Stone tiles are understandably one of the most popular choices among homeowners. Tiles are extremely versatile because they provide an attractive option for floors, showers, countertops, and more. Stone tiles comes in a wide variety of colors, shades, patterns, and sizes, so they can make a beautiful addition to almost any type of interior design, from midcentury modern to farmhouse chic. Ideally, homeowners take the time to learn how to clean natural stone. However, while cleaning stone tiles, some people forget to clean the grout between them. Those who do remember to clean the grout may not know it’s necessary to use a specially formulated grout cleaner, and they may make several mistakes that can damage the grout or even the tile itself. To prevent various types of costly damage, knowing how to clean your tile isn’t enough—it’s also essential to know how to clean grout properly. Below are some of the things you should avoid using when cleaning grout.
TOO MUCH WATER
To some people, water is synonymous with cleanliness, and they think using a lot of water when cleaning is a good strategy for natural-stone care. This might be true in some instances, but it doesn’t apply to grout cleaning because grout is very porous, and using a lot of water when cleaning can be detrimental to its structural integrity. Using too much water can cause grout to disintegrate. The water can also get trapped under the tiles, which could weaken the adhesive underneath the tile and lead to the development of mildew and mold, posing health hazards for your family.
HARSH CHEMICALS INSTEAD OF GROUT CLEANER
When installing tiles in their homes, people want them to last for a long time. However, there are some mistakes homeowners make that can shorten the life span of tiles and grout, and one of these errors is using harsh chemicals when cleaning their tile. Over time, harsh chemicals can damage tile, so when you’re cleaning yours, it’s always best to use a product made specifically for use on your particular type of tile, such as a granite stone and tile floor cleaner. The same principle applies when you’re cleaning the grout between your tiles. Harsh chemicals drastically reduce the life span and durability of grout, so you should use a specially formulated grout cleaner such as Granite Gold Grout Cleaner®.
Some homeowners also use colored chemicals when cleaning grout on their floors and countertops, which is a bad idea because it could change the color of the grout. Since grout is a porous material, it’ll absorb just about any liquid you apply to it, which means colored chemicals will cause discoloration and long-term damage.
Also, you should never use pure bleach on dark-colored grout because it can oxidize the grout over time. Many people who haven’t been shown how to disinfect granite and natural stone think bleach is the only way to do it, but that simply isn’t the case. One of the primary reasons to clean your grout is to prevent mold growth, and while you might think using bleach is the best way to do that, it isn’t. Bleach does nothing to kill mold—all it does is bleach it!
If you do still want to use bleach, you can dilute it with water and use it on the grout in your showers once a month. Simply apply the 50/50 mixture, scrub, and rinse. Bleach is very corrosive to metal, so make sure to avoid getting the mixture on any nearby metal fixtures. It can also damage the protective coatings on other materials such as porcelain tile and finished wood. If you have colored grout and you’re in doubt about what you should use to clean it, it’s best to use a grout cleaner that’s specially formulated to clean all types and colors of grout.
When cleaning grout, some people choose to use coarse scrubbers, thinking they’ll work more efficiently. However, rough scrubbers aren’t good for cleaning grout because they can damage both the grout and the tiles. Instead of using a coarse scrubber, you should opt for a pad that’s safe to use on stone, such as a granite cleaning pad or a nylon brush. The smartest thing to do before you clean your tiles is to do a bit of research on how to clean granite countertops and other natural-stone surfaces as well as how to clean grout
Most people don’t check to see what’s in their cleaners, which often leads them to buy cleaners with harmful ingredients. For instance, some cleaners contain a high pH or are acidic, which will only make your grout fragile or more porous. Weak grout will resoil faster, and you’ll be back to the cleaning process sooner than expected.
Don’t use vinegar or acid-based cleaners on grout. Grout is composed of cementitious mortar, which can be dissolved by acidic cleaners such as vinegar. Straight vinegar or another stronger acid will dissolve the top layer of the grout, so even if dirt and stains are removed, part of the grout is too, which means you’ll need to regrout sooner. Vinegar and similar acids are also bad for stone tile because acid can cause etching in the stone. In addition, don’t use cleaners that are oil-based or wax-based, because the grout will absorb the soap, leaving a film that’s sticky and will simply attract more dirt.
Most people know it’s important to seal their stone tiles with a high-quality product such as a granite sealer, but not everyone is aware it’s essential to seal grout as well to protect it from dirt buildup and staining. After cleaning your grout with an appropriate grout cleaner, you should also use a grout sealer on all the porous surfaces so you’ll have an easier time cleaning the grout in the future. Grout sealer adds a layer of protection that makes your grout waterproof so it repels moisture, which prevents bacteria, germs, and dirt from sticking to the grout. Sealing your grout preserves its look and texture while preventing mildew and mold.
In addition to cleaning the grout in between the stone tiles, it’s also crucial to keep the actual stone clean. Make sure to avoid using common household cleaners on stone. Instead, you should opt for a specially formulated granite countertop cleaner. At Granite Gold®, we offer Granite Gold Daily Cleaner® as well as various other products that can help you maintain the beauty and durability of all the natural stone in your home. Reach out to us today at 1-800-475-STONE (7866) to learn more.