Basic Tile and Grout Care Tips Tile Countertops It is never recommended to use any general cleaners on tile and grout that are not specifically formulated for these surfaces. Such cleaners can break down the sealer, thereby removing its protective properties and making the tile and grout susceptible to stains. Worse yet, many cleaning products, including those that contain lemon, vinegar, bleach or ammonia, can etch away the polish, discolor the surface, or even scratch your tile. Apply an approved cleaner with a clean soft cloth for best results. Too much cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks. After washing the soap solution off, rinse the surface thoroughly and dry it with a soft cloth. Be sure not to use scouring powders, creams or bristle brushes; these products contain abrasives that may scratch the surface of your countertop. Tile Floors The first step for maintaining tile floors is to dust mop them frequently, using a clean, non- treated, dry dust mop or vacuum. The purpose of regular mopping is to remove sand, dirt, and grit, which, due to their abrasiveness, do the most damage to tile surfaces. Mats or area rugs placed in entry areas will help to catch the sand, dirt, and grit that is most likely to scratch a tile floor. If a mat or rug is used, be sure that the underside of the item is a non-slip surface. It is highly recommended you use a cleaner that is formulated for tile floors. Using the wrong cleaner can result in build-up and slippery surfaces. Mix your tile and grout cleaning product with water. Following the instructions on the bottle, apply, let stand for 3-5 minutes, then mop it up. Be sure to rinse your floors with clean water when done, then dry with a mop and wipe clean with a clean cloth. Be sure not to use scouring powders, creams or bristle brushes on your tile floors. These products contain abrasives that may scratch the surface. Tile Bathroom and Other Wet Areas Soap scum on tile surfaces can be minimized by using a squeegee after each shower and counter use. To remove this residue, use a non-acidic soap scum remover or a solution of ammonia and water (about 1/2 cup ammonia to a gallon of water). Be aware that frequent or over-use of an ammonia solution may eventually dull the surface of the tile. Open a window or run the exhaust fan for 10-20 minutes after a shower to quickly pull humidity and moisture out of the room and help prevent mold growth on the grout. *Note about Chelating Agents This is an ingredient found in most store bought cleaners. It dissolves mineral deposits in hard water to allow the product to work easier and better. Since ceramic and porcelain tile is made up of minerals, most store bought cleaners will eventually streak and dissolve any stone on which it is used. Seal For Success Sealing your grout is a must because grout is porous, allowing it to trap dirt and become a breeding ground for bacteria, mold and fungus. Not only does grout sealant protect the grout, it helps keep you and your family healthy. Professionals recommend you seal your mid to high-traffic areas no less than once per year. It is best to schedule that service after a deep cleaning of the tile and grout. For low traffic areas, resealing every 4-5 years is enough. There are 3 types of Sealers Coating Sealers are a thin layer on the grout surface that does not allow oil, water or dirt to penetrate the grout pores. There are 2 coating sealers available: permanent and strippable. Permanent Coatings are difficult to remove. They are made of epoxies, polyurethanes and other materials. Because they are so difficult to remove, this type is not always recommended. Strippable Coatings are made of styrene, acrylics, polyethylene and other polymers and are easier to remove. Most are water based. Color Sealers bond to the grout, filling the pores while keeping the same look and texture of the original grout. Color sealers allow you to change the grout from dark to light or light to dark. Penetrating Sealers are made to penetrate the grout and deposit particles that will protect the grout; preventing water and dirt from soaking deep and leaving stains or bacteria. These types of sealers mostly contain silane, siloxane, silicone, or some other silicon derivative.