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Cleaning Tile & Grout: Equipment & Tips

When cleaning tiled surfaces, you need to match the tile type to the cleaning machine. Commercial establishments, like restaurants, that need slip-resistant floors, often choose porous tiles made of travertine and limestone. However, the same establishment may have glossy, non-porous tiles in its bathrooms. Though grout is found between porous and non-porous tiles, it is generally treated as a porous surface just like concrete.

Choose the Right Equipment

For cleaning commercial facilities with both porous and non-porous surfaces and lots of grease and oil, one type of system does the best job: A heated hard surface/spinning machine. The machines combine an extraction unit with low-pressure, steam pressure washer and a multi-surface spinning attachment. The machines clean and extract the residue at the same time to maximize productivity.

The systems offer steam heat of up to 330ºF, high pressure levels up to 3000 psi and include extraction, which means there's little water waste. Consider pre-spraying a non-toxic degreaser prior to using any hard surface cleaning machine. Some steam pressure washers configured with these systems can be used independently by replacing the rotary spinner head with a pressure washer wand to clean and degrease dumpsters, walls, concrete, and even remove chewing gum from hard surfaces.

Self-contained floor and hard surface cleaners that accept hot water up to 210ºF also work well on kitchen and bathroom floors, but may take more time to clean than machines configured with steam pressure washers.

If grease is less of an issue and you also need to clean soft surfaces like carpets and upholstery, consider a self-contained floor and hard surface cleaners. This equipment bundles a pressure and extraction unit with a multi-surface spinning attachment. The machines can generate pressure levels of up to 1500 psi, which is completely safe on grout. (An optional cleaning wand is required to clean soft surfaces like carpet or upholstery.)

Both types of hard surface cleaners listed above support an optional wall-cleaning system.

Steam pressure washers also clean porous and non-porous tile, as well as grout when the steam wand is aimed directly at the floor surface. These products do not have extractions features, so having drainage is a necessity. Pressure levels ranging from 1000 to 1500 psi is suggested. Pressure levels exceeding 1500 psi can destroy grout.

For cleaning grout and non-porous (glossy or semi-glossy) tiles, steam cleaners offer another option. For commercial facilities with heavy traffic, consider a vapor steam cleaner, which generates vapor containing only about 5% water, with a vacuum capability. The vacuum feature saves the operator from having to manually wipe up moisture created during the cleaning process.

Vapor steam cleaners' water consumption is rated in liters per hour (lpm) versus gallons per minute (gpm) for pressure washers. Dry steam cleaners are ideal for applications for which water flow is a concern, such as within homes or offices. Dry steam requires direct contact with surfaces and lacks the cleaning power necessary to clean and degrease factory equipment.

Grout Cleaning Tricks

1) If you're cleaning grout lines with a steam cleaner, first pre-spray the grout with a non-toxic tile and grout cleaning chemical, let the chemical sit for up to fifteen minutes, and glide a small nylon detail brush along the grout surface first to loosen the dirt. Wipe up immediately using a microfiber or other towel as desired. For more stubborn build-up gently use a metal brush. If your steam cleaner has a vacuum, use a vacuum/lance tool with extraction.

2) For large tiled areas with grout, use a tile and grout cleaning chemical. Pre-spray the area to be cleaned and allow it to dwell for up to fifteen minutes. Daimer's non-toxic, plant-based Eco-Green® Tile & Grout Cleaner requires 5 to 10 minutes of dwell time

3) For hardened soap scum, apply specialty product, like Eco-Green® Tile & Grout Cleaner, as described above, then clean.

4) Grout needs to be sealed regularly -- a standard sealing application will last up to two years. To test the seal, sprinkle water on the surface to see if it beads up.

Related Articles on Daimer.com

Buyer's Guide to Hard-Surface Cleaners

Buyer's Guide to Steam Cleaners

Ecologically-Friendly Tile and Grout Cleaning Solution


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