How to Clean Backsplash

A kitchen backsplash serves both decorative and functional purposes. Located on the wall behind a countertop, sink or stove, it protects the walls from spills, splatters and stains while adding visual interest to the space. Over time, a backsplash inevitably collects dirt, grease and grime that requires regular cleaning. With the right techniques and cleaning solutions, you can keep your backsplash looking like new. This comprehensive guide will provide tips for cleaning all types of backsplash materials.

What is a Backsplash?

A backsplash is a vertical surface made of tile, metal, glass, stone or other materials installed on the wall behind a kitchen countertop, sink or range. Its purpose is twofold:

  • Protect the walls – The backsplash takes the brunt of water, oil, food debris and other messes that occur during food prep and cleanup. This saves the drywall or paint behind it from damage.
  • Provide decorative flair – Backsplashes come in a wide array of colors, textures, materials and designs. This allows you to add visual interest and tie together the style of the kitchen.

Backsplashes are typically 4 to 6 inches tall but may run from the countertop to the ceiling for a full backsplash. They are also commonly used behind bathroom vanities and can be installed anywhere a wall needs shielding.

Benefits of a Clean Backsplash

Wiping down the backsplash should be part of your regular kitchen cleaning regimen. Allowing soil, grease and spills to build up can lead to:

  • Bacteria and germs – Food particles and water create an ideal environment for bacterial growth. This can lead to unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
  • Difficult stains – The longer spills sit on the backsplash, the more likely they are to stain. Dried-on messes become harder to remove.
  • Dull, dirty appearance – Grease, dirt and mineral deposits from water will make natural stone, metal and glass backsplash materials look dingy.

By regularly cleaning and disinfecting your backsplash, you’ll reap these benefits:

  • Eliminate odors and bacteria
  • Prevent stubborn stains
  • Keep backsplash materials looking like new
  • Showcase the beauty of backsplash tile or other material
  • Present a clean, fresh kitchen appearance

Supplies Needed to Clean a Backsplash

Gather these recommended supplies before tackling a backsplash cleaning session:

  • Clean cloths or sponges
  • Bucket of warm water
  • All-purpose cleaner or dish soap
  • Disinfecting cleaner or bleach solution
  • Scrub brush or Magic Eraser
  • Grout brush (if needed)
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Rubbing alcohol (for glass backsplash)
  • Protective gloves

Optional cleaners for stubborn soils:

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Ammonia
  • Bar Keepers Friend
  • Lime scale remover
  • Tile and grout cleaner

Avoid abrasive scouring pads or powders which can scratch delicate surfaces.

How to Clean Tile Backsplash

Ceramic and stone tile are two of the most popular backsplash options due to their durability, easy maintenance and design choices. Follow this method for cleaning tile backsplashes:

1. Dust and Dry Wipe

Start by using a microfiber cloth to dust the backsplash. This removes any loose dirt or debris. Pay special attention to the grout lines where grease and grime often accumulate.

Next, wipe down the entire surface with a clean, dry cloth. This prepares the backsplash for wet cleaning.

2. Wash With All-Purpose Cleaner

Mix a few drops of dish soap or an all-purpose cleaner like Mr. Clean into warm water. Using a sponge or cloth, wash the tile and grout with the cleaning solution. Work in small sections, rinsing frequently.

Scrub gently to avoid damaging the grout. Target particularly dirty areas and let the cleaning solution sit for a few minutes before scrubbing.

3. Scrub With Baking Soda

For more stubborn stains or grease, make a paste of baking soda and water. Using a scrub brush, work the paste into the soiled areas and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing. The baking soda will help lift dried-on messes without damaging the tile or grout.

4. Disinfect and Rinse

Mix 1/2 cup bleach into 1 gallon of water for a disinfecting solution. Wipe this over the entire surface and leave on for 5-10 minutes. This will kill bacteria and sanitize the backsplash.

Rinse thoroughly with clean water and dry with a fresh cloth. Avoid bleach solutions on natural stone tile which can react with acids. Use an all-purpose disinfecting cleaner instead.

5. Spot Clean Grout

Use a special grout brush dipped in the cleaning solution to scrub dirty grout lines. Work in small sections for best results. For really dirty grout, use a grout pen or whitening product to brighten it up.

Be sure to rinse and dry the grout thoroughly after cleaning. You may need to go over it a few times to fully remove built-up gunk and stains.

6. Remove Hard Water Stains

Hard water deposits and soap scum can leave limescale or mineral-based stains on the backsplash. Make a paste of equal parts white vinegar and baking soda and apply to problem spots.

Let the paste sit for 30 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing away. For tougher hard water stains, use a limescale remover designed for tile and grout.

7. Polish and Seal Grout

Once the grout lines are clean, apply a grout sealer according to product instructions. This will help protect the grout and make it easier to keep clean.

You can also polish the grout with coconut oil or olive oil to make it look brand new. Just rub a small amount into the grout lines and wipe away excess.

Following these tile backsplash cleaning steps will keep it looking fresh and vibrant. Set a reminder to deep clean the tile and grout every month or so.

