Keep Your Tiles Sparkling: Common Causes of Stains and How to Remove Them

 In Keeping Tiles Clean

Tiles can be simple and classy or extravagant and luxurious, depending on the design. This flexibility makes them a favorite building material in residential properties, particularly in bathrooms and kitchens. Their durability and low maintenance make them perfect for such rooms and other parts of the house that get frequent traffic.

However, they’re not resistant to stains. Daily exposure to dust, moisture, and debris may result in a buildup of grime on the tile’s surface. It could lead to bigger problems, such as mold and mildew growth. When these problems are left unaddressed, your tiles may develop stains and lose their aesthetic appeal. Bacteria may also grow in the accumulation of stains.

How to Remove Common Tile Stains

Whether you have tile floors or a tile backsplash to complement the stone countertop you had installed, it’s important to keep them clean. Your home tiles require regular upkeep — from sweeping and mopping floors to wiping down walls — to prevent stains. Here are some common tile stains.


Efflorescence is the white residue that is commonly seen on tiles. It is caused by water penetration, specifically when the minerals in water crystallize on the tile’s surface. It’s an indication of failed/cracked grout joints or possible leaks in your ceiling, walls or floors.

Treatment: First, identify the source of the leak and fix it. Failing to do so will only result in a recurring problem for your tiles. You can remove efflorescence with a high-quality chemical cleaner. These cleaners are labeled as an efflorescence cleaner or are comparable to a muriatic acid. Using this type of cleaner/stripper is effective but if not applied properly it can leave the surface splotchy or uneven.  Consider hiring a professional to do this if you’re reluctant to use the cleaning product.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are also common problems in tiles. You can see them in the bathroom and other humid spaces. Poor ventilation is the cause of this problem as it encourages mold and mildew growth.

Treatment: High heat such as a commercial steam cleaner works magic on mold that has collected on top of your grout joints. Resealing your grout after, will prevent future mold from growing as long as standing water is not the cause of the issue. Ask us for a Pro referral. We have a few!

Preventative: A great way to keep mold from growing to begin with would be to wipe down bathroom walls and floors with a dry towel after showering. This removes the food source mold uses to grow. Keep the door open when no one’s using the bathroom to ventilate the space.

Cloudy Surface

Your tiles are prone to staining and damage when you use the wrong cleaning products. A milky or cloudy stain is a stark indicator of this. Continuing to use the wrong products can lead to permanent damage to the tile and its grout. This also could be caused by hard water.

Treatment: Similarly to efflorescence,. The use of a muriatic acid would have the best chance of taking this off. This problem is again best left to professionals. They have the expertise and tools to remove the cloudiness from your tiles without damaging their structural integrity or your fixtures. Reach out and we would be happy to provide you with a referral.

Preventative: Check your daily cleaner and make sure it’s eco friendly. Dawn dish soap or any other type of soft cleaners work great. 

Wiping down or using a squeegee after the last shower of the day will prevent that hard water from building up.


 Porcelain and ceramic tiles are bullet proof and hardly ever have staining issues unless it’s some type of burn. Staining of  A natural stone is inevitable, especially in rooms used frequently  and causes can vary. Water stains from standing water, a spilt bottle of nail polish remover, a forgotten glass of water or a glass of spilt wine. Whatever it is, it becomes an eye-sore that needs a remedy. 

Treatment: There is a big difference between a stain and  etching. Most common stains in the kitchen are oil based and  can sometimes be pulled out with a poultice mix. Poultice acts in the same way as a green clay facial mask. Pending the type of poultice you find it may recommend leaving it on for a couple days while it works its magic. Heavy floor traffic can be fixed with a commercial deep steam clean. Or, depending on the type of stone it can be buffed out with a large floor buffer.

Etching can not be fixed with the poultice method. It is more of a permanent issue. Mostly caused by  heavy cleaning chemicals or a missed acidic spill, such as that spilt glass of wine or the ring from a bowl of lemon juice that was left out overnight. Luckily it is just a surface wound and can in most situations be polished out. This is easier said than done and a professional or a lot of youtube videos will be needed to understand the right process for the type of surface that you’re dealing with.     

Preventative: For both solid and stone tile surfaces Make sure to clean tile surfaces after each use. Spilling wine or lemon juice is not the end of the world but if left unattended or unnoticed overnight it can permanently  etch your stone.

If cooking with or using a product that is acidic, like nail polish remover, have a protective solid barrier between it and the counter. 

If your stone is porous enough such as a slate to accept a topical sealer, look into the steps needed to take vs. applying a penetrating sealer. A topical sealer is a thicker sealer which creates a thin barrier on the surface. Wax is a common ingredient found in this type of product.

Tile and natural stone are great materials for any home. Ensure you take good care of it to preserve its aesthetic appeal and prevent damage to its structural integrity. If you require professional help in cleaning or repairing your tiles, feel free to contact Strictly Tile

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