Cleaning Tile Floor
DEAR TIM: Cleaning a tile floor is my next big project. The grout lines are filthy, and I’ve not discovered an easy way to restore the tile.
Is there a magic product that will clean floor tile? Once they are clean, what’s the easiest way to keep the floor grout clean? Should I invest in one of the tile floor cleaning machines? Michelle S., Corvallis, OR
DEAR MICHELLE: Cleaning tile floors used to be a nightmare for me, as we had a boatload of them in our last home. To make it worse, we had brilliant white floor tile with light-gray grout in our kitchen and breakfast area. I knew when I was installing each piece that it was going to be a challenge to keep it clean. Add to the mix three small kids and soon the grout around the refrigerator, stove and kitchen sink was nearly black.
It took me years to discover how to clean tile floors the easy way, and one that didn’t harm my family, pets and the colored grout. Little did I know that I was way ahead of the current Green Movement, as the solution I made was perhaps one of the most eco-friendly products out there. I experimented with different products, but finally settled on using powdered oxygen bleach.
Oxygen bleach is non-toxic, doesn’t produce harsh fumes, is color safe and fabric safe. It removes all food and grease stains with no or minimal scrubbing. The oxygen ions in the solution attack the stain molecules breaking them into pieces that rinse away with little effort. I was so impressed with this product I started to create my own formulation, that I trademarked as Stain Solver, and still use to this day.
To clean floor tiles, all you need to do is mix my Stain Solver powder, or any high-quality oxygen bleach, with warm water. You stir it until it dissolves. The next step is to pour the solution onto the floor tile so the grout lines are flooded with the solution as if you had spilled a glass of water. It’s best to apply the oxygen-bleach solution to dry grout so the solution soaks deeply into the grout. You let the solution sit on the grout for at least 15 minutes, allowing the oxygen bleach to work on its own. If it completely soaks into the grout, you add more solution making sure there is always plenty of the cleaning liquid on the grout.
Cleaning floor tile grout doesn’t have to be a battle. The longer you let the solution sit on the grout, the less work you have to do cleaning tile flooring. You can let the solution sit on the grout for hours, as the oxygen ions work for up to six hours. To get maximum cleaning results, it helps to scrub the grout lightly after 30 minutes. Always pour new solution onto the grout as you scrub. Most of my friends who have used my secret Stain Solver powder for cleaning floor tile get perfect results within a half an hour.
My stuff is as close to magic as you can get. It will remove red wine stains in minutes. Beet juice is not a problem. I’ve not discovered one stain it can’t remove. Friends have tried the tile cleaning machines, but they say my Stain Solver oxygen bleach does a much better job. You have to always scrub a little, but that’s how anything gets clean. Mechanical agitation of any surface is almost always necessary. You rub your skin when you shower, clothes rub against each other in the washing machine, and you rub a sponge across your car when you clean it. It’s just the best way to clean things.
Once you have clean floor tiles, you can keep the grout looking like new by just adding Stain Solver oxygen bleach powder to your mop water. Apply a liberal amount of mop water to the floor scrubbing the tile surface with the mop. But leave the mop water in the grout joints without rinsing the floor. The oxygen ions clean the light dirt in the grout without scrubbing. Come back 30 minutes later, and rinse the floor with clean water. If you do this each time when cleaning your tile floor, you’ll never be on your hands and knees again with a scrub brush.
The best thing I discovered about my Stain Solver oxygen bleach is that it’s an all-purpose emergency cleaner. In the past, I freaked out if one of my kids spilled grape juice or cranberry juice on the floor. But now I just shrug my shoulders and wipe up the spill. After we’re finished with the meal and people are relaxing, I mix up a little bit of the solution and pour it on the freshly stained grout. Within minutes the grout looks like new with no scrubbing. It’s always best to work on stains while they’re fresh if at all possible. But tile floors that have been dirty for years will come clean in no time if you use Stain Solver oxygen bleach.
Cleaning floor tile grout makes most people grimace. I clearly remember scrubbing and scrubbing seeing little improvement. That’s why years ago I gave up and threw in the towel, just letting the grout get dirtier. When I used the oxygen bleach for the first time, I couldn’t believe it. After soaking on the grout by itself, much of the grime and stains came up with little effort. A second soaking and a little scrubbing in the worst areas made the grout look like the day I installed it.
Some tile floors are installed adjacent to carpeting. If the Stain Solver oxygen-bleach solution gets onto the carpet, there will be no problems. It will actually clean the carpet. What you may discover is that you have to clean the carpet as there is often a dirt pathway from the tile onto the carpet. To clean carpeting with oxygen bleach, you simply mix up the solution and use a sprayer to saturate the carpet fibers. Let the solution soak for 30 minutes, and then use a regular carpet shampoo machine to finish the job.