After we had ceramic tile installed at our house, the company said we should just clean with vinegar and water mixture. However, I haven't been able to find anywhere online that says that using Pine-Sol or other cleaning solutions (like Swiffer sprayer thing) damages the tile.

In fact, this is what the company says.

Recommended “To Do’s”

• Clean your new Flooring with a damp mop once a week or more, depending on the amount of traffic. Heavy traffic areas should be mopped more often than once a week.

• Use an all-purpose, non-oil based household or commercial cleaner. Ensure that the cleaner is compatible with the grout cleaner recommendations in the maintenance and protection section. You can also use a cleaning solution of one cup of white vinegar to two gallons of tap water.

• Cleaning spills off of Porcelain & Ceramic Flooring is generally easier than other types of flooring. The entire area should be cleaned and scrubbed with a cleansing solution using a cotton mop, cloth, sponge or non-metallic brush. The entire area should then be rinsed with clean water to remove any residue left on the Flooring from the cleaning solution.

• Sweep or vacuum your tile Empire Flooring prior to mopping to remove any dust or debris.

Recommended “Not To Do”

• Use a detergent or soap because it may dull the surface and potentially promote the growth of mildew.

Other Care Instructions

• Routine cleaners used on your Porcelain & Ceramic Flooring should never contain acids or ammonia because they can discolor the grout and/or damage the grout and the glazed surface of the Flooring.

• You should allow your new Ceramic Flooring and grout to set and dry for at least 72 hours after installation before damp mopping it.

Of course, the cleaning agents claim they're safe on wood and tile (we have both), but at the same time I don't want to damage the new tile. Anyone with tile experience actually know if the claim that using anything but vinegar and water is bogus?

Update: Fixed question and title to better reflect original intent of the question.

  • 1
    I use a Steam mop like These, works great and no lingering vinegar smell.
    – Tester101
    Aug 26, 2011 at 12:17
  • 2
    Funny how they say 'use vinegar' and then say 'do not use acid'. Last time I checked, vinegar was still an acid (A)
    – user14703
    Aug 24, 2013 at 15:09

3 Answers 3


In the to-do section of the care instructions you posted, it suggests "Use an all-purpose, non-oil based household or commercial cleaner." OR, it says, you can use vinegar/water.

I think you are over-analyzing. The normal floor mopping solutions like Pine-Sol or a Swiffer will work fine. Just don't use anything abrasive that will scratch the tile or an aggressive bathroom "tile/grout cleaner" that is meant to bleach and renew grout that is stained.

If you're concerned about a particular cleaner, you could always test a small section that is out of sight. You can also apply a "grout sealer" solution over the grout lines. This is tedious, but can help slow down staining of the grout.

  • Yeah, apparently essential oils aren't considered oils. I think, having used other cleaners before on the tile, the only thing is that the grout changes color a bit. As long as the tile and grout are not actually damaged or badly stained, it's fine. My biggest concern was the line "[Do not] use a detergent or soap because it may dull the surface and potentially promote the growth of mildew." I'm assuming pine-sol and similar floor cleaners are not considered that?
    – Jerr
    Sep 1, 2011 at 4:21
  • The installers directions are kind of vague and contradictory, to the point where I wouldn't get hung up on them. For example they say not to use any cleaner containing acid, and yet vinegar contains acetic acid. Whatever cleaner you choose, it only takes a tiny amount- probably less than is what is on the label. You want to minimize any residue left behind after mopping because it will continue to attract dirt. It is the dirt that will scratch up the tile over time when you walk on it. The cleaner itself is not going to scratch the ceramic, unless it contains an abrasive.
    – JayL
    Sep 1, 2011 at 5:56
  • The last thing you want to use is Pine-Sol. It will attract dirt like a magnet. You should use a neutral floor cleaner which can be purchased at Home Depot.
    – user17033
    Nov 9, 2013 at 17:34
  • 1
    Actual Pine-Sol contains 10% pine oil, which has a boiling point of 195°C, so if it does get absorbed into grout, the liquid is going to be there a long time. That could cause problems as you describe. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine-Sol en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_oil Nov 9, 2013 at 18:23

It is actually a very effective cleaner for tile. Ceramic tile is generally not porous, and porous natural stone tile is the only time you should be careful with vinegar. I have installed and maintained ceramic tile for 10 years, and I have never had a issue with the vinegar/water cleaning solution. Most tile cleaners are great if you have run of the mill white shower tile, but that is because they bleach out stains. That is a bad thing for colored grout, and most installations of tile these days receive colored grout. Stick with the vinegar/water cleaning solution. If you want to help with the vinegar smell of it, just add a couple drops of Almond extract to the gallon of homemade cleaner. It won't discolor it, and the smell won't remind you of hot wings. :)

  • Sorry, the question was edited in a way that changed the meaning of my question, I have since updated to better reflect my original intent. I understand vinegar can be a good cleaner, but my question was wondering about other cleaners (like Pine Sol, Swiffer WetJet®, etc.) and if they actually do any damage to tile or grout (we have like beige colored tiled and grout).
    – Jerr
    Aug 30, 2011 at 5:16

I saw where you could use vinegar and water with a few drops of lemon juice and a few drops of dish detergent. I don't know if the Pine Sol would be considered oily or not but I do love to clean with white vinegar.

We cleaned our grout with white vinegar and baking soda, a toothbrush and a bucket of water. It looked amazing! We then bought sealant from Lowe's and resealed the grout. It looks beautiful! I'm so happy with the results. I hope this was helpful for you. Happy cleaning!

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