If you're looking for a way to freshen up your home, it's hard to beat an old-fashioned scrubbing of the floor. However, there are some things you should know before starting on this project.
In this article, we'll explain the best (and the safest) way to clean tile floors. First, we'll describe how to mix your cleaning solution and cover what you should avoid putting on your floor. Then, we'll show you how to apply it safely. Let's get started.
Step 1. Mix the solution
You can buy special cleaners for tile floors, or you can make a simple mixture of water and vinegar. If you want to keep costs down, use two parts white distilled vinegar and one part water. Fill a spray bottle with this mixture and shake it well before spraying it on the floor. A spray bottle will allow you to wet the floor evenly without getting it too wet or leaving puddles for bacteria to breed in.
Alternatively, you can buy a commercial cleaner or mix your concentrate. This type of cleaner is safe to use on any smooth surface and is less likely than other cleaners to damage the grout between tiles. Cleaners containing bleach should be used with care because they may discolor some types of tile.
Step 2. Clean the floor
Wipe up spills immediately. Clean your tile floors thoroughly before mopping to remove any dirt or debris that may scratch the surface. Sweep or vacuum first, then wipe up any large spills with a damp sponge. For smaller spills, dip the edge of a paper towel in water and gently blot it up.
Do not soak grout between tiles. Wetting grout can soften it so much that it will lose its structural integrity. So avoid getting grout lines too wet when you mop – just clean around them instead of through them. You can use a soft-bristle brush for this purpose, even on sealed grout – just be gentle.
Step 3. Steam-wash the floor
After you've cleaned your floors, fill a steam mop with water and let it heat up. Then glide it gently over your floor to remove any dirt or stains that may remain.
Steam-washing is one of the safest ways to clean tile floors because it doesn't use any chemicals. Instead, this process relies on the power of steam alone to loosen dirt and kill germs. By using water that's just below boiling point (about 200 degrees Fahrenheit), steam cleaners can lift away even stubborn grime without leaving behind any residue or harsh fumes.
But be careful not to push down too hard when you're scrubbing – it's easy to damage grout lines with a steam mop if you apply too much pressure.
Once the floor has dried, it's important to seal grout and tile against future stains by applying a coat of grout sealer.
Step 4. Apply the sealant
Make sure that your floors are completely dry before you apply any kind of cleaner or sealer. Then work from one corner of the room to another, applying evenly with a soft cloth or sponge mop so as not to leave streaks. As always, be careful around grout lines and do not let excess cleaner or sealant seep into them – this can cause damage over time if repeated too often. Also, take care not to allow any product to build up on your walls – a damp cloth should remove any residue easily enough.
If you are concerned about the possible dangers of applying grout sealer yourself, contact a professional for this task. Once the floor is clean and dry, you can apply your sealant. And that's it. You now have a shiny, sparkling-clean tile floor.
What not to do
Do not use vinegar on marble floors
The high acid content may damage them. Vinegar is an effective cleaner, but there are some surfaces that it shouldn't be used on. Marble floors, for example, could be damaged by high levels of acidity in vinegar because they are very delicate materials.
A solution made with vinegar might also discolor limestone tiles if left sitting too long before being wiped up or mopped away. You should also avoid using a high concentration of vinegar on wood or linoleum floors. These surfaces could become damaged if their natural oils are stripped away.
Do not use oil soap on travertine floors
Oil soaps used to clean marble and other stone tiles might make them look shiny initially, but they can dull the finish over time and cause staining problems because the surface becomes much more porous. The best way to clean travertine is to choose a cleaner that is free of harsh chemicals that will strip its natural shine. Natural, plant-based cleaners like those made with sugar cane and coconut oil are safe for this material and work well without causing damage. Alternatively, you can use a cleaner especially made for travertine.
Do not use ammonia on stone floors
Although ammonia is an effective cleaner, it's also highly corrosive to stone surfaces. Because of this, avoid using it at all costs when cleaning any kind of marble or natural stone tile flooring. It should only be used to clean grout.
Do not use chlorine bleach on granite floors
Chlorine bleach is also corrosive to stone surfaces like granite, so it's best to avoid using it on your granite flooring. Use an agent that won't harm or discolor the material instead. For deeper cleaning and a more thorough disinfection process, you might want to consider hiring a professional cleaner who uses special equipment and products designed for this purpose.
Do not use acidic cleaners on travertine floors
Travertine is a porous material, so the safest way to remove tough stains and grime from it is with mild organic cleaners like vinegar. However, you should avoid cleaning travertine with more acidic materials as they can etch or cause damage to some natural stones over time. Also, avoid using products that contain bleach on travertine as these have been known to discolor this type of stone flooring.
Cleaning other types of floors
How to clean vinyl floors
Cleaning vinyl floors is relatively simple as they don't require a lot of effort to maintain. For day-to-day cleaning, simply sweep or vacuum the floor regularly and mop it clean with a mild cleaner once a week. You can use vinegar or lemon juice diluted in water for this purpose if you want to avoid chemical cleaners that might leave behind an adhesive residue. If the floor has been exposed to something particularly sticky or oily, you can use a stronger cleaner designed for vinyl surfaces. Be sure to test any cleaner on a small patch of the floor first before applying it more liberally so you don't damage your vinyl tile.
How to clean marble floors
One of the best ways to clean marble floors is with a mixture of equal parts white vinegar, water, and ammonia. You can apply this mixture with a sponge or mop after you have swept up any debris. The ammonia in this cleaner will kill most germs on contact while the vinegar works to dissolve dirt particles that are stuck to your flooring. Be sure to wipe down your floors often and dry them thoroughly because moisture can cause mold and mildew to form if leftover time. This could discolor and damage your stone tiles and grout lines.
Final thoughts on how to clean tile floors
Tile flooring is resilient and can take some serious punishment. However, regular cleaning and maintenance will ensure that your floors stay in their best condition for longer. You can clean tile floors with a simple mixture of vinegar and water, or you may wish to use more expensive commercial products.
Irrespective of which method you use, you will require the right tools to ensure that your tile floors are clean and dry so they can be walked on safely. If there are any stains or marks that cannot be removed using natural cleaning solutions, then you may wish to consult a professional cleaner.
Keep the tips in this article in mind next time you want to know how to clean tile floors.