According to a survey of remodeling pros by Angie’s List, bathroom remodels top the list as the most popular project for homes, with custom ceramic and porcelain tile showers gaining prominence. And why not? Ceramic and porcelain tile shower surrounds are a practical and eye-catching focal point in a well-designed bath. They do, however, need regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent damage and unsightly mold and mildew. Here’s what you need to know about how to clean tile shower surrounds.
Tools & Materials Needed
- A squeegee or towel
- Soft sponge
- pH neutral cleanser
- Grout brush or toothbrush
- Grout cleaner
- Stain-resistant sealer
Steps to Clean Tile Shower Surrounds
Step One: Prevent Mold & Mildew Buildup
The first step in ensuring a long, lovely life for your tile shower surround is preventing tile damage caused by mold and mildew. Dry your tile shower after each use; use a squeegee and towel to remove water droplets from the walls, door, and floor. A wet shower can lead to two things: Moldy grout, and pitted, etched tiles due to minerals in the water. Get in the habit of drying off your shower to avoid cleaning headaches later on.
Step Two: Deep Cleaning Stains and Mold
For stains, soap scum, and water marks, use an alkaline cleanser and a soft brush to clean tile shower surrounds. Be sure to rinse thoroughly with warm water and dry completely. If you’ve got a stubborn patch of mold or mildew in your grout, use a grout cleaner and scrub with a brush. Throw out a brush you’ve used to scrub up mold to prevent re-contamination later. If you are not using a product specifically recommended by the tile manufacturer, do a small spot test to make sure it doesn’t stain or damage your tiles.
Step Three: Ongoing Care & Maintenance
While porcelain and ceramic tile shower surrounds are durable and more resistant to stains, they are not impervious to discoloration from products some people use when they shower. To keep your tile surround in the best condition, treat it with a penetrating stain-resistant sealer that protects against both water and oil-based liquids. Do this as soon as the tile surround is installed and about once a year after that; check the instructions on the sealant, however, as some recommend more frequent reapplication for maximum protection.
Don’t use cleansers and detergents made for other bathroom fixtures on your tile surround because they can contain abrasives and chemicals that can scratch your tile and damage your grout. Use a soft sponge and pH neutral ceramic and porcelain tile cleansers for routine cleaning, and remember to dry the tile completely afterwards. While some people recommend using a white vinegar and water solution to clean ceramic and porcelain tiles, experts advise against it, since vinegar is highly acidic and can damage grout and the glaze on your tiles.
Use a grout brush or toothbrush to work the cleanser in between tiles to remove dirt and bacteria that cause mold. Avoid using lime and mineral dissolving products on your grout; they are too harsh and break down sealants.
Tile shower surrounds will keep their beauty and durability for decades if you keep them clean and dry between uses, apply sealant regularly, and avoid harsh cleansers and cleaning tools.