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Is It Okay to Vacuum Tile Floors?

Is It Okay to Vacuum Tile Floors?

Vacuuming your tile floors when cleaning the home is a common practice, but not many people know whether it’s bad for the floors or not. We all do it to avoid having to grab the broom when doing household chores, and now, you can be sure that it doesn’t just save you time but is also a great method of cleaning for more than just the carpet.

Is it okay to vacuum the tile floors? You can vacuum tile floors, but different vacuum models are gentler on tile than others, some will not clean tile floors efficiently, and others may cause damage to the tile’s surface.

There are many different types of tile, each warranting a different method of cleaning. Further, there are several types of vacuums suited to particular tiles. Here, you’ll get a few pointers on how to know what type of vacuum is appropriate for cleaning your tile floors.

The Best Vacuums for Cleaning Tile Floors

Vacuums Guide notes that the mechanism of most concern in vacuuming tile floors is, of course, the rotating brush. Specifically, glazed tiles are more vulnerable to damage by motorized brushes, as the glaze/sealant can be scratched or removed by the coarse bristles.

Un-glazed tiles, on the other hand, are more scratch-resistant than glazed tiles, and because they tend to have more crevices due to their rougher surface, they may even require a more powerful brush than carpet.

The top five vacuums for cleaning tiles and/or hardwood floors are

  1. Bissell Hard Floor Expert® Bagless Canister Vacuum
  2. VonHaus 2-in-1 Upright Stick & Handheld Vacuum
  3. Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2 Upright Vacuum Cleaner
  4. Shark ION F80 Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum with MultiFLEX
  5. Bissel Symphony Pet Steam Mop and Steam Vacuum Cleaner

Upright vacuums – the most popular household vacuum which is designed to be pushed in front of the user – tend not to be the best model for cleaning tile floors, as they depend on the usage of a motorized brush to remove dirt and debris. These brushes are the main culprit of what causes damage to tile surfaces.

Although some upright vacuums are fitted with options to either remove or alter the motorized brush to avoid potential damage, it is typically suggested to opt for a stick or canister vacuum when cleaning bare, hard floors.

Alternatives to Upright Vacuums for Tile Floors

Thankfully, there are many high quality alternatives to upright vacuums that will clean all the floors in your home– carpeted, tiled, or hardwood.

Canister Vacuums

Canister vacuums are recommended as the best vacuum type for cleaning bare floors. A canister vacuum is different from a standard upright vacuum in that the functional cleaning/suction component is located at the very end of a long wand, which is connected to the canister by a hose.

The canister then contains the vacuum engine, the filter, and the bag. This part remains on the ground and is equipped with wheels for ease of portability. 

These vacuums are ideal because they are, on average, more powerful than standard upright vacuums, better and faster at cleaning, easily maneuverable, quieter, and more adaptable given the variety of possible tool attachments.

The absence of a high-speed, motorized brush also leaves the canister vacuum less likely to cause damage to tile surfaces.

Stick Vacuums

When comparing the two alternatives to upright vacuums, stick vacuums are certainly the less powerful of the two. This is because stick vacuums are primarily cordless, and so have less of a power reserve than upright or canister vacuums.

However, it is that same characteristic that makes them better for tile floors than their upright counterparts. Less power means less force in the motorized brush, and a gentler clean.

Stick vacuums are also more lightweight, have better maneuverability, and are (generally) cheaper than upright vacuums.

Lastly, some models of stick vacuums are commended for their excellent suction power, which is ideal for cleaning tile floors without the need for a harsh brush. These models, however, tend to fall on the pricey side.

Types of Tile Materials

There are a handful of materials that are commonly used to create tile floors:

  • Ceramic: composed of clay, this is a highly common material to find in household tile floors.
    • Non-porcelain vs. Porcelain: most often ceramic tiles are non-porcelain. It’s the most budget-friendly, and easiest to manipulate. On the other hand, porcelain ceramic tile is more durable and stain-resistant.
  • Stone: instead of being ground and melted down together, stone tiles are cut and shaped instead. These can be made from the following:
    • Granite: this is the strongest material, and most resistant to damage, such as cracking and scratches.
    • Marble: weaker than granite tile, in that it is a quite porous material. This also makes it more prone to staining, as it more readily absorbs liquid than granite.
    • Travertine: this is also a porous material and is softer than the previous two. Tiles composed of this material are more likely to become scratched and damaged.
    • Slate: the strength of this material is comparable to that of granite. The color is typically very dark, which also helps in resistance to staining and aesthetic damages.

Non-porcelain and porcelain ceramic, marble, and travertine tiles will benefit most from canister vacuums, as they have the suction power, versatility in tool attachments, and maneuverability for use on tile floors, without the need for harsh brushes. Since these are the tile materials most vulnerable to aesthetic damage, it would be ideal to avoid any vacuum which uses a brush.

Also, some canister vacuums are made with rubber wheels for additional security against scratching tile surfaces.

Granite and slate would be the most resistant to any potential damage that can be caused by the brush of even a stick vacuum. Keep in mind that the use of a stick vacuum is comparable to a gentler upright vacuum, and so may compromise suction power.

Why Use a Vacuum to Clean Tile Floors

Many people wonder about the benefits of vacuuming a tile floor over sweeping: vacuuming can save you time and improve the thoroughness and accuracy of house cleaning.

When using the appropriate models, vacuuming can be a lot more thorough than sweeping. With the strong suction power and high-speed rotating brushes, a vacuum is capable of accomplishing a lot more than simply moving the dirt and debris back and forth across the floor.

The vacuum’s suction pulls the debris out of any cracks or crevices that a broom can’t reach. A vacuum also stores all collected debris inside of its bag, thereby avoiding the spreading of debris by simply wafting it back and forth with a broom.

Best Vacuum Expert offers the following tips and tricks to ensure a speedy clean-up session, specifically for those using vacuums on tiles or other hard floors:

  1. Check that you are using the appropriate vacuum for your floor. Not only will the wrong type cause damage, but it will also slow you down.
  2. Either purchase a vacuum with a long cord or plan ahead on which outlets you’ll use to plug up your vacuum. There is nothing more time-consuming and frustrating than frantically searching for an outlet in the last room you have to clean.
  3. Clear obstacles ahead of time. Don’t waste time in the middle of cleaning to pick up toys, socks, etc.! Pick up the floor before even turning on the vacuum, so you can get it all done in one go.
  4. Vacuum the border of the room first and take as long of strokes as possible. This will prevent the time wasted in overlapping sections you’ve already covered. (It’s recommended to vacuum in straight lines or in concentric circles to avoid overlapping. It may save you up to 60% cleaning time!)

So, save yourself some time and trouble and use a vacuum that won’t scratch your tile floors to help you keep your own dirt and dust free!