If you have Saltillo tiles, you must take great care in cleaning them, since they have a very soft and porous surface. Saltillo tiles are manufactured in Saltillo, Mexico, which are made from a mixture of sun-dried clay and water. They commonly have an added sealer making them more challenging to clean. It is possible to clean the tiles yourself with the right procedure to avoid damage. Follow these steps to clean Saltillo tiles.

Prepare to Clean the Tiles

To clean Saltillo tiles, gather:

  • rubber gloves
  • soft cloths
  • soft-bristled brush
  • broom dust pan
  • mop
  • sponge mop
  • buckets
  • white vinegar 
  • alkaline product
  • floor sealer (optional)

Sweep the tiles to remove dust and debris, and empty the dust pan. You may vacuum the floor to get into the grout, but use a vacuum with a hose attachment. Don't vacuum the tiles too often to make them last longer.

Determine if the floor has been sealed by inspecting the grout. The sealer will appear glossy on the tile grout or bead when it is wet.

Clean Sealed Saltillo Tile

Cleaning sealed floors means you are only cleaning the sealer. It isn't necessary to remove the sealer for a quick cleaning, but it helps to remove the sealer annually or biannually to deep clean tiles.

Mix the alkaline cleaner according to directions, and apply it to the floor. Let the cleaner stand fifteen minutes to break up the dirt, and scrub the floor with the brush. Fill a bucket with hot water, dip a mop in the bucket, and rinse the floor, using a wet/dry vacuum, if needed.

To remove sealant that has become very dirty, apply the correct floor stripper. Floor sealers may be water-based or polyurethane. Use water-based sealers on floors with a water-based sealer, and apply a paint stripper to remove polyurethane sealers.

Clean Unsealed Saltillo Tile

Mix a gallon of warm water and one-half cup of vinegar in a bucket. and fill another bucket with clean, warm water. Vinegar is also ideal to use if you don't know whether the floor has a sealer, since the vinegar won't strip it. 

Dampen the mop, and avoid getting it too wet. Wring excess liquid, and begin mopping at one corner of the floor, wringing the mop in the rinse water as needed.  

Mop in small sections, and change the bucket of .rinse water when it gets too dirty. Refill a bucket with clear, warm water, and mop the floor to rinse the solution. Use the sponge mop to reapply sealer, and let it dry. Contact a professional for more tile cleaning help.