Remove Stains from Terracotta

Whether planters, floor tiles or decorative items, you may find yourself with the need to remove stains from terracotta you have around your home.

Terracotta is a great material to use for planters, tile floors and other décor pieces that can bring a bit of zest into your home, but it can be quite porous. This can make it a challenge for you to keep it clean and stain free.

Remove Stains from Terracotta
The good news is that with the right cleaning tools combined with elbow grease and a bit of patience, you’ll be able to remove those stains in no time at all.
Your first focus should be on the type of stains that you are working with. Different types of stains require very specific types of treatment, so first analyze the terracotta, identify the stain, and select the right method to remove stains from terracotta
Mineral Deposit Stains
Terracotta pots can often develop a white film on both the inside and outside of the pots. This is very common with pots that have been used previously, and is generally nothing more than mineral deposits left behind from the plants being watered. You can return a fresh look to your terracotta pots and planters in no time at all. Prior to cleaning the pots to remove the stains, ensure that you remove any soil and other dirt from the pots. Use a mild dish soap and soft-bristled brush to thoroughly clean the pots. Rinse the soap off and allow the pots to dry. This should remove most of the staining from the surface of the pots. If the white stains are still visible then you’ll find that a good cleaning with vinegar will do the trick. Wipe down the surface with full-strength vinegar to remove the stains.
To protect the surface of your pots and planters before planting something new in them you can condition the terracotta by wiping it down with mineral oil or baby oil. The porous nature of the terracotta will ensure the oil is absorbed and protected for continued use.
While oil is a good protective compound for terracotta pots, it is not necessarily something that you want to see spilled on your terracotta floor tiles. The good news is that it’s really simple to remove stains from terracotta tile flooring
Create a Poultice
One of the downsides to terracotta is that the porous nature of it can see any stains going deeper than just the surface. All is not lost, however. In order to effectively pull the oil stains up and out of the terracotta, you will need a cleaning solution that can absorb the oil stain. One of the best methods for floor tiles is to use a cleaning poultice. Most often associated with wound care, a poultice is made up of an absorbent material that is set upon the wound, or in this case stain, in order to pull the infection or oil out of the surface.
It’s a snap to create your own cleaning poultice, using items that you have around your home right now. There are several powdered and gel poultice solutions on the market, but knowing how to whip up your own can help you out when you’re in a bind.
The items you’ll need include ammonia, powdered chalk or baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, water, a sponge, and paper towels. Powdered chalk can be found at your local hardware store if you don’t already have some in stock. Baking soda can also work, in a pinch.
Start by cleaning the surface of the tile with a mild dish detergent and warm water. Allow to dry or use paper towels to dry the area. Your next step to clean the oil stain is to blot at it with a sponge that has been dampened with ammonia. The ammonia will work to remove some of the oil, particularly if the stain is large in size. Rinse well with water and then either allow to air dry or dry with paper towels.
Combine the powdered chalk and hydrogen peroxide until it forms the consistently just thicker than toothpaste. Wearing gloves or using a soft-bristled scrubbing brush, apply a liberal layer of the cleaning paste to the stained area.
Allow the cleaning past to dry completely before you clean it up with warm water and a sponge. For severe stains you may want to leave the poultice on overnight. To keep it from drying out too rapidly, you could cover the poultice with plastic wrap to keep some of the moisture contained. The longer the poultice is on the stain, the more likely you are to see the results that you are looking for.
Acetone can also work as a cleaning solution with your poultice. Soak several paper towels with acetone, enough to completely cover the oil stain, and place them over the stain. Because acetone does evaporate rather swiftly, you can slow the process down by covering the poultice with plastic wrap. Use painters tape to seal the edges and keep the moisture in place. Once completely dried, you can remove the poultice and clean the area thoroughly.
One of the best things that you can do for your terracotta is to seal it using a commercial grade sealant. You may need to repeat the process periodically, but it will go a long way toward protecting your terracotta from accidental staining.