Floor-covering trends come and go, but according to ISSA's Value of Cleaning white paper, ceramic flooring is becoming more and more popular in the United States. There are several good reasons behind this trend. Ceramic tile is:
• Relatively inexpensive
• Highly durable
• Made from clay and sand, which are very sustainable materials
• Available in a variety of glazes, colors, and designs
• Relatively easy to clean and maintain.

"However, over time, soiling, stains and grime can collect and become trapped in the pores and grout lines of ceramic tile," says Eric Hickman, a cleaning expert and product manager for Powr-Flite. "If neglected, these floors can then develop a soiled appearance and bacteria and mold can even develop. To avoid this, proper care and cleaning is imperative to maintain ceramic tile's appearance."

It is recommended that cleaning professionals follow the following tips when caring for ceramic floors:
• Clean daily. It is often best to vacuum ceramic tiling using a backpack vacuum cleaner instead of sweeping; this is more effective and helps protect indoor air quality.
• When mopping, use a clean mop and bucket and a mild, all-purpose cleaner.
• When heavily soiled, these floors may need to be machine scrubbed.
• Use a wet/dry vacuum to extract solution and soils from flooring after scrubbing; this helps to prevent them from resettling on the floor.

"The big problem with ceramic tile is usually the grout areas," adds Hickman. "[Try to] avoid cleaning grout by hand; it's time consuming, exhausting, and because of the chemical fumes, not that healthy."

Instead, use a cylindrical brush floor machine. Hickman comments that the brushes make the machines more effective at removing soils that can become embedded in a floor's pores or grout.

His final suggestion: "If at all possible, avoid applying a sealant or finish to ceramic tiles. It is usually unnecessary and can just increase the time, labor and costs of maintaining the floor."