HOW DO I TAKE CARE OF MY… tile and grout?

A recent trend has been to remove carpeting and replace it with some form of hard flooring. One of the most practical and classic is tile and grout. Most homes have at least some tile and grout, maybe in the bathrooms or utility areas. Some have it in kitchen and foyer areas. How much do you have? How does it look? While we can definitely help you bring back the new look of your floors, how can you keep them looking good longer? Let’s go over a few things that can help.

First, do you know what your floors are made of? Many assume that all tile is roughly the same, but not so. The most common tile used is ceramic and porcelain. These are man made floors and very resilient. They now come in more and more styles and patterns so much so that sometimes they are hard to distinguish from stone. The other material seen more and more is natural stone. This can be travertine, slate, marble, or granite. There are other less common stones as well used for a variety of things in the house.

Second, what should you use on the floors to clean them? Knowing what you have is extremely important as using the wrong thing can cause costly and unsightly damage to the floors. Ceramic and porcelain are the easiest. You can use virtually any household cleaner and not cause any problems. That being said, you should not use just anything on them. As far as stone, it is imperative that you follow the instructions you got when the floor was installed. If you do not have that, go with a neutral ph cleaner as acids (even as common as vinegar) will begin to dull and etch travertine and marble floors.

Third, what is the process for maintaining the floors? The most important aspect of cleaning is dry soil removal. How you do this is very important on tile and grout. Your best means is to vacuum! This lifts the soil off the floor and out of grout lines. A distant second is sweeping. The last thing, just slightly better than nothing at all, is dust mopping. Why? You are pushing the dirt into the grout lines to stay for all eternity! Well at least until a professional cleaning. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum regularly.

Next comes wet cleaning. Here is where knowing what material your floors are made of is so important. If you are unsure, just use warm water. Even if you do use a cleaner, use it sparingly. Sometimes we treat the floors as if we are scrubbing a greasy fry pan, putting way too much soap in the water. All you need us just enough to help break up the soil, nothing more. The long term effect is that soapy water sits in the grout lines and dries. Grout can become like a dirt magnet in this case. Look at the edges of the room and compare the color of the grout with the color in the center of the room. Darker? It could be that you are using too much cleaner.

Follow these simple steps and keep that floor looking good!

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