Backsplashes play an important role in kitchens by protecting the walls from splashes and stains while cooking. Over time, backsplashes can accumulate grease, food splatters, water spots, and soap scum. Keeping your backsplash clean not only makes it look better but also helps extend its life. With some simple maintenance and cleaning techniques, you can keep your kitchen backsplash looking like new.
Cleaning Products and Tools to Have on Hand
Having the right cleaning products and tools will make cleaning the backsplash much easier. Here are some recommended items to have for cleaning a backsplash:
- Mild detergent or dish soap – Avoid harsh cleaners that can damage the backsplash surface. A mild detergent helps cut through grease and food grime.
- Soft cleaning rag – A microfiber cloth or soft sponge ensures you can scrub the backsplash without scratching it.
- Old toothbrush – For getting into crevices and grout lines. The bristles help loosen debris.
- Grout brush – A brush designed specifically for grout will clean it more effectively.
- Baking soda – Acts as a gentle abrasive to lift stains. Make a paste with water to scrub areas.
- White vinegar – Helps dissolve soap scum, hard water deposits, and grease.
- Commercial backsplash cleaner – Pick a brand formulated for your specific backsplash material.
- Spray bottle – For applying cleaning solutions to the backsplash surface. Avoid using excessive water.
- Squeegee – After cleaning, a squeegee wipes the backsplash dry to avoid water spots.
- Protective gloves – To keep hands protected from hot water and cleaning agents.
Daily Backsplash Cleaning Tips
Get into a daily habit of quick backsplash cleaning to prevent buildup. This makes deep cleaning less frequent.
- Wipe up food splatters, grease, soap, and water after cooking. It prevents staining and sticking. Use a damp microfiber cloth or paper towel.
- Do a quick daily spray down. Mist backsplash with warm water, wipe with a microfiber cloth, and dry with a squeegee.
- Rinse soap and cleaning product residue that can leave streaks.
- Scrape off stuck-on bits of food carefully with a plastic spatula to avoid scratching.
- Spray a light kitchen degreaser and let sit briefly before wiping to break up oil.
Weekly Backsplash Cleaning
Set aside time each week for a more thorough cleaning session to keep backsplash looking Tip Top.
- Clear counters and apply a degreasing spray. Let sit for 5 minutes before scrubbing.
- Use baking soda paste and a toothbrush to scrub out hard water marks and soap scum.
- Use a grout brush and cleaning solution to deep clean all grout lines.
- Rinse thoroughly and squeegee dry when finished to prevent water spots.
Monthly Backsplash Deep Cleaning
Do a thorough deep clean once a month to keep the backsplash sparkling.
- Remove everything from backsplash surface. Clean at an angle to see every inch.
- Apply a homemade paste of baking soda, warm water, and dish soap. Spread over backsplash.
- Let paste sit for 15-20 minutes before scrubbing with a soft brush.
- Use a grout saw to scrape out dirty grout and a grout brush to scrub grout lines.
- Rinse paste off and follow up with a vinegar/water solution to remove soap scum.
- Squeegee dry and buff with a microfiber cloth.
Cleaning by Backsplash Material
Use these tips to clean specific backsplash tile and surface types while avoiding damage.
Glass Tile Backsplash
Glass tile is prone to etching from acidic foods and liquids. Avoid abrasive scrubbers.
- For daily cleaning, use a microfiber cloth with warm water and mild dish soap.
- For weekly cleaning, use a soft sponge with glass cleaner or mix 1/2 cup white vinegar with 1 gallon water.
- For tough stains, make a paste with baking soda and water. Avoid abrasive pads.
Ceramic and Porcelain Tile Backsplash
Ceramic and porcelain backsplashes stand up well to daily use. Grout needs special attention.
- Use a sponge with warm water and mild detergent for daily wipe downs.
- Scrub grout lines weekly with a specialized grout brush.
- For heavy soil, apply baking soda paste and let sit before scrubbing.
Marble or Natural Stone Backsplash
Marble and natural stone require gentle cleaners to avoid damaging the delicate surface.
- Daily, wipe with microfiber and warm water. Avoid dish soap or vinegar.
- Weekly, clean with stone cleaner or mix lemon juice and water. Rinse thoroughly.
- Seal natural stone every 1-2 years to prevent stains and etching.
Stainless Steel Backsplash
Stainless steel stands up to splatters but is prone to water spots and fingerprints.
- Wipe daily with microfiber and glass cleaner to prevent fingerprint buildup.
- For hard water spots, scrub gently with non-abrasive scouring powder.
