Natural stones such as marble (travertine and carrara etc). and granite are porous and usually need more cleaning and maintenance. They are damaged by cleaners that are acidic (toilet bowl cleaners, clr, bleach and vinegar to name a few). It’s important to clean them with ph neutral or stone safe cleaners and seal them periodically. How often depends on how much the surface is used (1st floor areas such as foyers, entries and kitchens are the highest, baths are usually less accept countertops and showers.
Ceramic or porcelain tiles are made to be non-porous so they don’t need sealing (grout still will) and are great in wet and dry areas of the home alike. They are more chemical resistant so you can use stronger cleaners if needed and they won’t etch or scratch as easily. Downside is they are hard to fix if something happens to them.
Grout is notoriously the hardest part to keep clean because it’s more porous than the tile, stains easily and has a gritty texture that like to collect soiling and is hard and sometimes impossible to wipe clean.
- Always dust or vacuum the floor first to remove dry soiling.
- Apply a stone or porcelain safe cleaner to the surface in a spray bottle or spray mop
- You may need to scrub the grout lines separately with a grout brush (found in most hardware stores) first to loosen soiling.
- Scrub the surface of the tile with a mop or microfiber pad until all visible residue is gone.
- You may need to rinse the mop or microfiber pad during the process when it becomes saturated.
This is a good procedure to use with light soiling but eventually the tile and grout can buildup soiling in a way that deeper professional cleaning is needed..
Also sealing is recommended from time to time for the grout and tile if it’s a natural stone. Sealing is best to do after a deep cleaning when the surface is perfectly clean. There is no guaranteed time period your stone or grout will need sealing so many suggest every couple of year. It’s really as needed so if they are gone you may need it immediately and if they are intact you could wait more indefinitely. Tips:
- All stone cleaners are safe to clean porcelain or ceramic but not all porcelain or ceramic cleaners are safe to clean stone. Stone safe cleaners are usually ph neutral and some cleaners safe for porcelain are acidic and can etch stones and ruin seals. Even vinegar and bleach will do this in high concentrations and using them on a porcelain floor.
- Many everyday cleaners are ph neutral soaps and can be applied and mopped off without rinsing saving you a lot of time. However the more aggressive or highly concentrated cleaners will leave a residue that needs that requires an extra rinsing step.
- Small floor machines that have a scrubbing brush and apply a rinse and vacuum it up are more effective and can make a larger project go fast. An example of one is the Hoover floor mate. You may still need to use a grout brush to scrub the grout lines if they are further below the surface than the machine’s brush tool.
- Topical sealers for grout (like a paint for grout) can be used to perfect any staining and seal the grout. They are also great at making the grout easier to clean.
- Some topical sealers for stone can make the stone more chemical resistant and reduce the chances of etching which can be fixed with polishing processes. Both are available professional services but harder to do yourself.