Ceramic, stone and porcelain tiles provide attractive, low-maintenance options for flooring, kitchen backsplashes and countertops and bathroom vanities and shower stalls. The grout used to seal tiles is a cement and sand mixture that is highly porous and prone to accumulating dirt and stains. Even with regular cleaning, it may retain stains and grime. Alkaline or acidic grout and tile cleaners applied occasionally deep clean tiles and restore them to their original color. These cleaners remove the sealer, which will then need to be re-applied to protect both the grout and the tiles.
For general cleaning, use a mild all-purpose cleaner or pH neutral tile and grout cleaner diluted in warm water. Chlorine bleach and acidic cleaners, such as vinegar may lighten or discolor grout if used regularly. For an inexpensive, homemade solution, mix three cups baking soda with one cup water to form a thick paste, advises the Michigan State University Extension. Apply the paste to the grout with a soft cloth and scrub gently. Rinse to remove the paste.
Dirt, Grease and Grime
For heavy dirt, grease and grime, use an alkaline tile and grout cleaner, such as Klenzall, advises the North American Tile Cleaning Organization. Most household dirt is acidic in nature. Alkaline cleaners react with the acid in the grime, emulsifying it so it can be rinsed away. Wear rubber gloves when using the cleanser and wash off any product that comes in contact with skin with warm water.
Use an acidic tile and grout cleaner, such as Stonetech Restore acidic cleaner to remove wine, urine, mustard or food-coloring stains from grout, advises the North American Tile Cleaning Association. Acidic cleaners are safe for use on porcelain tile floors but may etch stone flooring.
Water-based sealers generally have fewer fumes than solvent-based sealers and are suitable for porcelain or ceramic tiles. Solvent-based sealers penetrate further into the material and are recommended for stone tiles. They are also somewhat easier to apply and clean up than water-based sealers. A sealer that is made for sealing both stone and grout generally is a better quality product than one just made for sealing grout, according to the National Tile Cleaning Association.