Note: Slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of injury to the public and a principal cause of litigation against businesses today. Good maintenance procedures can reduce this obvious risk!
RULE #1 – If In Doubt, Don’t Apply Any Cleaner Or Cleaning Technique
Some mistakes can be irreversible, always check labels on the product you are thinking of using and test an inconspicuous area first to see what effects, if any, your cleaning process will have.
Tile Doctor Tip: It’s an old tale about using vinegar and water to clean tile, even if this sometimes works, in many cases you can permanently damage grout color and possibly hurt your tiles. Additionally, tiles that are slip resistant can become slippery with a lack of proper and regular maintenance. Grease, grime and dirt build-up on the tiles surfaces and cause a higher likelihood of a slip and fall accident.
For further information on this topic refer to the General Information Section “How to Shop” (key word COF: COEFFICIENT OF FRICTION (ASTM C 1028)).
Best method for cleaning tiles with colored grouts (floor or wall tile):
Note: The first step in maintenance is the sealing of the tile (if necessary) and the grout (if necessary). Generally, glazed tile requires no sealer. Some unglazed tile requires no sealer. Know the type of tile you are installing. Test it with a small amount of water. If the surface darkens, it absorbs water and needs to be sealed.
Generally, cementitious grouts require sealing while specialty grouts like epoxy and furans do not. If the grout darkens with water, it needs a sealer.
Immediately wipe up spills and messes. Use pH balanced cleaners and soap less detergents for daily cleaning. Agitate grout joints with a soft bristled brush to loosen debris. Thoroughly rinse, dry, and polish cleaned areas.
Acidic cleaners will eventually erode the grout in the joints making cleaning and maintenance more and more problematic. This is especially true if using acid cleaners on sanded grout installations.
This is due to the tendency of acid cleaners to eat away at the smaller aggregates first leaving the larger stain attracting aggregates behind.
Colored grout pigment can be permanently damaged by using acidic cleaners. This is especially true if used on a daily basis.
Heavy duty cleaning:
Again try to solve the heavy duty cleaning needs with pH balanced cleaners. These can include scouring cleaners and poultices manufactured for this purpose. Be sure to take advantage of a soft bristled brush to agitate the cleaners in the grout joints.
A good practice is to allow the cleaner to rest upon the surface to gain the full potential of the cleaner.
If these results are not acceptable, then proceed to the more aggressive high alkaline “heavy duty” or “deep clean” type cleaners available from good Manufacturers.
Commercial floor buffers or cleaning machines are perfectly suited to large areas of tile and grout. The biggest question here is the selection of the cleaning solution.
Again, it is very important to rinse the tile and grout thoroughly to remove any remaining cleaner.
If the result are not satisfactory using the PH balanced cleaners, it may be necessary to use a acidic solution to solve a particular problem.
Sulfamic and phosphoric acids are the safest and most used acids used in solving tile and grout cleaning problems. These two acids have very specific mixing and application recommendations that must be followed to the letter.
Regardless, thoroughly rinse the cleaned area, dry, and polish.
Tile Doctor Tip: Following an intense deep cleaning, especially if an acid was used, a good practice is to reseal the affected grout areas.
Grout haze is grout residue left on the tile face. Many times this haze can be cleaned off by simply using a scouring pad and water. The next progression would be a scouring cleanser or poultice and pad. The next progressive step would be grout haze removal solution available from fine Manufacturers. As final step, an acid solution may be required.