How to Clean Glass Backsplash

Glass backsplashes make a gorgeous, modern statement in the kitchen. However, they do require some special care when cleaning. Here’s how to make a glass backsplash shine:

1. Rinse and Dry Wipe

Rinse the backsplash with clean water to wet the surface and loosen any dirt or debris. Wipe dry with a soft, lint-free cloth. Inspect for any soap scum or hard water deposits which may need extra attention.

2. Clean With Glass Cleaner

Spray a glass cleaner like Windex directly onto the backsplash. Use a damp microfiber cloth to gently wipe the surface. Avoid abrasive scrubbing which could scratch the glass.

Rinse any cleaner residue with fresh water and dry thoroughly with a lint-free cloth to prevent streaks.

3. Remove Hard Water Stains

For limescale or soap scum stains, spray full-strength white vinegar onto the area. Let sit for 5 minutes before wiping away. You can also use a limescale remover made for glass.

Avoid harsh abrasives which can damage glass. Use a plastic scraper only if needed.

4. Disinfect Surface

To kill bacteria and disinfect, wipe down the backsplash with rubbing alcohol or an all-purpose cleaner. Glass backsplashes don’t absorb germs, but this keeps them sanitary.

Rinse completely and wipe dry when finished. Don’t let cleaning products sit on glass too long.

5. Polish With Vinegar

For polished, streak-free glass, wipe the backsplash with equal parts vinegar and water. Use a microfiber cloth to buff dry. The vinegar helps clean while adding shine.

6. Address Etching

If you notice etched marks or corrosion on glass tile, buff the spots gently with baking soda. For severe etching, you may need a specialty glass polish compound. Avoid harsh chemicals which can further damage the glass.

With proper care, a glass backsplash will maintain its transparent beauty for years. Avoid abrasive pads and cleaners which can scratch. Disinfect and polish regularly for best results.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Backsplash

Stainless steel is valued for its modern style, durability and easy maintenance. Keep reading for tips on cleaning a stainless steel backsplash:

1. Rinse and Dry Wipe

Rinse the backsplash with clean water to remove dust and loosen debris. Wipe dry with a microfiber cloth to prevent water spots. Inspect for any stubborn deposits or stains.

2. Clean With Dish Soap

Add a few drops of mild dish soap like Dawn to warm water. Dampen a soft cloth and gently wash the entire backsplash surface. Avoid abrasive scrubbing which can scratch the finish.

Rinse soap residue thoroughly and dry. Wipe in the direction of the grain for best results.

3. Remove Grease and Grime

For heavy grease or dirt, spray degreaser directly onto the backsplash. Let it sit briefly before wiping clean with a soft cloth. You can also use an all-purpose cleaner.

Rinse and dry thoroughly when finished. Repeat if needed for stubborn soils.

4. Disinfect Surface

Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spritz this onto the backsplash and let sit for 5 minutes before wiping. Vinegar naturally disinfects while brightening the stainless steel.

5. Remove Hard Water Stains

Spots caused by mineral deposits can be lifted with white vinegar. Soak a cloth and place it directly on the stains for 5-10 minutes before rubbing off. Use a plastic scraper if needed.

For tough hard water stains, apply lime remover and let it dwell before wiping clean. Avoid harsh chemicals that could damage the finish.

6. Prevent Water Spots

Always dry stainless steel thoroughly after cleaning to prevent water spots. You can also apply a small amount of olive oil to act as a protective coating against fingerprints and smudges.

Polish dry with a microfiber cloth to buff the surface to a gleaming shine.

7. Address Rust Spots

Small rust spots can be removed with a stainless steel polish or a paste of baking soda and water. Rub gently and rinse. Avoid abrasive pads. For extensive rust damage, you may need to re-sand and re-coat the stainless steel.

Regular cleaning and polishing keeps stainless steel backsplashes spotless. Rinse away cleaner residue, dry thoroughly, and buff in the direction of the grain.

How to Clean Metal Backsplash

From copper to tin to aluminum, metal backsplashes bring eye-catching style to the kitchen. Keep them looking brilliant with these tips:

1. Dust and Dry Wipe

Use a microfiber cloth to dust the metal backsplash. Give extra attention to textured surfaces and grout lines where dirt collects. Wipe the entire surface with a dry towel next.

2. Wash With Dish Soap

Add a small amount of dish soap or other mild detergent to warm water. Dampen a soft cloth and gently wash the metal tile or sheet. Avoid abrasive scrubbing. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

3. Remove Grease Buildup

Spray an all-purpose cleaner or degreaser directly onto heavily soiled areas. Let it soak in briefly before gently wiping clean with a cloth. Repeat as needed for stubborn grease.

4. Disinfect and Brighten

Spray white vinegar onto the backsplash and let sit for 5 minutes. Wipe clean with a cloth. Vinegar disinfects while helping to brighten and clean metal surfaces.

5. Scrub With Baking Soda

For tarnish on metals like copper or brass, make a paste of baking soda and water. Gently rub onto affected areas using a soft cloth or plastic scrub pad. Rinse thoroughly and dry.

6. Address Rust Spots

Use a metal polish cream to buff out small rust spots, mineral deposits and tarnish. Avoid abrasive scouring pads or powders which can scratch.

