Kitchen tile is beautiful, and it does a good job of holding its appearance–but keeping it looking good can be a challenge. Tile dulls easily and requires very regular maintenance to maintain its best appearance. Tile grout is one of the most commonly neglected cleaning chores, mostly because people think it can be hard to clean. The good news is that can be easier than you think to keep both grouted and tiled surfaces looking good, and we have some advice on how to keep the task from taking up your whole day.
Cleaning the Tile
Let’s start with the easier part: cleaning the tile. For starters, preventive maintenance is the key to keeping tile looking great. They do a great job of repelling dirt, but when dirt comes in contact with them, the abrasives in the dirt can dull or scratch the tile. For this reason, regular sweeping and vacuuming is your first, best line of defense in protecting it.
Tiles also need regular cleaning with a mild detergent and water. A soft cloth works well on back-splashes and wall tile. For floors, avoid sponge mops as they can be abrasive and catch particles that can scratch the tile. A chamois-style mop is the best for this task. Change the water often if you are cleaning a large area. Dirty water will yield dull tile.
Cleaning the Grout
The grout is what really makes the tile look great. The secret to cleaning most tile grout is to steer clear of commercial cleaners. Grout is porous. It holds on to dirt and it stains very easily. Most cleaners will only clean the surface; you need to get under it. Make a paste of baking soda and water. Use a narrow nylon brush to scrub the grout but be careful not to scrub the tile as the paste will dull the edges. Clean up the excess with a soft, damp cloth.
It is important to note that while some people swear that an old toothbrush is your best friend when it comes to cleaning grout, even a firm toothbrush is too soft to deal with it. It is equally important that you not use a wire brush for the opposite reason: a wire brush is simply too hard and could break up or otherwise damage the grout.
Cleaning Stained Grout
For stubborn stains, add in a small amount of bleach and rub in the paste. Let it sit overnight and clean it the next day. Repeat the process until the stain disappears. You can actually skip the bleach if you are concerned about the tile. It will still work but it will take more applications.
If you do decide to use a commercial cleaner, it is recommended that you first clean a small, inconspicuous area and determine whether or not it will prove safe to use on your entire floor. You might also consider wearing protective gloves and goggles since the cleaning brush can cause spattering and many commercial floor cleaners are at least mildly caustic.