Some of the most effective building materials in making a home more beautiful and elegant are tiles. Contrary to what people think, tiles are not only a popular option for flooring on bathrooms or kitchens, but it can be used anywhere else around the home. Tiles are durable and easy to clean flooring materials that can reduce the accumulation of dust and other household irritants usually associated with carpets or wooden floors.
Floor tiles are usually made from ceramic or porcelain and are made from materials like refined clay. These tiles are usually glazed with a fine coating of glass that will give them that elegant glossy finish. In between each individual tile is the porous mortar or sealant called grout, which is used to fill in all spaces and gaps between the tiles and has the same hue or color as the tiles themselves.
However, no matter how durable-looking tiles and grout appear, they can still lose their elegance and brilliance over time due to the accumulation of dirt, grime and grease brought about by the constant use and traffic associated with floors and counter tops. Tiles lose their sparkle and grout can be heavily stained. With proper cleaning and restoration methods, the brilliance and elegance of tiles and grout can still be recovered.
The Importance of Keeping Your Tiles and Grout Clean
Aside from floors, tiles are used as counter tops for kitchens where foods are prepared for cooking. Dirt and the grime that accumulated on both the tile surface and in between the grout could harbor certain harmful bacteria that can cause certain illnesses and a variety of diseases.
This is why it is important that tiles and grout are kept clean to prevent these microorganisms from being passed to foods or picked up by small children and toddlers as they crawl from one tile to the next during playtime. To ensure that this would not happen, homeowners should keep these surfaces clean and sanitized at all times.
When you are performing cleaning and maintenance work on tiles and grout, make sure that you are wearing proper safety apparel like rubber or latex gloves, facemasks or respirators and goggles to prevent chemicals and other cleaning materials from contacting skin.
The Different Types of Tiles and Grout
There are two basic classifications of tiles and grout used for home applications. This is the Portland cement grout and epoxy resin grout. These are further categorized into two types: the sanded or the non-sanded.
* Non-sanded Portland Cement Grout: composed of Portland cement mixed with fine fillers, colorful pigments and a water additive. This is applied in between tiles when these are already totally dry.
* Sanded Portland Cement Grout: almost similar on composition from the non-sanded type except that this is applied to moistened tile and damp.
* Latex Modified Sanded Portland Cement Grout: a latex polymer is added to the original composition to make it more water resistant and has stronger bonding characteristics.
* 100% Epoxy Resin Grout: this type of grout is made from 100% epoxy, together with silica fibers, pigments and a hardener. This type is more resistant to staining.
General Tile and Grout Cleaning Tips
Basic tools like a hard brush, detergents and cleaning solutions are used to clean tiles and grout. On top of these things, the following are some of the techniques and tips that can be used for effective cleaning.
* Cleaning should be done on a weekly basis and could be enhanced by using a rotary cleaner and some effective cleaning agents. Commercial or household cleaners can be effective as will be described later here.
* Brushing or rotary cleaners are great tools to use to allow the cleaning agents to penetrate the grout surface or to seep through caked dirt and grime on top of tile surfaces.
* Be cautious in mixing or combining different cleaners as these chemicals can react and give off toxic fumes that can be harmful to humans. If you do not know the chemical nature of such cleaners and chemical, avoid mixing them to prevent any untoward incidents.
* Daily maintenance of glazed tiles can prevent accumulation of dirt and grime. You can do this by using a damp mop or cloth and a mild detergent dissolved in warm water. For unglazed tiles, you may need a scouring powder and an abrasive cleaner for better cleaning results.
* Install felt pads on the feet of tables and other appliances to avoid scratching of the tile surface, particularly when dragging or moving these objects.
* When cleaning the tiled floor using a vacuum cleaner, make sure that there are no metal or hard plastic attachments that can damage or scratch the surface of the tiles as you glide across the floor.
