Terracotta tiles have been used for flooring for the past several millennia. Ever since humans discovered that clay could be formed into shapes, baked in the sun or in kilns (once those were invented), mankind has enjoyed the beauty and durability of terracotta floors.
With the myriad of terracotta floor cleaning products, it makes one wonder what the ancient Romans and other civilizations did to clean their floors without all the newfangled chemicals on the market today. If you believe many of the so-called professionals, you have to use special cleaners that coincidentally cost an arm and a leg in order to keep this type of floor clean enough to be deemed acceptable to modern standards.
Expensive Does not Mean Better
Common sense dictates that in actuality, terracotta floor cleaning is an easy endeavor. How else could this ancient method of covering a floor have maintained its popularity? Yet Madison Avenue, through television, radio, magazine articles, and every other sort of advertising, including, of course, the Internet, successfully convinces the average homeowner who has installed terracotta flooring must protect their floor with pricey cleansers containing environmentally questionable ingredients.
One Internet-advertised terracotta floor cleaning product sells for $14.99 for a 32-ounce bottle. The advertisement comes right out and tells you the container will make 16 gallons of cleaner when mixed with water. Granted, it is a concentrate, but still. How many gallons of cleaner mixed with water does one use when cleaning a floor? Most of us use at least two. So this translates into spending almost $15 for seven or eight uses.
The label on this bottle of cleaner states that no rinsing is needed. So where does the dirt go if the floor is not rinsed after cleaning with this product? It does not take an Einsteins intellect to realize the dirt stays on the floor! So what do you get other than a temporary good smell? This same Web site also offers special cloths made of microfiber for cleaning countertops made of terracotta. Again, what did we all do before microfiber was invented?
Seal It First!
Terracotta is an unglazed quarry tile with varying degrees of porosity. Since Mexican terracotta tiles are baked in the sun instead of in a kiln, they are generally more porous than terracotta that is manufactured in other areas of the world. The first thing to do when buying terracotta tile, no matter where it comes from, is to seal it. You can buy sealant for unglazed tile at any home improvement or hardware store. After sealing, most of your worries concerning dirt are solved.
The Simple, Inexpensive Truth
A once-a-week washing with a gentle soap and plain water will keep your floor clean enough even for company for the most part. Sometimes, however, you may want to do more thorough cleaning. For these times, simply change your routine by using a synthetic, soapless detergent to your water and apply with a damp mop.
Dry it with a sponge after rinsing and then apply a water-based wax. For stubborn stains, make a paste out of something like Barkeepers Friend, Ajax, or Comet and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrub the area with a stiff-bristled brush, then rinse.