a dry cloth to pick up as much of the remaining moisture as you can.
In general, stay away from ammonia and other harsh cleaners that might damage your floor. The same goes for rough scrubbers, such as wire brushes.
How to Clean Terracotta Tiles That Haven’t Been Sealed
You’ll need to be especially careful with unsealed tiles. Loose debris can scratch their surface, so make sure to sweep daily and sponge or mop weekly. If there are select areas that need extra attention, scrub them with a soft brush.
To get out stains, you may need to apply an acid that’s approved for use on clay surfaces. Muriatic and oxalic acids are usually acceptable, but be sure to follow all directions on the package.
How to Clean Sealed Terracotta Tiles
You’ll have a few more cleaning options with sealed tiles. To help the floor glow, you can add a mild detergent to your weekly mopping routine. Even a gentle dish soap will do the trick.
With sealed terracotta, you can also give the grout extra attention. A commercial grout cleaner is usually acceptable for this job. Be sure to dry the grout thoroughly after washing it.
You can also steam clean sealed terracotta. Although this can be a DIY job, you might want to hire the task out to a professional.
Other Cleaning Considerations for Terracotta Tiles
There are a few situations in which you might need to give your terracotta floor a little extra care.
Before applying sealer, be sure that the tiles are sparkling clean. You should do this whether you’re putting on sealer for the first time or refreshing the current coat.
First, vacuum the floor to remove as much dirt as possible. Run the vacuum hose along the edges. Use a soft cloth to pick up any dirt that remains near the edges or in the corners.
Next, mop the floor. You may want to use a bit of mild detergent in the water. Lift away stains with a stronger cleaner that’s approved for use on clay. Be sure to thoroughly rinse away the cleaning solution.
Let the floor dry completely — usually about a 30-minute process — before putting down sealer.
Environmental salts can leave a white residue on your terracotta. This is a problem known as efflorescence.
Although efflorescence may go away on its own, you can use a diluted hydrochloric acid solution to lift away these stains.
Importance of Regular Care
The more attention you pay to your tile floor on a regular basis, the easier you’ll find the care process. By keeping up with daily sweeping and weekly mopping, you’ll keep stains at bay and help your terracotta tiles shine.