Commercial Cleaning Materials
The following are some of the most popular commercial tile and grout cleaning materials available in the market that
* One of the most used materials in removing stains from surfaces is chlorine bleach. This can give good results from the cleaning process, however ensure that you apply the chemical directly on the tiles and grout and avoid contact of the chemical with adjacent cloth or fabrics like carpets and rugs. On top of that, care should be taken not to inhale the toxic fumes that these chemicals give off.
* Oxygen bleach is a great alternative to chlorine bleach, as it does not give off toxic fumes harmful to humans, although it is not as powerful. For best results, allow the solution to penetrate the surface and seep through the dirt and grime by letting it sit for more than 30 minutes to blast apart to molecules of stain and dirt. Mop or rinse the chemical off after cleaning. Oxygen bleach is color-safe and the color of the grout will not be affected.
* Packaged water softener is also available for use in removing soap scum buildup. The softener is mixed with 1 cup of hot water and 2 tablespoons of rottenstone for best results. The solution is applied with a sponge or damp cloth and rinsed after the scum has come off.
* Another commercial chemical used for cleaning tile and grout surfaces is tri-sodium phosphate or TSP. Just mix 1 or 2 tablespoons of this chemical and dissolve in a gallon of hot water then apply directly to the tiles. Rinse the cleaned surfaces with warm water afterwards.
Household Materials You Can Use for Cleaning
Some household chemicals that are in common use for daily home use can also be used for cleaning tile and grout surfaces. Although these are not as powerful as commercially available cleaners or chemicals, these household items can be effective using a little elbow grease and some patience. They are also safer for use.
* Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant common in first aid kits and medicine cabinets. It can also be used as an effective cleaner for tiles and grout and can be effective in cleaning molds, mildew and other microorganisms hiding in between the gaps between the tiles or within the porous grout. You can apply it diluted or concentrated on the affected surfaces. Let it stay for some time and rinse off after the bubbling effect when it comes into contact with microorganisms has subsided.
* An alcohol solution is another common household item that can also be used as a cleaner for tiles and grout. Just spray it on the affected area and let it sit for some time before brushing with a detergent solution and rinsing with warm water.
* Baking soda is an all-around household chemical that is also effective in cleaning tiles and grout. Although this is a bit tedious to use as a cleaner as you have to sprinkle baking soda over the damp surface then clean with a brush, this household chemical is quite effective in removing the dirt and grime from the grout surface. This can also be made more effective by adding undiluted vinegar on the surface.
* Surprisingly, shaving cream can also be used to clean colored grout. You can apply it directly to the grout surface, however it would be better to test first to confirm that the color in the grout has no reaction to the cream.
* When you have colored grout that has turned dark from accumulated dirt and grime, you can pour vinegar and then let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse with warm water and detergent and you can repeat the process as necessary. For better cleaning action, you can use a soft toothbrush or sponge to rub the surfaces.
* If you have stains on unglazed tiles like rust and other discolorations, you can use a 5 percent hydrochloric acid solution and apply it on the affected area.
* Nail polish spills on ceramic tiles can be removed by a paper towel soaked in acetone. If the nail polish has hardened, you can let the towel sit for a while until it softened and easily scraped off.
* A pencil eraser can also be used to remove stubborn stains and dirt of the surface of the ceramic tiles or in between the tiles.
* Freshen up by rubbing half a lemon or brushing lemon juice on the grout. It can help lighten the grout color and bring it back to original colors.
Preventive Maintenance for Your Tile and Grout
After cleaning tiles and grout, re-apply a coating of grout sealer to make the grout water resistant. Ideally, sealing should be done every two years to prevent the grout from deteriorating. Damaged grout from cleaning or regular wear and tear should be repaired using proper tools and materials.
Tile and grout cleaning should be done at least once a week to maintain its elegant and sheer. A daily cleaning routine with a simple mop and warm water can prevent dirt and grime from accumulation and prevent it from building up and making it too difficult to clean and remove.
Following these simple tips and techniques can help you maintain your ceramic floor tiles and restore it to its natural beauty and elegance that can enhance the appearance of your homes.