How to Clean Saltillo Tile: A Guide for Cleaning, Sealing, and Maintenance

Mexican Saltillo pavers are natural stone tiles handmade in Mexico from clay. Similar to terracotta tile, Saltillo tiles are rustic by design and beloved for their beauty and character. Their charm comes from the uniqueness of each tile, which often varies in size, color, and texture.

Saltillo is an extremely popular option for flooring in Mexico and throughout the southwestern United States. While Saltillo is more porous than other types of tile and flooring options, general maintenance and cleaning for both the tile surface and grout are fairly straightforward. After all, this type of tile is often coveted for its low maintenance.

That said, this material's somewhat delicate nature does require a touch of extra cleaning care — but, nothing a professional can’t easily handle.

Here, we’ll explain how to properly care for a Mexican Saltillo tile floor – from scrubbing to grout cleaning to sealing — for a professional and presentable shine.

Directions for Cleaning and Scrubbing a Saltillo Tile Floor and Grout

Before beginning to clean the tile, always sweep and vacuum first to remove any solid debris. This is to ensure that when it comes time to mop and scrub, dirt won’t scratch the surface of the Saltillo tile or ruin the polish.

Gently clean the tile:

  • Using a mop, apply Unitex® Daily Clean diluted at 2 oz per gallon of water to the flooring and allow it to dry completely.

Scrub the tile:

Clean the grout:

  1. Using an electric or pump-up sprayer, apply Unitex® Surface Renew® Grout Brightener diluted at 16 oz per gallon of water.
  2. Allow 5-10 minutes of dwell time, depending on soil conditions.
  3. Then, pressure-clean the surface using hot, clean water. If using a truck mount, run the machine at 800-1,000 PSI. A portable carpet extractor that can produce at least 1,000 PSI can also be used. If neither option is available, use a 175 RPM floor machine with a grit brush.

Sealing Saltillo Tile

Unsealed Saltillo Mexican tile is very porous and susceptible to staining and surface wear. When professionally sealed, it not only helps mitigate everyday wear and tear but also makes regular cleaning and maintenance that much easier. We recommend sealing Saltillo tile and staying on top of regular cleaning to ensure that the floor has a long-lasting and lustrous lifespan.

The sealer you use will depend on whether the Saltillo floor tile in question is indoors or outside. Use a penetrating sealer approved for use on porous resilient tile floors. If Saltillo tiles are located outside, be sure your Saltillo tile sealer of choice is rated for exterior use and includes UV protection.

When you’re ready to seal or reseal the Saltillo tile flooring, follow these directions:

  1. Pour a small amount of sealer (the size of a small dinner plate) directly onto the floor.
  2. Using a microfiber mop, spread the sealer in a figure-8 motion around the floor.
  3. Allow the coat of sealer to dry completely before applying another coat. In general, 4 coats are recommended at a minimum with no more than 7 for a high-quality shine.

Tip: Divide the floor into 10-foot by 10-foot sections and complete one space at a time. Trying to seal the whole floor in one go may lead to an uneven application of sealer.

Saltillo Tile Restoration

Severely damaged Saltillo tiles can often be hammered out and replaced as needed. However, small chips and cracks may not always be worth a full replacement. In fact, many who have Saltillo flooring believe that some minor wear and tear accentuates the rustic look and feel of the material and choose to leave it.

If restoration is preferred over replacement, using a high-gloss sealer can be effective at filling minor chips and cracks.

Tips for Better Results When Cleaning and Maintaining Saltillo Tile

While cleaning Saltillo tile may be fairly cut and dry, there are some tips and tricks that can help produce better results:

  • Use as little water as possible. Using water to clean Saltillo is necessary. However, the less you use, the better. Additionally, it’s important to dry the tiles promptly after cleaning to minimize the amount of water that’s allowed to soak through.

  • Clean spills quickly. Cleaning spills as soon as they’re noticed or right after they happen can help to minimize the risk of staining. Saltillo is porous, so the longer a liquid sits on the surface, the more it will absorb — especially if the tiles are due for a reseal or haven’t been sealed at all.

  • Clean Saltillo tile regularly. Like any hard floor surface in a home or business, tile floors need to be cleaned on a regular schedule to prevent damage and slip-and-fall accidents, and maintain an attractive appearance. Indoor floors should be broomed daily, with deeper cleaning performed based on foot traffic and soiling.

  • Don't be afraid to get down on your hands and knees. Give hard-to-reach spots some extra elbow grease. If your hard surface tool can't reach every nook and cranny, you may need to scrub some areas manually with a hard-bristled brush. This could include areas behind heavy furniture, columns, or under railings. Grout lines should be scrubbed with a grout brush for best results.

Proper maintenance of Saltillo tile can reduce the chances of having to prematurely reseal the floors. With proper care, most Saltillo floors should only need to be resealed once a year.

Best Products for Cleaning Saltillo Tile and Grout

To keep Saltillo tile floors looking their best for years to come, try these Jon-Don recommended cleaners and grout brighteners for a long-lasting shine:

Jon-Don has all the professional floor cleaning equipment you need to disinfect every type of floor covering you can imagine. And, we’ve got the cleaners and degreasers that do most of the arm-work for you.

Hard Floor Care Training for Professional Cleaners

Interested in learning how to care for all types of hard flooring? Sign up for one of our hard floor care seminars led by industry experts. From VCT to LVT, epoxy to rubber, find out how to properly clean, maintain, and restore all types of hard floors found in homes and businesses. Check out our course page for more information about hard floor care training available near you.

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