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How to Clean Saltillo Tile Flooring (Updated Visual Guide)

How to Clean Mexican Saltillo Tile

Easy DIY Tips from the Pros

Brace yourself. The topic of how to clean Saltillo tile is not as hard as some people think. In fact, I’ll give you three easy steps to follow.

So, before dumping a lot of money into professional cleaning services, let me help. Try these three easy steps to spruce up your floor.

Let’s jump right in.

mexican tile in spanish style home

Many moons ago, did your floor look fresh and vibrant like this?  And now, is it dark, dull, and has dirty grout lines?

Just getting started? Check out this article on installing Saltillo on a wood subfloor!

Vacuum Saltillo Tile

start with the basics

First Step – Vacuum.

Some people like to sweep.  As for me, I don’t understand sweeping in an indoor space.  The idea of pushing dirt and dust around so it collects in grout joints makes my skin crawl.  Buy a vacuum and suck up the dirt.  Get it off the floor and out of your home!

Vacuuming regularly reduces the chance for that dust and dirt to absorb into your grout lines.  Have you ever wondered why old floors have dark grout lines?  That dark color is dirt, grime, dust, and all the gross things.  Please, use a vacuum to clean Saltillo tile flooring.

I use something similar to this.

vacuum saltillo tile floor

Inspect the Saltillo Tile Floor

rustic characteristics

Step 2 – Inspect.

As the years pass, your Saltillo flooring evolves with enhanced rustic characteristics.  That’s an excellent way of saying… you’ll see more bumps, chips, hairline cracks, and color variations.  These are not defects. 

Check this out if you’re looking for other Terra Cotta Flooring Ideas!

Those rustic characteristics are part of the norm.  If you want to clean Saltillo tile, then scrutinize these characteristics.  When you find a chip exposed to raw terracotta clay, apply a thin coat of sealer. This prevents the raw clay from flaking away or deteriorating.

Additionally, here’s some quick advice about Saltillo tile sealer. Whatever tile sealer you choose must be chemically compatible with any other sealer you’ve applied on the floor previously.  Don’t create more maintenance by using an improper sealer, which can peel or flake off in time. When in doubt, test the sealer first in an unseen area. Give it a few days to dry and fully cure. Watch for any discoloration, peel, flaking, or other weird things.

Want to See It In Your Room?

Room Visualizer Tool

Also, I’m not a big fan of waxing Saltillo tile floors.  Waxing these clay floors requires a lot of maintenance over time.  As the wax dulls, a fresh coat of wax and buffing is required frequently.

Why bother with this process when the lifespan of quality sealers exceeds 10+ years?  Save yourself time and money and reduce ongoing maintenance by properly sealing Saltillo tile flooring. Check out sealers like TerraNano Saltillo Tile Topcoat Sealer or Crest Sealer. 

YouTube video

Should You Strip Your Saltillo Tile Floor?

hopefully, it doesn’t come to this

Step 3 – Mop.

If you don’t have to strip or resurface your floor, move on to mopping!  That’s right… mop.  I like a string mop configuration when I tackle my floors.

I find that the string mop adequately gets into the grout joints.  Cleaning Saltillo tile with a string mop is easier because these floors traditionally have wide grout joints.  Most joints range from 1/2 – 1 inch.  Also, the string mop doesn’t deteriorate like a foam or sponge mop.

Next, determine your cleaning agent.  To preserve the life of the Saltillo tile sealer, choose a cleaner that is not harsh. For example, dilute any detergent to lessen the impact of harsh chemicals.  Personally, I like to use a water/vinegar mixture for my normal cleanings.

And since my floors have a durable Saltillo tile sealer coating, I use a bleach/water mixture a few times each year for deep cleaning & disinfecting.  With kids, dogs, and a front door open to many, my floors occasionally need a disinfectant overhaul.

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However, I don’t advise the strength of bleach to universally clean Saltillo tile.  That recommendation applies only to floors with a sealer like TerraNano Saltillo Tile Sealer that can withstand strong chemicals.  Even still, I dilute it with water.  Also, open some windows and turn on ceiling fans to boost ventilation. Learn more about our advice for Spanish tile projects.

how to clean saltillo tile flooring

Should You Apply Sealer or Strip Saltillo Tile?

only if it’s necessary

That’s it – just three simple steps to clean Saltillo tile flooring. Sometimes there are reasons to refinish, resurface, or strip these floors.  But give your floor some TLC for basic cleaning or an occasional facelift.

→ Need the big guns? Check out How to Strip Saltillo Tile (& why you should try to avoid it!)

Oh… one last thing. Inspect your sealer once in a while.  If you pour a little water onto the Saltillo tile and it absorbs (even if just a little), it’s time for a fresh coat of sealer.  Before applying that Saltillo tile sealer, follow these steps to scrub up the floor first!

Do you have any tips or tricks on how to clean Saltillo tile flooring?  Leave a comment below!

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