Cleaning and Sealing Tiles

This story shows how to clean and seal tile floors.


Although regular cleaning will keep your ceramic tile in good condition, some surfaces, especially in kitchens and family rooms, may require stain removal.

When you need to remove a stain, start with the techniques outlined in the chart below right. If these solutions don't work, ask a tile supplier for a commercial stain-removal agent made for your tile. Stubborn stains often can be removed with a cleaning agent mixed with baking soda, plaster of Paris, or refined clay. Deodorant-free cat litter works well. Mix the ingredients into a wet paste and apply it to the stain. Tape a plastic bag over the paste and let it sit for a couple of days. Then brush off the paste and rinse.

Unglazed tile usually requires a sealer, and even presealed tile may need periodic stripping and resealing.

Penetrating sealers soak into the tile bisque and preserve the natural color of the tile. Topical sealers lie on the surface of the tile and may lighten or darken the tile colors or change its sheen. Topical sealers wear off and can require yearly reapplication. When tiles look dull it could be time to strip and reseal them.

Prestart Checklist

About 45 minutes to vacuum and damp mop a 15x20-foot kitchen, 90 minutes to strip it, about the same time to seal it

Stripping: scrub brush and mop or scrubbing machine, vacuum Sealing: vacuum, applicator, buffer

Vacuum and clean surface

Materials Stripper, sponge, sealer, bucket, rags, wax if needed