Those who value clean tile floors know that floors rarely look clean with only an occasional mopping. Moreover, even a clean tile floor can look grimy if the grout hasn't been cleaned. If you want your tile flooring to make a good impression, you need to understand the role grout plays. Otherwise, all the mopping in the world won't be enough to make your floor sparkle. Here's what you need to know:
Not All Grout Is the Same
Before you can clean your grout thoroughly, it helps to know its composition. These are the most common kinds of grout:
- Cement mixed with acrylic or latex. This is the standard grout blend. It usually contains coloured pigments that give it a basic gray hue. This darker grout doesn't show stains in the same way as lighter colours. The latex or acrylic polymers also protect the colour from fading.
- Sanded mixture. In some cases, tile installers add sand to the grout mixture, particularly for wide joints. This creates greater stability.
- Epoxy. An epoxy grout mixture is especially good for kitchen backsplash areas or bathroom flooring, as it offers greater stain resistance than other grout types. However, some epoxy grout becomes yellow over time, particularly in sunny areas.
In most cases, floor installers also apply grout sealers to cure the floor and protect it against stains. Still, even the best-sealed grout needs regular cleaning.
Not All Stains Are the Same
Understanding the properties of grout is important, but it's just the first step in effective cleaning. To ensure an attractive result, you also need to know what common substances interfere with your grout:
- Soap scum. Particularly in a bathtub or shower surround, soap is a leading cause of grimy tile and grout surfaces. If you also deal with hard water stains, you have double the trouble. Don't assume all cleaners are safe for your grout; read the instructions and ingredients panel first.
- Mildew. If your tile is in a humid area (again, the bathroom may be a problem zone), you risk mildew stains on your tile and grout. A bleach solution is generally sufficient for mildew, but you should ask your professional cleaning technician to be certain that bleach is safe for grout.
- Food stains. The kitchen floor is a magnet for food spills, so pay attention to these areas whenever you drop liquid or solid items. It only takes a splash of red wine or a smashed blueberry to stain your floor, particularly if your grout is unsealed or worn. These areas generally require extra attention from a professional.
- Ground-in dirt. Even regular foot traffic can, over time, grind dirt further into your grout. This type of dirt also needs professional attention whenever regular mopping doesn't make a visible difference.
Not All Cleaning Methods Are the Same
Even if you try to keep your floors and tile surfaces clean on a regular basis, your efforts may not yield positive results if you:
- Mop without sweeping the floor first, spreading dirt further onto each surface.
- Use minimal water on tiles, leading to streaks.
- Forget to empty the cleaning bucket regularly.
- Use improper tools - a flimsy mop on a large tiled floor just doesn't do the job.
- Mop with excess soap or too many chemicals that actually attract more dirt.
Instead of rushing through the job or using the wrong method, choose a professional cleaning service that understands tile floors and-most importantly-understands what's best for the grout between those tiles.
Remember, a professional understands which methods work best for grout, and which methods actually cause further problems. Your cleaning professional will thoroughly inspect tile and grout first so you can attend to loose grout before the cleaning process. After scrubbing each grout line, a professional can fully extract the dirt and grime within.
Now that you understand your grout better, you're closer to treating it with respect. In the end, you can congratulate yourself for a truly grime-free grout surface, not to mention a sparkling tile floor.