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Posted by Caryn Colgan | Feb 23, 2010

Tile and Grout Cleaning Tips

Once your tiles and grout are clean, seal them to make sure they stay that way!

Tile floors are intended to last for many years, but over time the tile and grout can get stained. Since grout and some tiles are porous, dirt and stains become trapped, making the floor look dirty. In the shower and tub areas, mold, mildew and soap scum cause unsightly stains and can even lead to health issues if the mold spreads to the backboard or drywall areas.

Regular cleaning methods, such as mopping and vacuuming, are not sufficient for tile and grout cleaning. Regularly cleaning the lines of grout can be hard on the back and somewhat tedious. Invest some time in tile and grout cleaning, and then seal them for long-lasting results.

Tile and Grout Cleaning the Easy Way

Before sealing the tile and grout, be sure to give the floor or wall a thorough cleaning. This can be done with eco-friendly solutions using either white vinegar or baking soda. Mix equal parts vinegar and distilled water, or make a paste with distilled water and baking soda. Use distilled water because it contains no minerals or chemicals that might otherwise stain the tile and grout. Do not use soap to clean the floor. Soaps leave a sticky residue that dulls the tile and attracts dirt.

Work the vinegar solution or baking soda paste into the grout in circular motions and then scrub back and forth. Rinse with distilled water and a clean sponge or mop. For difficult stains, use chlorine bleach diluted with distilled water (3 parts water, 1 part bleach). Note: Use bleach only on white grout and never on colored grout. Bleach will permanently fade the colors.

When using bleach, always wear rubber gloves, eye protection and work clothes that you don't mind permanently staining. Test your mixture in a small, inconspicuous area before applying to a larger area. Rinse and repeat. Hydrogen peroxide can be used full-strength instead of bleach, but never mix these two ingredients together or mix them with other chemicals, as toxic fumes may result.

Seal the Grout

After tile and grout cleaning, allow to dry and apply a grout and tile sealer. There are two basic types of sealer: penetrating and membrane. Penetrating sealers are absorbed into the grout and should be reapplied every 1-3 years. Membrane sealer creates a barrier to protect the tile and grout and needs to be refreshed every 1-2 years or sooner if the membrane fails.

Avoid applying sealer to unsealed tile, since the sealer will stain the tile. Rather, apply the sealer using a pen-like applicator and follow the grout lines. If your tile is glazed or otherwise sealed, brush or spray the sealer over the surface. Allow to dry and apply a second coat.

Make your tile floor, wall or backsplash look like new with a careful cleaning. Natural tile and grout cleaning ingredients like vinegar and baking soda will not harm the environment or your family while removing stains. Always seal the grout and maintain the seal for beauty that will last years.

Get the skinny on ceramic tile cleaning from our friends at AOL's DIY Life.

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