- Polish occasionally with a stainless steel polish/cleaner and microfiber cloth.
Metal Tile Backsplash
Metal backsplash tiles hold up well but may show scratches if cleaned too aggressively.
- Wipe daily with a soft cloth and mild dish soap and water.
- Apply a metal polish monthly with a soft cloth to restore shine.
- Avoid abrasive scrubbers and creams that can scratch the metallic surface.
Laminate backsplashes are prone to chipping at the caulk joints if not cleaned carefully.
- Use a soft sponge and mild detergent solution for daily cleaning.
- For hard water spots and soap scum, make a paste of baking soda and water.
- When scrubbing, use short, gentle motions to avoid lifting up caulk seams.
Troubleshooting Tough Backsplash Stains
Over time, some challenging stains can develop on the backsplash. Use these solutions to tackle them.
Grease and Oil Stains
- Apply baking soda directly on grease spots. Scrub with a soft bristle brush. Rinse.
- Spray backsplash with degreaser if needed. Let sit briefly before scrubbing and rinsing.
Hard Water Spots and Soap Scum
- Soak paper towels in white vinegar. Place them over the deposits for 15-20 minutes.
- After removing paper towels, scrub spots with baking soda paste.
Discolored Grout Lines
- Use a specialized grout whitener or make a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Spread on grout and let sit before scrubbing clean.
- For light stains, rub with baking soda paste right after they occur.
- For set-in stains, use a commercial backsplash cleaner formulated for the surface material. Let sit before scrubbing.
Dried Sauce or Food Splatter
- Soak dried food with a wet paper towel. Wait 10 minutes before scrubbing gently. Repeat if needed.
Lime and Mineral Deposits
- Spray vinegar and let sit for 15 minutes. Scrub with a non-abrasive pad.
- Rub lemon juice on the deposits. Let sit briefly before scrubbing and rinsing.
Mold or Mildew
- Mix 1 cup bleach with 1 gallon of water. Spray on backsplash and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Scrub and rinse thoroughly.
Maintaining the Backsplash Between Cleanings
Regular cleaning keeps a backsplash looking its best, but some maintenance practices will also help maintain its appearance.
- Use a penetrating grout sealer on porous grout every 1-2 years. This prevents stains from setting in.
- Reapply caulk along backsplash seams or around the counter-backsplash border when it begins cracking or peeling.
- For some surfaces like marble or travertine, apply a wax coating 1-2 times per year. This protects from etching.
- Install glass or plastic backsplash protectors behind cooking zones prone to splatters. These shield the surface.
- Periodically inspect for any cracked, loose, or missing backsplash tiles. Repair these immediately to prevent moisture damage.
- Turn on vent fans while cooking to reduce the amount of steam, grease, and grime that accumulates.
Common Backsplash Cleaning Questions
Cleaning and caring for a backsplash doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.
Should I use different products for stone vs. ceramic tile?
Yes, stone and tile require different cleaning solutions. Stone is porous and prone to etching while Tile is more durable. Use mild dish soap and water for ceramic and specialized stone cleaners for marble or granite.
How can I make my grout white again?
Mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide into a paste. Apply to discolored grout lines, let sit for 5-10 minutes, then scrub clean. Repeat as needed. Use a grout whitening pen on narrow grout lines.
Why does my backsplash have cloudy spots and streaks?
This is likely mineral deposits and soap scum. Wipe with a vinegar-soaked towel followed by a baking soda paste scrub. Always squeegee dry after cleaning to prevent water spots.
What is the safest way to clean a painted backsplash?
Use a soft microfiber cloth with warm water and mild dish soap on painted backsplashes. Avoid abrasive scrubbers or harsh chemicals that can damage the painted surface over time.
How often should I re-seal my backsplash?
For porous surfaces like natural stone, reseal every 1-2 years with a penetrating sealant. Non-porous surfaces like ceramic and glass tile don’t require sealing. Seal grout lines as needed to prevent staining.
Should I clean my backsplash before or after washing dishes?
Clean the backsplash after washing dishes. Detergent residues and food scraps left from dish washing can dirty and stain the backsplash. Wipe the backsplash down as a final step.
Keeping a backsplash clean takes regular maintenance but doesn’t require extensive work. By using the right tools and cleaners for your specific backsplash material, taking time for daily and weekly cleaning sessions, and doing occasional deep cleaning and upkeep, you can keep your backsplash looking like new for many years. Let these tips take the hassle out of cleaning so you can enjoy a fresh, stain-free backsplash every time you cook.