While tile and grout by nature of their interconnections must be cleaned together, they actually are two very different substances that are best treated in dissimilar manners. Commonly composed of porcelain or ceramic, tile is extremely durable, smooth, and water-resistant whereas grout, typically sanded cement-based, is irregular and porous. These disparate qualities are complicated further by the fact that grout is usually housed below the surface of the tile.
A tile’s appearance can be enhanced through a daily process of mopping with a water and soap-based solution. Unless the contents of the mop bucket are changed frequently so that clean water is always used, the tile may look clean but the soil will be simply redistributed to the porous grout – which is much more difficult to clean. Grout is best cleaned professionally using a multi-step process consisting of the following:
- Pre-spraying with a detergent to loosen the soil and enhance the appearance of the grout lines,
- Scrubbing the tile and grout with a rotary scrubber delivering 1200 psi of high-temperature water mixed with a starter detergent to accelerate soil release,
- Cleaning and neutralizing the surface with a pH balanced solution and clean water rinse to remove the residues from the cleaning agents and leave the tile floor free from chemical build-up that would otherwise leave a haze,
- Repairing, if necessary, all grout with a color matching sanded grout, and
- Sealing each grout line with a water-based sealer.
An important sidenote: very often grout lines are so dirty and they have been that way so long that property personnel thinks the darkened appearance is its natural color when in reality the discoloring is due to excessive dirt. One way to determine grout’s natural color is to compare a heavily trafficked area to a much less walked on one (such as in a corner of the room or under a loose carpet). You may be surprised at what you find!
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