Cleaning & Maintaining Tile


This page is about the cleaning and maintenance for man-made tile products such as porcelain, ceramic, and glass. If you're looking for information about the cleaning and maintenance of natural stone tiles, please visit our Natural Stone Maintenance page.

What should I use to clean my man-made tile?


Glass, porcelain, and ceramic are all materials that you can clean with almost any household cleaner. If these tiles are set with a high-quality grout, such as urethane or single-component grout, you will have the most stain-resistant, easy-to-clean tile installation possible.

 

However, if your tile is set alongside a weaker or more porous material, such as cementitious grout or natural stone, you'll have to use a more gentle cleaning product to accommodate these materials. We recommend Kleen & Reseal, a tile-specific general purpose cleaner that won't damage grout, sealer, or natural stone.

 

Learn more about Cleaning Grout or Cleaning Natural Stone.

Do I need to seal porcelain, ceramic, or glass tiles?


Porcelain Tiles

Polished porcelain tile
These polished porcelain tiles are very durable, but they don't have an enamel glaze on the surface. A sealer should be applied to protect from staining.

You don't need to seal most porcelain tiles. They are too dense to absorb penetrating sealers, and most topical sealers will not stick to them. 

 

The only time you need to seal porcelain is when it's polished porcelain or certain unglazed porcelains. The polishing process opens up tiny micro-pores in the tile's surface, and as such the tile becomes susceptible to staining. Some unglazed porcelains, which lack an enamel glaze and have an exposed clay core, are susceptible to grease or oil stains. Use a quality penetrating sealer such as H2O Plus before grouting for 10+ years of increased stain resistance.

 

If you are sealing the cement-based grout between your porcelain tiles and some sealer gets on your tiles, don't worry: the sealer may leave a residue (buff off with a cloth or paper towel), but it won't negatively affect the porcelain in any way.

 

Ceramic Tiles

Green crackle glazed ceramic
This crackle-glazed ceramic needs a sealer before it can be grouted.

If your ceramic is a wall-specific ceramic tile (not durable enough for use on a floor), it may have small micropores in its glaze and should be sealed. If your grout is a contrasting color (for example, gray grout with white tiles), we recommend sealing your tiles before grouting; otherwise, the pigments in your grout may stain your ceramic tiles.

 

If your ceramic has a crackle glaze, we recommend sealing it to prevent stains and bacterial growth in the cracks.

 

If your ceramic is a floor-grade ceramic, the glaze is usually dense enough that it will not require a sealer. 

 

Ask us about specific ceramic tiles if you are not sure if they should be sealed or not.

 

Glass Tiles and Mosaics

Blue crackle glass mosaic
This crackle glass mosaic requires a coat of sealer before grouting.

Solid, glossy glass does not require sealer, as glass is a non-porous material. The only glass products that require a sealer are crackle glass, where the cracks and fissures could harbor stains and bacteria, and matte/frosted glass, where grout could stick to the surface and become hard to remove if not pre-sealed.

 

Beige travertine, botticino, mother of pearl, and glass blend.
This mosaic is a blend of travertine, marble, shell, and glass. 75% of this blend is porous and needs a sealer.

If your glass is in a mosaic blend with natural stone, ceramic, or other materials that need sealing, you can apply sealer to the entire mosaic all at once. The sealer on top of the glass will dry as a residue that you can buff off with a dry cloth or paper towel.


Share this information with a friend!