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Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Terracotta Floors: Tips and Techniques

Cleaning Advice / February 21, 2024


Terracotta floors add a rustic, earthy feel to any home. However, their porous nature makes them prone to staining and discolouration over time with regular use. Maintaining the look of new terracotta floors can seem daunting, but with the right cleaning techniques and products, it’s easy to keep them looking their best. This ultimate guide covers everything you need to know about cleaning and caring for terracotta tile floors.

Assess the Floor’s Condition

The first step is to assess the current condition of your terracotta floors. Check for any cracked, chipped or missing tiles that may need replacing. Also look for signs of permanent staining or damage that cleaning alone cannot fix. It’s good practice to do a thorough deep clean of the floors first before deciding if any tiles need replacing.

Sweep and Vacuum

Before washing the floors, do a thorough sweep and vacuum to remove any loose dirt or debris. Use a soft brush attachment and go over the grout lines carefully. This prevents the debris from scratching the tiles during the washing process. For textured terracotta tiles, use a soft brush to gently lift out any embedded dirt.

Wash with pH Neutral Cleaner

Always use a specially formulated pH neutral terracotta cleaner. The tiles’ porous nature makes them prone to absorbing alkaline or acidic cleaners, resulting in discolouration over time. A pH neutral cleaner will dissolve dirt and stains without damaging the tiles.

Mix the cleaner according to label directions in warm water and use a sponge mop to wash the floors. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before scrubbing to allow the cleaner to break down the grime. Focus on high traffic areas and grout lines. For stubborn spots, use a soft bristle brush and scrub gently.

Rinse and Dry Thoroughly

It’s crucial to rinse the floors multiple times with clean water to remove all cleaner residue. Any leftover residue will affect the terracotta’s absorption rate and lead to impaired sealing later. Use a wet/dry vacuum to suck up excess water and speed up drying time. Allow the floors to dry completely before sealing or walking on them.

Seal Regularly

Applying a penetrating terracotta sealer every 6-12 months is key for preventing stains and damage. The sealer fills the tile’s pores, preventing liquid absorption while still allowing vapour transmission. This stops spills from permanently staining the clay material while letting moisture escape to avoid damage from dampness underneath.

Choose a water-based sealer specifically made for terracotta and apply per the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically 2-3 thin coats are needed for adequate protection and coverage. Resealing yearly will maintain the protective barrier as the old sealer wears off.

Special Cleaning Tips

  • For stained tiles, use a poultice paste or gel cleaner before sealing to draw out deep-set stains from below the surface.
  • For mould or mildew, mix oxygen bleach powder with warm water and scrub to remove before sealing. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Sweep regularly and use mats at entryways to minimize dirt and debris that can scratch tiles.
  • Test cleaners on an inconspicuous spot first to check for any discolouration or damage.
  • Don’t use vinegar, ammonia, or acidic cleaners which can etch terracotta over time.
  • Avoid abrasive scouring pads, powders or anything that can scratch the tile surface.
  • For textured tiles, use a soft tile brush to lift out dirt from crevices before washing.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Some common cleaning mistakes can lead to permanent damage on terracotta floors:

  • Neglecting to seal tiles or allowing the sealant to wear off before reapplying. This leaves them unprotected from stains.
  • Using the wrong cleaners like vinegar, bleach, ammonia or acidic products. Always use a specially formulated terracotta cleaner.
  • Allowing spills or stains to sit without promptly cleaning. The longer a stain seeps in, the harder it is to remove.
  • Insufficient rinsing after washing floors. Left over cleaner residue affects sealer application.
  • Using excessive water to clean. Too much water penetrates and discolours the clay material.
  • Walking on floors with dirty shoes. The abrasive dirt scratches the tile surface.

With the right maintenance and cleaning techniques, terracotta floors can stay looking like new for years. Be sure to assess condition regularly, clean gently but thoroughly with the right products, and reseal tiles consistently. Avoid common mistakes like neglecting to seal, using wrong cleaners or letting stains set. Follow these terracotta floor care tips and you’ll be able to enjoy their beauty and rustic charm.


How often should terracotta floors be sealed?

It’s recommended to reapply sealer every 6-12 months depending on wear. High traffic areas may need sealing more frequently.

Can you use steam mops on terracotta?

No, steam mops are too wet and hot for porous terracotta. The steam penetrates deep into the clay and can cause cracking or discolouration over time.

What’s the best way to clean terracotta grout lines?

Use a soft bristled grout brush and pH neutral cleaner to gently scrub the grout. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry fully before sealing.

Are terracotta tiles suitable for kitchens and bathrooms?

Yes, when properly sealed and maintained. Use coasters, bath mats and promptly clean spills to protect them in high moisture areas. Reseal more frequently in these busy spaces.


With their one-of-a-kind rustic beauty, terracotta floors add unique character to any home. Protecting their appearance requires some special care and cleaning techniques. But by following these expert tips, you can easily maintain stunning terracotta floors for years of enjoyment. Regular sealing, gentle cleaning methods and prompt stain removal will keep them looking pristine. Contact Eco Cleaning Brisbane for professional terracotta floor cleaning services using safe, eco-friendly methods. Their experienced cleaners can restore the natural beauty of your floors.

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