The 5 Best Ways to Maintain Tile Floors Between Cleanings
April 5, 2013
I posted not too long ago about how Aaron’s Quality Cleaners came to my house and cleaned the tile floor, including the grout. I expressed my amazement at the difference from before to after. I still recommend this process for everybody’s tile and grout. I am truly flabbergasted that my floor could ever look so pristine!
Unfortunately, I am now faced with a dilemma. What is the best way to keep my tile, and especially my grout, clean from today until a year from now when I get it cleaned again? If I mop it, won’t all the dirty water just flow into the grout and re-dirty it? Do I need to seal it again? Is there a special product I should be using?
I’ve heard some people talk about how they don’t mop their tile at all. They just keep it swept or vacuumed and then wipe up any spills that happen. With three kids and a dog that just isn’t possible in my house. There are drips from the dog bowl, drips from the dishwasher/sink, and general dirt that comes in. The tile can easily look dirty within a week of being cleaned.
So, I did what any conscientious American would do. I “Googled” it! My eyes are red and dry and my shoulder and neck muscles ache from all the time I have spent researching this issue. Let me tell you, there are a plethora of ideas out there for cleaning tile and grout. A lot of opinions, but a few common threads as well.
I have organized all the information into 5 clear directions:
1. Sealing your grout is a MUST!
Newly installed, or freshly cleaned or restored, grout needs to be sealed to protect it from dirt and grime. Grout is extremely porous. Dirt gets absorbed into it and then attracts molds and pretty soon you have discolored grout that is nearly impossible to get clean again. Most tile installer do not seal the grout as it takes a few days for the grout to “cure” before it can be sealed. Therefore, don’t assume that just because your tile is new that your tile is also newly sealed.
There are two types of grout sealers. Water based and solvent based. Most common, less expensive, and easier to apply are the water based sealers. They hold up fairly well, but are unable to penetrate as deep into the grout as the solvent based ones. However if you plan to seal your grout with a solvent based sealer, then I would almost certainly go with a professional sealer as it can be difficult to get the process just right. Too much product and you end up having to strip it off and start over. Too little, and grime will seep into the grout where you have not covered it fully.
Different brands of sealer also differ in how often you need to reapply a sealer. A good general rule of thumb is to reseal your grout every one to three years. That rule is based on the idea that you are using the appropriate cleaning products to maintain your grout and tile in the meantime. High traffic area should probably be resealed at least once a year. Also remember that all sealers will lose their effectiveness over time and will need to be reapplied.
2. Use the right cleaner on your grout.
Just because a product sells itself as a tile cleaner does not mean it is good as a grout cleaner too. If you use the wrong product, then you can erode the sealant you just applied to your grout, rendering it useless.
If you remember back to your high school chemistry class, your teacher probably covered the subjects of alkalinity and acids. The PH scale goes from 0-14. Anything above the number seven is an alkaline while anything below the number seven is an acidic. Exactly seven is neutral. And that is where you want to be when choosing a cleaning product for your tile and grout. So long as it is within 1 ½ to 2 points of the number seven, it is probably a good choice.
Using any type of acid on your grout will definitely cause the sealer to be eaten away. Even natural products are high in acid, such as vinegar, lemon juice, or even hydrogen peroxide to some extent. At the same time, if you tip too far the other way you end up with products high in alkalinity such as bleach and ammonia. These products can also cause damage to grout, tile, and sealer.
Some of the more popular ph-neutral tile, stone and grout cleaners out there are:
- MiraClean #1 by Miracle Sealants (6.5 -7.5 ph)
- Stone Tech Revitalizer by Stone Tech (5.5 – 6.5 ph)
- Apollo All Purpose, No Rinse Floor Cleaner by Interstar (6 – 8 ph)
As with any cleaning product, first test it on a small, inconspicuous area of your flooring to be sure that it won’t damage your grout or tile in any way. This can especially be a problem if the grout is old or has been poorly installed.
3. Keep your tile swept or vacuumed on a regular basis.
What is a regular basis? At least once a week. Dust and dirt build up on your tile just waiting for a spill to pick them up and flow them into the grout lines in your flooring. Therefore, if you keep the layer of dust on your floor to a minimum, then the grout stands a better chance of maintaining its cleanliness. Dirt and grit can scratch the surface of more delicate flooring surfaces as well.
4. Change your mop water frequently.
As you mop your tile keep in mind that the water flowing over your grout will naturally want to deposit any bits of dirt back into it. Keeping your mop water clean can really help with this dilemma. Plus, you get a cleaner floor in the long run.
I have heard a number of recommendations for a wet/dry vacuum called the Hoover FH40010B FloorMate Wet/Dry Vacuum. It retails for about $130. There are mostly good reviews regarding this machine and I am considering trying it out myself.
It is heralded as being a 3-in-1 machine. It vacuums, mops, and dries hard floors. It has two water tanks so dirty water never gets put back onto the clean floor. The brushes are gentle enough for most flooring surfaces and some machines come equipped with special attachments for cleaning grout. The main drawback I have heard is the need to change the water tank often. Hoover recommends its own product with this vacuum. Hoover FloorMate Multi-Floor Plus Hard Floor Cleaning Solution. (7.2 – 8 ph).
5. Get your tile floor professionally cleaned.
After following these directions for maintaining your tile, you will eventually come to a point where you just need to call in the big guns. You can sweep, vacuum, mop and scrub day in and day out and still your floors will eventually break down under the pressures of everyday life. Don’t lose hope when that happens. Call us! Aaron’s Quality Cleaners are the best tile cleaners in Fresno. They did wonders for my tile and grout and I feel confident that your floors will shine under their excellent attention as well.
Julie Rosenfeld serves as an Administrative Assistant for Aaron’s Quality Cleaners, a carpet-cleaning company that services the Fresno and Clovis (CA) areas. She is the author of “Julie’s Corner” and provides information and perspective on topics related to the carpet-cleaning industry.
Aaron’s Quality Cleaners performs carpet cleaning, tile cleaning, aggregate cleaning and upholstery cleaning in Fresno, Clovis, Madera and Sanger California