What to do about “Tiles that just won’t stay clean.”
How often have you heard a customer complain that their tiles “just don’t stay clean.” They will claim they clean them but then the next day they look dirty again. “even though no-one has even walked in that area!”
Now tiles as you know are very easy to clean and maintain. Normally tiles require very little time and effort to keep clean: you should only need a bit of water and vinegar once a week.
On the other hand, some tiles will seem like they’re impossible to keep clean: they’re always either dirty, or they become dirty really quickly after cleaning. This is one of the more common complaints we hear, but despite customers complaining that there must be something wrong with the tile surface in reality it’s not a problem with the actual tiles, and is very easily fixed.
What’s the real cause?
- Grout haze. When tiles are laid and grouted, there will be some grout left on the surface of the tiles which should be removed. If not, a thin film of almost invisible grout remains hardened onto the tiles and traps dirt. The dirt can be washed away, but the grout film is very hard and remains. As soon as the tile is dry it will start picking up even airborne dust all over again.
- Soap scum. The other cause, ironically, is detergent. If detergent (or anything containing soap) is used to wash a floor, it needs to be rinsed thoroughly. A film of detergent “soap scum” can dry on the tiles and trap dirt. Continuing to wash with detergent can even make the problem worse. The layer of soap scum can build up to the point where the tiles actually appear to be going white. To test for detergent build-up like this is to pour a couple of tablespoons of water on a small area of the floor and scrub with a green scouring pad. If you can get suds to appear, the floor is soapy.
What’s the solution?
Both problems have the same simple solution: Clean the floor properly! A 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water and some elbow grease with a scouring sponge should do the trick. Alternatively a heavy duty tile & grout cleaner or a speciality grout haze remover, which is normally a mild acid formulation, may be necessary. These will remove both the grout residue an any detergent build-up. It is vital to follow the directions and most importantly to rinse thoroughly afterwards or you will have the same problem over again.