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How to Clean Ceramic and Porcelain Tile Shower Surrounds

According to a recent survey of remodeling pros by Angie’s List, bathroom remodels topped the list as the most popular project for 2015, 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 cleaning and caring for your tile shower surround.

How to Clean Ceramic and Porcelain Tile Shower Surrounds

Regularly cleaning ceramic and porcelain shower tile may take some time and elbow grease, but it’s well worth it.

Tools & Materials:

  • A squeegee or towel
  • Soft sponge
  • pH neutral cleanser
  • Grout brush or toothbrush
  • Grout cleaner
  • Stain-resistant sealer

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.

Routine Cleaning

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.

Step Two: Deep Cleaning Stains and Mold

For stains, soap scum, and water marks, use an alkaline cleanser and a soft brush to scrub them out. 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.

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.

What steps are part of your regular bathroom cleaning regimen?

Browse our selection of Ceramic & Porcelain Wall Tile here. Add lasting style to your bathroom.

(5) Comments

  1. How to bring back the glaze n shine of d tiles tht has been tarnished with strong detergent? Pls help me as the toilet looks ugly bcos of this.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Aishah.

      Unfortunately the only option would be to remove the tile. If you put any finish on top it will just sit on the surface and collect more dirt and dust. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  2. Great article! I have also found, as a professional shower restorer, that leaving the door cracked open after a shower for some time helps the water vapor to disperse, cutting back on the propensity of mildew formation. I usually advise this to my clients, especially if they do not have great ventilation!

  3. What would recommend using on hard well water with alot of minerals that leave a very stubborn residue. and stains that most of the cleaners don’t remove it.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Theresa,

      Thank you for getting in touch! I suggest looking up TileLab products at your local hardware store. They have quite a few products that are made to take off the most stubborn stains. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

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