Regular cleaning will keep ceramic tile in good condition, but surfaces around an outdoor kitchen, barbecue, or dining space may become stained. To remove a stain, start with the steps outlined in the chart, below right. If these solutions don't work, ask a tile supplier to recommend a cleaning agent that's compatible with your tile.
A cleaning agent mixed with baking soda, plaster of Paris, or refined clay often is enough to remove stubborn stains. Deodorant-free cat litter also 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.
Unglazed tile usually requires a sealer. Penetrating sealers soak into the tile and preserve its natural color. Topical sealers lie on the surface of the tile and may change the tile color or surface sheen. Topical sealers wear off and require reapplication. If tiles look dull, it's probably time to strip and reseal them. Even presealed tile needs to be stripped and resealed periodically.
To remove old sealer, use a sponge or mop to spread stripper in an area that you can clean before the liquid dries (about 25 square feet). Scrub the area with a brush or with a floor machine. Don't let the stripper dry on the surface.
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 floor machine, vacuum cleaner
Sealing: vacuum cleaner, applicator, buffer
Vacuum and clean surface
Stripper, sponge, sealer, bucket, rags