How to Clean Saltillo Tile Naturally


Named for the Mexican town from which it originates, Saltillo tile appears in Spanish and Mediterranean-style buildings throughout the southwestern United States. Known for its distinctive reddish-brown coloration, Saltillo tile lends a beautiful, rustic feel to interiors and exteriors, making them a popular choice for home decor. Cleaning Saltillo tile poses many challenges since it is fragile, and many commercially prepared cleaning solutions prove too harsh for it. Luckily, cleaning Saltillo tile with homemade, naturally derived cleansers is relatively easy, however it requires a significant investment of time to complete.

Things You'll Need

  • White vinegar
  • Soft cleaning cloth
  • Broom
  • Vacuum (optional)
  • Sponge
  • Bucket
  • Lemon
  • Essential oil (optional)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Spray bottle
  • Sponge mop (optional)
  • Sheepskin pad
  • Sweep the Saltillo tile thoroughly to remove any large particles of dirt and debris. This helps prevent scratches during the wet cleansing process. A vacuum can be used for this task although a heavy vacuum cleaner can easily scratch or mar Saltillo tile.

  • Prepare the cleaning solution. Combine in a bucket one part white vinegar with one part hot water and add the juice of one lemon. Mix thoroughly and let it sit for 15 minutes. Essential oil can also be added at this point to help disguise the smell of the vinegar.

  • Wear rubber gloves. Dip a sponge into the cleaning solution and wring it thoroughly. If the sponge is saturated, the excess liquid can damage the Saltillo tile.

  • Lightly rub the tile with the sponge using small circular motions. Pay special attention to the grout, scrubbing with slightly lighter pressure than to the tile itself. This process can also be completed with a sponge mop, although scrubbing Saltillo tile by hand ensures a more thorough job.

  • Fill a spray bottle with warm water and lightly mist the scrubbed tile, taking care not to saturate it. Rinsing the tile removes excess acidity from the tile and grout, ensuring that minimal damage will occur.

  • Buff the tile lightly with a soft cleaning cloth until it's dry and lustrous. The smell of vinegar will dissipate completely once the tile dries.

Tips & Warnings

  • Buff Saltillo tile with a soft cloth or sheepskin pad between wet cleanings.
  • Add essential oil to your cleaning mixture to improve the odor, if desired.
  • Do not use boiling water on Saltillo tile, as this may cause it to crack.
  • Avoid letting water sit on Saltillo tile since this weakens them.
  • Avoid putting undiluted vinegar on Saltillo tile, particularly the grout since this can permanently damage them.

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  • "Clean House Clean Planet"; Karen Logan; 1997
  • "The Naturally Clean Home: 150 Super-Easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning"; Karyn Siegel-Maier; 2008
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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