How to clean bathroom tiles – instructions for every type of tile

Get your bathroom sparkling in no time with stain-busting ideas and step-by-step instructions to keep bathroom tiles looking as good as new

Cleaning the bathroom is never at the top of anyone's list as a fun thing to do, but with our top tips on how to clean bathroom tiles, it's a job that can be made a lot easier. So once you've chosen your perfect bathroom tile idea, regular cleaning will keep them looking their best.

Bathroom tiles need regular care and cleaning to prevent a build up of grime from shampoo and soap, but how you clean them depends on the type of material your tiles are made from.

If you're about to begin a bathroom project there are plenty of tiles to choose from – from shower tile ideas to bathroom floor tile ideas – but it's worth considering the maintenance needed for different tile types before you make a decision as some may need sealing and regular upkeep, while others can be easily cleaned in no time.

Take a look through our top tips on how to clean bathroom tiles.

How to clean bathroom tiles

bathroom with white tiled walls and grey tiled flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Lee)

Before you reach for the bathroom cleaner, it's vital to check the manufacturer's advice for cleaning your specific tiles to prevent any damage to the tile surface.

Natural stone requires sealing so don't apply any cleaning solution unless this has been done. And, along with marble, you should only use a cleaning solution for these specific tiles.

Porcelain and ceramic tiles are normally pre-sealed and are much easier to maintain. The main thing to remember is that regular cleaning makes it easier to keep tiles in top condition.

Once you have chosen the correct cleaning solution for your tiles, try a test patch in an inconspicuous area to make sure there is no damaging effect. Then follow the cleaning instructions below depending on your specific tile type.

How to clean ceramic bathroom tiles

bathroom with pink ceramic tiled wall

(Image credit: Topps Tiles)

1. Brush away dust

Before you start cleaning bathroom wall tiles, wipe down the surface with a dry cloth to remove any dust and debris. If you use a wet cloth you will end up spreading dust around your tiles and it's harder to clean.

2. Avoid harsh chemicals

Begin by using warm water and a microfibre cloth to wipe over your tiles, for cleaning a big build up of grime add a splash of household detergent. 'Make sure you avoid harsh chemical cleaners as these can damage the glaze on the surface of tiles over time,' explains Colin Lincoln-Evans, buyer at Tile Mountain. 'Steer clear of solutions containing ammonia, bleach and/or acids and you'll be fine.'

3. Wipe dry

While cleaning your tiles, carefully work around any bathroom fittings to remove stubborn build ups and be aware of how to clean grout in tiles too. Once clean, wipe over the tiles with a dry microfibre cloth to prevent any water marks from setting in.

How to clean bathroom marble tiles?

bathroom with marble tiled wall and white bathtub

(Image credit: Adam Carter)

1. Clear the surface

Sweep up any surface fluff and dust before you start cleaning the tiles.

2. Clean little and often

The best way to keep marble tiles in top condition is to clean on a regular basis. 'Using a specific cleaner is recommended, but mild, eco-friendly washing up liquid also works well,' advises Sarah Dempsey, cleaning expert at MyJobQuote. 'Dilute it with water and use a spray bottle to moisten but not saturate the tiles and wipe over with a clean, damp cloth. Then dry off with a dry cloth or towel to bring the shine back.'

How to clean bathroom stone tiles

bathroom with stone tiled walls and white washbasin

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

1. Make sure tiles are sealed

When using natural stone tiles in your home, it's vital that they are sealed properly to prevent them from staining and absorbing moisture and grime. 'There are different types of sealant depending on the type of stone and its finish, for example unpolished versus polished, so it's important to purchase the correct sealer with your tiles,' advises Harriet Goodacre, brand communications manager and Tile consultant at Topps Tiles. 'It's especially important to prolong the life of your sealer by using the correct cleaning products. Always use a pH neutral cleaner and a damp cloth, or on natural stone floor tiles a steam mop.'

2. Sweep over the surface

Wipe over the tiles with a dry cloth of soft brush to remove any dust.

3. Use a pH neutral cleaner

To clean stone tiles, use a pH neutral cleaning solution and a damp cloth and wipe over the tiles. Cleaning regularly makes it a much easier job and will help prevent grime from setting in. Wipe over with a dry cloth once clean.

How to clean bathroom floor tiles

bathroom with white bathtub and printed tiled flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

1. Sweep up

Begin by sweeping up any dust, cobwebs etc and vacuuming in corners where debris can easily gather.

2. Pick the right cleaner

Choose a tile cleaning solution for your specific tile type and try a test patch first before cleaning the whole floor.

3. Work towards the door

Using a mop and bucket filled with your chosen cleaner, start in the area furthest away from the door to your bathroom. Clean the floor in a sweeping motion and go over any stubborn stains to remove them. Work backwards towards your door to avoid stepping on the clean floor while it's wet. Leave to dry naturally before walking on it.

Can I clean bathroom tiles with vinegar and baking soda?

Yes and this is an easy way to save money at home, as long as they are not marble or natural stone. First you need to give the surface a dusting. Wipe over the tiles with a dry cloth to remove any dust so it doesn't get mixed into the cleaning solution.

In a bowl, make a paste by mixing together vinegar and baking soda. Brush the paste over your tiles or use a microfibre cloth to apply and leave for a little while so the solution can breakdown any limescale and soap scum.

Wash off the vinegar and baking soda solution with warm water and dry the surface with a microfibre cloth, buffing until bright and shiny.

How do I clean limescale from bathroom tiles?

If you live in a hard water area limescale can build up quickly leaving your tiles looking dull. Clean over the tiles with a dry cloth or brush to remove any loose dirt or dust.

Use a specialist tile cleaner for your tile type to remove limescale. You can also try the natural method above using vinegar and baking soda although this should never be used on marble or natural stone tiles. Spray over the tiles and wipe over with a clean damp cloth until the limescale has been removed.

Wipe over with a clean, dry cloth. The best way to avoid limescale is to clean your tiles on a regular basis to prevent it from building up making it harder to remove.

What's the best way to clean bathroom tiles?

Starting from the top of your wall working your way down helps to prevent drips as you clean bathroom tiles. It's also a good idea to clean wall tiles before you start on the floor so you can sweep up any dust that falls onto the floor tiles after cleaning. Using a tile cleaner for your specific tiles will produce the best results.

How often should I clean bathroom tiles?

Little and often is the best approach when it comes to cleaning bathroom tiles. While it's not the nicest job to do, if you make the effort to wipe down wet tiles after a shower with a microfibre cloth, it will prevent build ups of limescale and soap stains. Then all you need to do is freshen up your bathroom weekly using a specific tile cleaner and give them a light buff to keep them in top condition.

Amy Hodge

Amy Hodge has been working on interiors magazines for over 11 years. She's a freelance writer and sub editor who has worked for some of the UK's leading interiors magazines including Ideal Home, Style at Home and Country Homes & Interiors. She started at Style at Home just after it launched as food editor and is now chief sub editor for Ideal Home, Style at Home and Country Homes & Interiors.