Clean & Disinfect Your Tile Countertops

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A close up of a tiled kitchen counter.

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Got tile? Yeah, me, too. Tiled kitchen counters are the bane of my existence. Well, no, mice are.

But, tile counters rank really high on my list of Things I’d Rather Live Without. But, they are also one of the most popular kitchen surfaces in Southern California. So, if you can’t live without them, learn how to get all that icky grout clean.

Most days, I wipe our counters with straight white vinegar in a bottle. Vinegar has disinfecting properties and comes really cheap by the gallon.

About once a month, I spray every nook and cranny very heavily with bleach. Not only does this bleach our white-turned-ick grout back to white, it also does a more thorough job of disinfecting. Spray enough to wet the surface, open the windows, and clear out.

Somehow, if you stick around, it will bleach your clothes. Ask me how I know this. I usually bleach right before an outing so that I know no one will be getting bleached besides the countertops.

How do you keep your countertops clean and germ free?

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  1. Best thing for white grout is a toilet cleaner with bleach in it. You just run the nozzle up and down along all the grout lines, let it sit a few minutes, then wipe it super-thoroughly (wearing your junky clothes). I can’t believe I didn’t discover it sooner.

  2. We don’t have tile countertops, but we do have a tan colored surface that stains easily. So far, the Magic Eraser has been able to tackle every stain, so I would have to say that’s my number one cleaner I use before wiping down the counter.

  3. Peroxide and baking soda mixed to a watery paste is an awesome cleaner for grout. I apply it with a toothbrush and leave it set for 3-5 minutes, then wash it off. I have a ton of tile in my home and this is truly magic…..

  4. I use peroxide mixed w/ water to clean and disinfect. If I’m out of that I use alcohol and water.Can’t stand the smell of clorox.

  5. We’ve been remodeling/adding on to our house for several years. I WANTED tile counters and floors…hmmm. Well the floor isn’t so bad, the counter, I agree is horrid. The grout we used is stained and the more bleach I use the more yellow it becomes (Mind you it’s supposed to be white). I’m going to recolor the grout as soon as possible and use a darker color that will match the floor’s grout and not stain. Then I will just continue to use thyme infused white vinegar to disinfect.

  6. I have black granite tile as well. I usually use a bit of dish soap on a wet sponge first to clean it, then I wipe it down with a paper towel to dry. That usually gets most of the streaks out. But once or twice a week I clean it with the granite spray cleaner to get it shiny again. The soap tends to make it a bit scummy after a while. Its gorgeous once its cleaned but it is a tedious process!

  7. I live in the South and (I don’t know if this is a regional thing or home age) most of the counter tops about the age of our 20-something home are laminate (like foremika-sp?). I use white vinegar (undiluted) on the counters and also on our ceramic tile floor.
    I have found that using this disenfects but the best thing is that my 4 yr old who always wants to help doesn’t spray it anywhere (& I’m not concerned she will taste it) b/c it STINKS ;-). We used to use 409 which worked great but i was concerned about the fumes- plus if she got it she’d spray it all over b/c it ” smelled good”. Now I don’t worry about that.
    I also clean fresh spots with baby wipes then at the end-of-day I use a couple of anti-bacterial wipes-all of which I get on sale. I keep the same routine-I wipe down the counters-then spots on cabinets-then I spot clean the tile floor. Every other day or so I spray with vinegar and use a Dry Swiffer to mop the floor. If I find dried stuff on the counters I spray that with Vinegar and let it sit a few minutes, then clean. Every few weeks I clean with Windex and a grout brush-which works WONDERS (after she goes to bed).
    If you have a tile floor and don’t have a grout brush-Get One, it’s MUCH easier than a toothbrush-Worth the investment! 🙂

  8. Actually, I prefer NOT to use bleach when possible. Because whatever cleaner you put on your counters when it dries does leave a residue behind. So, I use an antibacterial microfiber cloth from Norwex. It removes 99.94% of bacteria with WATER and then kills the bacteria that has been trapped in the cloth with the silver compound woven into the fabric. So safe, I let my children use it. Here’s a video of it removing chicken protein (bacteria) from a counter:
    And more info is on my web site:

    Dr. Laura
    (P.S. I have a Ph.D. in biomedical science, so I know more about bacteria than you want to know!)

    1. I knew I could count on someone with a science background to help us out! Thanks for the input, Laura. What happens when you wipe the bleached counter with water afterward?

  9. UGH!!! My counters are not my problem… it’s my kitchen floor! It seems like no matter what I do to it they NEVER look clean! 🙁 I’ve even scrubbed on my hands and knees with a cloth and bucket several times!!! I have laminate tile (I think it’s called) so there isn’t any actual grout, so it SHOULD be easy it seems! We also have tile floors in the master bath that DO have grout and are dark colored. This is good in some ways, because it hides stuff, but at the same time *I* want to know it’s clean! I usually resort to clorox clean up with bleach and a old toothbrush… fun times! :/ I think we’ll all forever struggle with this… until I am rich enough to hire a that maid! 😉

    1. Try a magic eraser in a small spot (to be sure that it won’t hurt the laminate). And I use gel toilet bowl cleaner with bleach on grout. Lay it down, let it sit for 5 mins, scrub a little, let it sit another 5 mins, then wipe away. Make sure the area is well ventilated!!

  10. I use bleach water as our daily cleaner and it doesn’t stain. I use it on every surface in our house, except mirrors and windows.

    The recipe is 1 1/2 tsp bleach to 22 oz of water (I just refill an old Cloroz Anywhere Hard Surfaces spray bottle). I can’t take credit for this however, I read it on a blog years ago.

  11. Emily – I second that! Granite is much harder to care for and keep “looking good” than I ever imagined! After 3 years and almost every cleaner around, I have found that my favorite cleaner is dish soap. When I am done doing the dishes, I just take the soapy rag and wipe down the counters, rinse the rag and repeat until the counters are no longer soapy. It takes a little time and effort, but I am able to let the counters air-dry with no streaks, and it makes me feel much better about my family eating off the counter – I know there are no chemicals that could be harmful to them.

  12. Any suggestions on a good daily cleaner for granite counter tops that also disinfects? Before when we had laminate I had no problem using disinfecting sprays, but with granite I have to disinfect, and then go back with a granite cleaner to get all the streaks out. I’m not so impressed with granite now that I am living with it!

  13. Wow they look good. I dont have tiled tops but bathroom tiles and grout that I can not get clean and bleech just runs down the walls leaving streaks
    but good for you