Re-sealing outdoor metal installations annually will help prevent extensive rust damage over time.

7. Prevent Fingerprints

Apply a small amount of olive oil or lemon oil to act as a protective coating against fingerprints and smudges. Polish dry with a soft, lint-free cloth.

With proper care, a metal backsplash will maintain its luster and patina. Avoid abrasive cleaners and scrub pads which can scratch the finish.

How to Clean Stone Backsplash

Natural stone like granite, marble, or slate bring unmatched beauty to a backsplash. However, some care is needed when cleaning:

1. Dust and Dry Wipe

Use a microfiber cloth to gently dust stone tile or slab backsplash. Pay extra attention to textured areas and grout lines where dust collects.

Wipe the entire surface with a dry towel to prepare for wet cleaning.

2. Wash With Mild Soap

In a bucket of warm water, mix a small amount of mild dish soap or stone cleaner. Use a soft cloth to gently wash the stone. Avoid excessive scrubbing or pressure.

Rinse soap off thoroughly and dry completely to prevent streaks.

3. Disinfect Surface

Mix 1/4 cup white vinegar with water in a spray bottle. Spritz onto the backsplash and let sit briefly before wiping off. Vinegar naturally disinfects while brightening the stone.

4. Remove Grease and Grime

For heavier soiling, spray a degreasing cleaner directly onto the backsplash. Let it soak in for 5-10 minutes before gently wiping clean with a soft, damp cloth. Rinse thoroughly.

5. Scrub With Baking Soda

Make a paste of baking soda and water to scrub away stubborn stains and dried-on gunk. Apply to affected areas and let sit before rinsing. Avoid harsh chemical cleaners.

6. Address Etching

Use a polish made for natural stone to gently buff out any etched spots. Severe etching may require professional repair. Take care to avoid future damage by using coasters, trivets and sealants.

7. Re-seal Surface

Apply a fresh coat of natural stone sealer every 1-2 years according to product directions. This prevents stains from setting into the porous surface.

With proper care, a stone backsplash will stay naturally gorgeous for years. Use only mild, pH-neutral cleaners and avoid abrasives. Re-seal regularly.

How to Clean Kitchen Backsplash Grout

Grout lines in the backsplash take a beating and can be a magnet for grease, food and grime. Keep grout clean and bright with these tips:

1. Dry Brush Loose Dirt

Use a small, stiff-bristle grout brush to lightly brush away any dried dirt or debris sitting on top of the grout lines. Work in small sections.

2. Apply Cleaning Solution

Spray an all-purpose cleaner, dish soap solution or diluted bleach onto the grout lines. Avoid bleach on colored grout. Let the cleaning solution sit for 5 minutes.

3. Scrub and Rinse

Using the grout brush, scrub the grout lines to lift dirt from the crevices. Dip the brush in cleaning solution as needed. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

4. Remove Stains

For stubborn stains, apply baking soda or vinegar paste and let sit for 10 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing. A grout pen can also target discoloration.

Be careful not to scrub too hard or you may damage the grout.

5. Disinfect

Wipe down the grout with diluted bleach or other disinfectant. This will kill bacteria and help whitening. Rinse completely and allow to fully dry.

6. Seal Grout

Apply a penetrating grout sealer according to product label. This creates a protective barrier against future dirt and stains. Reapply every 1-2 years.

Regular, thorough grout cleaning will help prevent permanent staining or damage. Use the right tools and never allow moisture to linger.

Tips for Maintaining a Clean Backsplash

Once you’ve tackled a deep cleaning, keep your backsplash looking its best with these daily and weekly maintenance tips:

  • Wipe up spills, splatters and grease immediately to prevent stains.
  • Rinse dishes, hands and surfaces before they touch the backsplash. Limit soap contact.
  • Dry any water on the backsplash with a squeegee or towel to prevent mineral deposits.
  • Use cutting boards, risers or other protection when prepping food. Avoid direct contact.
  • Clean heavy splatters with a Magic Eraser sponge to lift grease.
  • Spot clean problem areas daily or weekly with an all-purpose cleaner.
  • Give the entire backsplash a thorough wash monthly or as needed.
  • Address re-grouting, re-caulking or sealant needs promptly to prevent moisture damage.
  • Limit use of harsh chemicals or abrasives that can damage many backsplash surfaces.
  • Inspect for cracks or damage that require repair to prevent moisture intrusion.
  • Plan to re-seal porous natural stone backsplash materials every 1-2 years.

With vigilant daily and weekly care, you’ll only need occasional deep cleaning sessions. A well maintained backsplash helps showcase your dream kitchen.

Common Backsplash Cleaning Questions

Cleaning and caring for a kitchen backsplash doesn’t need to be complicated. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

How often should I clean my backsplash?

Ideally, do a thorough full cleaning of the entire backsplash about once a month. Spot clean spills and splatters daily or weekly as needed.

What is the best way to clean grout?

Use a specialized grout brush to scrub away dirt in crevices with an all-purpose cleaner or diluted bleach. Make sure to rinse completely and allow to fully dry.