And, if not, there’s always the option of hiring a service to clean it for you – and sealing it, too. Either way, though, do take the time and seal your tile after cleaning. Check with your local tile company or home center for sealants or for help with sealing. Sealing it is the only way you can ensure the grout in your tile floors looks good for a long, long time.
Tile floors are wonderful. They’re easy to keep clean, they’re durable and tough, and they look good for a long, long time. There is only one drawback: grout. In short, grout is tile’s Achilles heel. When tile floors don’t look good it’s usually because the grout has become stained. So, can you revive your grout once it’s gone bad? Sure, you can.
Most of the time grout becomes stained because it was either not properly sealed with a grout sealant when the tile was put down or because the sealant has worn off with time. Often tile is set and no seal is ever applied. Many homeowners are also unaware that grout needs to be sealed. Fortunately, there are some new grouts with sealant already in the mix, eliminating the need for the very tedious job of sealing the grout once the tile is set.
If your floors look dirty because the tile grout is stained, you have some cleaning options. The first option is to clean the tile yourself by damp mopping with a bleach alternative, such as Oxiclean. Make a solution of two gallons of hot water with one cup of oxygen powder.
Make sure the powder dissolves completely and then mop as usual. I like this option because oxygen bleaches don’t have fumes like chlorine bleach does and they aren’t as risky with carpeting, fabrics, or pets. If that doesn’t work, apply the mix with a long-handled plastic bristle deck brush. The extra brushing action will often do the job without making you get on your hands and knees to scrub.
Bleach with caution
If the grout still looks dirty, try wet mopping with chlorine bleach. Make a solution of two gallons of hot water and one tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Add one cup of liquid bleach and mix. Mop the floors with the bleach solution being very careful not to get any of the solution on carpeting or fabrics.
If your grout still looks bad, this brings us to the second option: professional cleaning. Because many people have built houses in the past ten years and are using more tile, and because more and more tile goes unsealed, the need for grout cleaning has become clear. Luckily some carpet cleaning services, such as Stanley Steemer, now offer tile grout cleaning in addition to regular carpet cleaning services. They can also add a sealant during the cleaning process that will help keep your grout clean for a longer time.
Once you’ve gotten the grout looking good again, it’s worth it to take steps to keep the grout from getting dirty again. This would include sealing the grout with a sealer (available at your home center and tile stores) and placing area rugs at areas such as entryways, hallways, sinks, stoves, bathrooms and anywhere there’s a lot of traffic and opportunity for dirt.
Tile floors are wonderfully convenient and easy to maintain. A quick sweep and they’re clean. But, when the grout gets dirty, tile floors get ugly. Try the cleaning steps above and see if you don’t notice a difference in the way your grout looks.