The kitchen and bathroom are two of the most germ-ridden rooms in a home.
Tiles are typically quite hygienic, but that doesn't always mean they're easy to clean. Bathrooms and kitchens can harbor a lot of germs, so it's important that you clean them properly. Depending on the type of tiles you have, there are various things you can do to keep them pristine.
In this guide, we'll cover some key tile maintenance tips to keep your home clean and sparkling. Keep reading for more.
Sealing Tile Grout
Grout is the substance that goes between tiles, and it's available in a range of colors. More important than the appearance, however, is the function. The purpose of the grout is to completely fill the gaps between tiles so that they stay in place and moisture can't get through.
With kitchen and bathroom floors, you want to ensure they're properly sealed when first installed. If the grout isn't placed properly, there may be small gaps that water can get through.
For a full bathroom renovation, the grout and tiles should be covered after installation. This will protect them while everything else is being done. Once the curing process is complete, you need to seal the grout.
A penetrating/impregnating sealer is best, as they don't contain silicone. Silicone can reduce the lifespan of sealer, making it less effective. Note that epoxy grouts don't require a sealer as they're already chemically cured and acid resistant.
When sealed properly, the grout won't change color, but it will now be resistant to moisture. Make sure you take note of the lifespan of your sealer, as you'll need to apply it again in the future. The manufacturer's information should give you details on this.
Cleaning Tile Grout
While sealing the grout (or using epoxy grout) is essential, it can still suffer from discoloration and surface buildup. To prevent this, you need to clean it regularly.
You can do this using standard household or commercial cleaners if your tiles get regular use. If you need to do a more thorough cleaning, you can use a professional strength tile and grout cleaner. These can help remove grease, body oil, soap scum, algae, mildew stains, and acrylic/synthetic waxes.
Bear in mind that stronger cleaners can contain certain chemicals that you may want to avoid using. Look for a cleaner that's made using non-polluting chemicals and low VOC levels. Most home centers will have options like this available.
Removing Grout Stains
Regular maintenance will help keep your grout looking good, but staining and discoloration can still occur. It may reach a point where standard cleaning isn't enough to restore the original color. If this happens, you can use a grout stain.
Grout stains penetrate the surface of the grout and then seal it. There are different colors available, so make sure you get the right one. After using a grout stain, you don't need to worry about using another sealer.
Before staining, be sure to clean your grout well. This will get rid of any contaminants that could affect the finish.
Deep Cleaning Tiles
Typical daily cleaners can be ideal for a small amount of mess, but you need to be more considerate with deep cleans. Many cleaning products contain certain chemicals, and you want to ensure you use one that won't damage your tiles. You also need to follow a different process depending on the type of tiles you have.
Cleaning Ceramic and Porcelain
Ceramic and porcelain tiles are among the most durable available, making them relatively easy to keep clean. You can do this by following these steps:
1. Clean Up Loose Debris
You can do this with a vacuum or broom, and doing it regularly can help a lot. Dirt generally isn't a major issue, but sand and grit can affect the finish of glazed surfaces, making them duller.
2. Choose the Right Floor Mop
A chamois-type mop is generally better than a sponge mop for removing tile grime. Sponge mops can push the dirty water into grout lines, resulting in the opposite effect of what you're trying to do. With a chamois mop, you just need some mild detergent and clean water.
3. Look for Tile Stains
While cleaning, keep an eye out for any stains. If you find any, try to determine the cause. This will make it easier to find the right cleaner to get the best results.
4. Watch for Soap Residue
Soapy residue can leave your tiles looking hazy. A non-abrasive cleaner can remove this to keep your tiles looking shiny. You could even use a homemade cleaner such as fresh lemon juice, though this should never be used on stone tiles.
5. Dry the Tiles
If you leave your tiles to air dry, you'll likely end up with water spots. Dry the floor yourself with a lint-free cloth to get the best finish.
Cleaning Stone Tiles
Natural stone tiles might be solid, but they can react poorly to certain chemicals. As such, you need to be cautious about what cleaners you use.
A mild detergent is a good choice for slate tiles. Just make sure it doesn't have acidic contents like vinegar or lemon.
If you have a coating on your slate tiles, water spots can be more common. You should dry your tiles right away after cleaning them to prevent this.
Marble tiles are often considered one of the most visually appealing options, but they're also one of the most high-maintenance. Don't use any cleaning products that have an acidic PH level. This includes anything that contains lemon or vinegar.
Acidic substances can etch the tiles' surface. You can also scratch it if you use things like scouring powders or tough-bristled brushes. Make sure you use a soft mop/cloth to clean marble tiles.
Like slate and marble, you should use a detergent with a mild PH for granite tiles. Harsh cleaners can create streaks or cause discoloration. Buffing a polished granite floor can also help it stay shiny for longer.
Resilient Tile Floors
Resilient tile can be made from various materials such as cork, vinyl, linoleum, and rubber. If you want something easy to maintain, this is a good option.
Vinyl tiles require very little work. Sweep or vacuum any debris, and mop the surface with a vinyl cleaning solution. Just ensure you don't use an abrasive cleaner or scrubbing tool as these can damage the surface.
For linoleum flooring, you should use water with a linoleum flooring cleaning solution or borax detergent. Rinse the floor and let it dry, then apply a coat of wax and buff it. Doing this every 3-6 months will keep your floor looking good.
Cork tiles can have various finishes, and these require different cleaning methods. For a polyurethane seal (most common), water and white vinegar or mild detergent will work well, then simply rinse it. You can do the same for an unfinished or waxed cork color, but you should also apply wax once the floor is dry.
With tiles, cleaning is typically quite simple. The grout is where things become more difficult. Unlike tiles, it's porous, which allows it to absorb grease and other substances.
While you can use commercial cleaners, you may prefer to make your own. You can do this by combining banking soda and water into a paste. Rub this paste onto the grout and let it sit overnight.
Scrub it the next morning using a brush with stiff nylon bristles. Repeat this if it doesn't get stains out the first time. If your grout needs a sealer, apply this after.
Steam cleaners are another option, though there's a lot of debate over them. They seem to provide good results, so many people stand by them. Others believe that it can cause damage to grout in the long run.
If grout is properly sealed, then a steam mop shouldn't be an issue. When it comes to grout that isn't sealed or has some damage, however, the steam might penetrate the grout, causing discoloration and increasing the risk of damage. Make sure you consider this if you're thinking of using a steam cleaner for your tiles.
How Often Should You Clean Your Tile Floors?
This varies depending on the level of cleaning you're doing. In terms of dry cleaning (sweeping or vacuuming), you should try to do this about once a week. If your floor gets a lot of use, you might start to notice dirt building up quicker, so you can do it more often.
For a wet clean involving mopping, once a week is ideal to prevent the buildup of germs. You can spot-clean your grout every few months or when it starts to look dingy.
The Importance of Tile Maintenance
Proper tile maintenance is vital if you want to keep your bathroom or kitchen looking new for longer. Make sure you base your cleaning process around the type of tiles and grout you have to get the best results and prevent any damage.