7 Secrets to Keeping your Tile Floor Looking Fantastic
We have seen hundreds of tile floors just like yours, and we have studied tile cleaning and mop strategies. Follow these easy tips to help you to maintain a clean ceramic tile floor. If, after following these steps, you still cannot get the floor clean, it may be time to call a professional floor cleaner. It is also important to point out, stone floors are a different subject altogether. Some of these tips are good for stone floors, but some of them are not. If you are not sure what you have, give us a call and we can help you.
- Sweep or vacuum often. Sweeping helps to reduce wear and scratching by removing dry particles that scratch at the surface of your tiles. We suggest using a vacuum or a fuzzy dust mop. Standard brooms can leave small particles behind and drag soil over the top of a tile. Vacuums remove the soil through, well, lifting it away. Dust mops trap the soils. The use of door mats and removing shoes will also help reduce the amount of dry soil.
- Clean up spill immediately. Acidic drinks (or animal urine) can penetrate the grout and “open the pores” so that dirty mop water soaks down deeper when you try to clean. Spills can leave stains and are sticky, so dirt will be attracted to it. Spills can also damage the finish on some tiles, so cleaning it up quickly is in your best interest.
- Mop your floor on a regular basis using a NEUTRAL pH floor cleaner. Standard floor cleaners sold in the store are alkaline based. Alkaline cleaners meant for everyday use attract soil and become dirt magnets on your tile and in your grout. The more you mop, the worse the grout gets. Vinegar is a popular cleaning trend, but doesn’t clean well. Vinegar is acidic, and so is most of the soil on your floor. If you remember a little bit of chemistry, you will not get much of a reaction using a similar pH. Vinegar with Baking Soda gets a reaction, but also leaves a residue (Dirt Magnet) In a vinegar/baking soda mix, the opposite pH levels are actually fighting each other rather than the soil. Any cleaning is secondary due to the violent reaction. Vinegar, being acidic, will open the pores of the grout and cause liquid to penetrate deeper into the grout.
- You will want to mop using a proper technique. We suggest a 2 bucket system, where one bucket has your neutral pH cleaning solution, and one bucket has rinse water. Dip your mop into the cleaning solution, wring it out a little, and apply it generously but not splashy – you don’t want water running everywhere! You do want it to soak a little bit. What the professionals call dwell time – like soaking a dirty pan for a little while before cleaning it. If your grout is really bad, now is a good time to scrub it with a grout brush. Wring the mop out and then rinse it in clear water. Then wring it out again and mop up the cleaning solution and soil using a figure 8 pattern – pulling the water and soil towards you and towards the center of your mop pass. Once its picked up, clean and wring your mop in the clear water and repeat the process until the floor is clean. The point is, you want the cleaning solution to be as free from soil as possible, and you want to pick up the dirty mop water as fast as possible. If you’re fighting a real battle… a wet/dry vac comes in handy to quickly remove the dirty mop water!
- The best water to use is distilled or softened water. Alkaline deposits in hard water build up on your floor causing a dull finish and streaks. The alkaline in the water also works against the cleaning solution you are using. The less you’re fighting your water, the better it will clean for you. Follow up your mopping with a towel dry. Those pesky water spots get harder to remove the more they build up. If you have a fan to move air over the area and dry it faster, use it.
- If your grout is dark from soap and soil soaking in, you may have to do some heavy restorative cleaning. Use an acidic tile cleaner made specifically for restoring grout and follow the directions closely. Cleaning with an acidic tile cleaner will help to break down the alkaline soaps and make the grout easier to get a deep clean. You must neutralize the acid by cleaning with an alkaline or sealing with a quality sealer (once its REALLY CLEAN or you’ll regret it). This is a really good time to utilize a wet dry vac to get the dirty water up quickly. We recommend leaving this kind of cleaning to the professionals, but that’s not always possible.
- Once your grout is clean, seal it with a quality sealer. Sealers will slow the penetration of liquids and make future cleaning easier. Some floors are “too far gone” for even a professional cleaning to make look new again. These floors are great candidates for a Color Seal.
When To Call in a Professional Tile Cleaner?
Ceramic Tile should be cleaned every 2-4 years unless under a regular and quality tile maintenance cleaning plan. The grout will “allow” for a small amount of soil penetration each year – dirt just works it’s way in there. A standard cleaning can remove about 4 years of soil. There are variables that can increase the frequency needed, like how often and how well it is mopped, are there kids, pets, lots of soil from the yard or garage.
Was the tile sealed? Of course, dirty mop water and spills soak in much faster on unsealed tile. Your 4 year cleaning cycle just got reduced to 2 years. Most sealers have a 3 to 5 year effectiveness on indoor grout. It’s important to discuss proper sealer here. You NEVER want to wax or use “mop on shine” products. You will eventually pay 3 to 4 times as much to fix the problem caused by the waxy buildup. You should also never use a topical sealer indoors (and almost never outdoors). It will eventually wear, and some yellow over time. These are very difficult (read expensive) to strip.
Does it still look awful after your best cleaning attempt? Do you just not want to spend the time needed to get it done right? We have the experience, tools, and products to get it done right in much less time than you spending your spring weekends with a toothbrush on the grout in the kitchen.
-If you would like a free in home consultation about your tile floor, you can give us a call at – 281-973-0281 or fill out this quick online schedule request.