How to Clean and Seal Porcelain Tile and Grout
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Rust-Oleum.
We’ve been thoroughly enjoying our laundry room over the past few months. It’s wonderful to have an organized space to tackle laundry (see how I organized it here!) and I still love everything about the design, colors, and overall vibe in the space. However, there was one task still lingering on my to-do list for this space…seal porcelain tile floors and grout.
I know many of us are spending more time at home lately and it’s a good time to tackle those tasks that can easily get pushed to the bottom of your home’s to-do list. Sealing your tile, stone, and grout on a regular basis is key to prevent it from getting dirty and damaged. A top reason grout is stained or becomes loose is because it wasn’t sealed or the sealer is worn down. Some people try to use bleach on their grout to clean stains, but that is a huge no-no! That actually eats away at the grout and makes it so much worse. Don’t do that…trust me.
When Do I Need to Seal My Tile?
While the porcelain tile in our laundry room didn’t require sealing, the grout does – and regular re-sealing is important. Depending on how much your tile and grout are exposed to wear and tear will determine how often you need to seal.
I also noticed that I had some staining in my grout lines from spilled laundry detergent. If the grout was sealed properly, that wouldn’t have stained. So I knew it was probably time to clean and seal our porcelain tile. The same goes for ceramic tile, tile backsplashes, and natural stone countertops. You’ll want to seal these regularly to keep everything looking good!
To test if yours needs to be sealed, place a few drops of water on the surface and see if it beads up. If it soaks into the tile or stone in less than a minute, then it’s time to reseal!
Clean your Tile
As with many DIY projects, this one is all about the prep work. You want to get your tile and grout really really clean before you seal it. If you seal dirty tile, it will forever remain dirty! So, cleaning it thoroughly is a must.
I used this Miracle Sealants Tile and Stone Cleaner. It’s non-toxic, yet it can tackle really tough stains. It comes in a bunch of sizes, but I went with the spray bottle which was more than enough for our laundry room. I’ll be able to use it for years to come all over the house! Even though I used it on my porcelain floor tile, this can be used for all kinds of tile and stone (granite, marble, ceramic tile, and more). You can see the full list here.
First, I vacuumed the tile to get rid of any debris. Then, I took a good look at the floor, searching for stains and really dirty areas. You’ll want to spot treat those areas first so they get extra attention!
Spray the cleaner onto the stain and use a brush to agitate it (I wore gloves too, just to be extra cautious). Then, let it soak in and sit on the surface for about fifteen minutes. Once the time was up, I used a warm wet cloth to wipe up the residue. I did this on all of my “trouble spots” and they all looked much better after just one cleaning. Look, the grout stains are gone from the detergent!
I then tackled the rest of the floor, starting closest to the window and working my way out of the room. You’ll want to work in areas that you can reach because you’ll do small sections at a time. I did two rows of tile at a time…spraying, agitating, waiting, and wiping. The application part was easy. It was the waiting that was time-consuming. But once I was done, the floor was looking pretty darn good!
Removing Grout Haze
I couldn’t get started on sealing the floor until it was 100% dry…which took a few hours. While it dried, I decided to test out another product Rust-Oleum sent to me…their Miracle Heavy-Duty Cleaner. This is an industrial-strength cleaner that can remove dirt and grease, but I was drawn to another property of this product. It said it removes grout haze!
I tiled the laundry room at the end of last year and there was a slight grout haze left on the gorgeous green tile. I’m sure no one else notices it but me, but every time I walk into the laundry room, it bugs me. Grout haze is easiest to get off within 72 hours of tiling. This haze had been on there for months, so I wasn’t so sure this would work.
You have to let the product sit on the tile for five to fifteen minutes, which is tough when you are working on a vertical surface. I saturated a small kitchen sponge and delicately sponged the wall in the spots that needed some TLC. I was careful not to use too much product because I didn’t want it dripping all over and down the wall. If it dried up, I used my sponge and put more on there. I also used the back of the sponge to agitate a few stubborn areas. After fifteen minutes, I wiped it all clean with a wet rag.
This actually worked great and I was able to get most of the grout haze off. The stubborn spots aren’t 100% perfect but they look a lot better. If I would have used this in the days after tiling, I’m confident I could have gotten it all off! Next time…
How to Seal Porcelain Tile
Finally, my floor was dry and it was time to seal it. For this step, I used this 511 Impregnator. This forms an invisible barrier on the tile so it’s resistant to moisture and stains. It also makes the tile harder and less slippery, without altering the appearance at all. So don’t worry, this won’t make your tile super shiny or look any different at all!
Since I’m pregnant, Finn and I are extra cautious with just about every project, so I actually had him do the sealing portion of this project because it can be a little smelly. He donned knee pads (all that kneeling!), gloves, and a respirator.
You can use a rag or brush to apply the sealer, but I highly recommend picking up this $4 applicator because it makes the entire process less messy. The plastic part of the packaging is actually the tray, so you can pour about 1/2 inch of sealer into the tray and then dip your applicator right on in.
Just like with the cleaning, you’ll want to work in small sections. I had Finn dip the applicator in and do a light coat over the tiles and grout. Make sure you really get into the grout lines. He did about two rows at a time, allowing it to sit for five minutes before wiping it up with a clean, dry rag. If you let it sit for longer than that, it can get tacky. If that happens, don’t worry. Just pour more sealer on and wipe it all up.
It took a little bit of time, since he had to work in small sections, but Finn was totally done in about 45 minutes! Let the floor dry for about an hour and then it can see light foot traffic. It takes about 72 hours to fully cure, so don’t go driving a car on it (I’d have big problems if a car was being driven through my laundry room).
Floor Tile – Before & After
Here’s the before and after of the floor tile.
Not much of a difference, right? That’s the point! Yes, it’s definitely cleaner and stain-free, but overall, you can’t tell it has changed because the sealer creates an invisible barrier on the surface. Plus, this sealer is guaranteed to last for five years so we won’t have to do this for quite some time!
I’m happy knowing the tile and grout in our laundry room is now protected from spills and stains. I will soon be sleep-deprived and doing laundry, nonstop, so my future self thanks me (because I’m sure she’ll be spilling more detergent).
Now, I need to do the same exact steps on the tile in our first-floor bathroom. I might as well tackle all the homeowner tasks while we’re hanging at home…
Oh, and if you need any details about the laundry room, this reveal post links all of the sources and tutorials.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.