For many people, knowing how much cleaning and maintenance work is required is a very big benefit. Tile and grout cleaning can be a very time consuming task, but for a lot of people, the beauty and benefit of having tile countertops or a tile backsplash in the kitchen make it all worth it. |
Cleaning tile and grout goes beyond vanity; the process actually helps to protect and preserve the tiles so they can last longer. Grout is that which protects tiles from deteriorating, especially due to mildew, moisture or grime. If the grout is not cleaned, the tile becomes vulnerable and will become easily damaged.
Regular mopping and spot tile and grout cleaning don't reach the hidden dirt that lies deep within the pores of your grout lines.
Why you need to scrub. Bleach is one of the most common substances used to "whiten" things, so you might be tempted to use it to whiten stained tile grout. While chlorine bleach does a great job of killing mold spores, simply spraying it on is not enough to break the mold growth triangle (water, food and temperature). Here's why bleach alone won't work: The "dirt" in your tile grout is behind a layer of soap scum, and this layer need not be thick and obvious. Keep in mind most of these cleaning reactions are taking place at a molecular level, and a layer of soap residue a thousandth of an inch thick can prevent the "bleach to dirt" contact.That's why physical scrubbing or the use of acidic chemicals (like the phosphoric acid found in toilet bowl cleaner) can break through this soap layer. One of the problems of using these harsh chemicals (aside from the environmental and skin contact issues) is the destructive effects to the grout itself. Grouts are cement-based and can be eroded by acidic compounds. Bleach is less destructive to the grout than phosphoric acid, but you'll need to scrub in order to for it to be effective. Since grout is a porous and rough surface, it tends to pose cleaning challenges that are not present on the surface of glazed tile or polished stone. Dirty-looking grout is usually a combination of dirt, mold and mildew. To be effectively cleaned, a combined attack is needed — one that reaches into the tiny pores of the grout and stops mildew at its source. If regrouting isn't for you, here are a few alternatives to bleach and corrosive chemicals:
Vinegar (a dilute acid). Baking soda (here a poultice is made for scrubbing). A combination of baking soda and vinegar (chemical scrubbing happens automatically). Calcium carbonate — a green option that will require some scrubbing). Borax (scrubbing required). Oxygen bleach powder. Steam cleaners (these use heat to your advantage).
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