ceramic tile, marble, and granite

care tips

Ceramic Tile Care Tips

Ceramic tiles are inorganic, non-metallic materials that have been subjected to heat treatment to harden for long lasting use. Ceramic tile is made out of clay that contains a large amount of silicates.

Tile may be purchased glazed or unglazed. Glazed tile will be much easier to keep clean. Be sure and seal the mortar between tiles. Regularly vacuum the floors and occasionally damp mop floors with plain water to remove soil. Sometimes for heavier soil you might need to use a mild detergent solution. When using mild detergent solution, be sure and rinse the floors well, and wipe them dry for a better shine.

The best and easiest way to clean a ceramic tile floor is to scrub it with an electric floor washer or polisher scrubber. The thorough cleaning action will brighten the tile for a new look. Use a solution of 1/4 cup low-sudsing detergent such as spic and span, or 1-2 tablespoons of either tri sodium phosphate or commercial floor cleaning powder in 1 gallon water. Neutral based cleaners are always the best. Be sure and rinse the floors thoroughly when you finish and get up all cleaning material. Be sure to never use acidic cleaners such as vinegar.

Sometimes further treatment will be needed, particularly for the grout. You can apply a solution of water and chlorine bleach (liquid or powdered). Let it stand for 20 minutes or so, then mop the floor, rinse thoroughly and wipe dry. Be sure to test first to check results.

Glazed tile should be treated like porcelain enamel because it will be easy to scratch: Avoid using harsh abrasive powders which will scratch the finish. Occasional bleaching will clean grout. There are a number of bathroom cleaners that are effective to clean tile. Be sure and follow directions on container.

To seal tile floors, place folded towels next to carpet areas adjoining tiled areas to absorb water. Using a scrub brush or large sponge and detergent, scrub the floor surface and rinse with clear water. Be sure any dirty wash water is completely removed from crevices. Be sure to allow the floor to dry thoroughly before walking on it.

You can purchase a tile and grout sealer at most tile distributors. It is a clear solution so it does not change the color of the tile or of the grout, but it will give some gloss to the surface. Paint the sealer on the dry tile or grout, being sure to cover all crevices and cracks. Let it dry and apply a second coat. Thereafter, apply one coat about every year to maintain the seal. The sealer makes cleaning easier with a damp mop. Some home owners prefer to use a wax instead of a sealer. You can experiment with a sample tile or on a spot on the floor that is in an inconspicuous corner. Some waxes leave a streaky finish.

Dingy grout between tiles can be brightened by scrubbing with hot suds, then apply a diluted solution of chlorine bleach. Repeat procedure, keeping tile wet 5 minutes.

Regular cleaning can be done with detergent and water, and rinsed; or commercial household cleaners or bathroom cleaners used according to label directions. Do not use scouring powders or other abrasives which can scratch the finish.

Special cleaning may be needed for ceramic tile in bathrooms if there is a buildup of: soap scum, a rough white coating, or mildew.

Remove soap scum by sponging with a mixture of 1-2 tablespoons tri sodium phosphate in 1 gallon hot water. Be sure and rinse.

Remove mildew by cleaning with a dilute solution of chlorine bleach in water, following label directions on bleach. Once again, it is very important to rinse. Some homeowners prefer to use a mildew killing household spray.

The rough white coating is a buildup of mineral from hard water (like you get in a teakettle). Dissolve it with a commercial tile cleaner and wipe off.

Occasionally a dark varnish like stain may build up in a tile shower that has not been cleaned regularly. It is a build-up of body oils and soap scum and very hard to remove. Cover the spot with full-strength liquid laundry detergent and let stand for a couple of hours. Then sponge with water. If it still doesn't all come off, leave detergent on longer and scrub with a brush. Don't use on porcelain enamel tubs or fiberglass or plastic surfaces as it may damage them.

Marble Care Tips

Marble is stone that is generally polished and used in fine building work. It may be white or colored. It is porous, and can be stained and can be etched by acids. Wipe off anything spilled on marble immediately, as you would on a wood surface. Avoid setting beverage glasses directly on marble as they leave rings. Seal the marble with paste or sealer to prevent stains and soil from being absorbed into the porous surface. Do not let acids contact the marble as they will etch it. Strong alkaline solutions are absorbed by the marble and break down the surface leaving it rough.

If well-sealed, damp-mopping should keep it clean. If soil does not all come off, wash with a solution of mild detergent (such as Liquid Dishwashing Detergents) and water, and rinse thoroughly. Remove stains promptly. Check with a local marble dealer for special cleaners if needed to remove stains.

Removing Stains From Marble

Make a poultice from white absorbent material such as a napkin, blotter, paper towel or facial tissue, dampened with the chemical recommended below to dissolve that stain; or mix whiting with that chemical to make a soft paste to cover the stain. The poultice should be left on the stain from 1 hour up to 48 hours, depending on the age and depth of the stain. Plastic wrap, held in place by masking tape, can be put over the poultice to keep it damp; otherwise it will have to be re-dampened with the chemical periodically. Mix only enough poultice for immediate use; mix a second batch later if another application is needed.

Organic Stains: Tea, coffee, colors bleached from paper, textiles or soft drinks. Make poultice soaked with 20% peroxide (hair bleaching strength) and a few drop of ammonia.

Oil Stains: Oil stains may include butter, hand cream or lotion. As soon as possible, spread surface with an absorbent fine powder such as whiting or even corn starch. After a short time brush to remove and reapply more powder.

Let stand 24 hours. To remove: Scrub with hot, sudsy (detergent) solution and stiff brush. Or wipe with ammonia-dampened cloth. In either case, then rinse and wipe dry. If these alkaline solutions don't remove all the oil, you can try a solvent. Make a poultice dampened with acetone or amyl acetate (available at drug stores), or with home dry cleaning fluid. Use good ventilation with windows open to remove fumes, do not use near spark or flame, and do not leave on too long.

Rust Stains: Usually the result of metal items such as a lamp, metal container in which plant is placed etc. Use a commercial rust stain remover. Follow directions exactly and do not leave on surface very long as acid in many rust removers can etch the surface. Acids Fruit juice, carbonated beverages or other acids will etch (remove shiny surface) if allowed to remain on marble. Wipe up acid spill immediately, and wipe surface with wet cloth. If surfaced is etched, polishing may be required.

Granite Care Tips

Unlike marble, granite is a relatively hard, non- porous, natural stone. It is relatively unaffected by most chemicals. However, I would not recommend harsh, caustic chemicals on it.

Here are some recommendations for routine care and cleaning:

Clean stone surfaces with a few drops of neutral cleaner, stone soap or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent and warm water. Use a clean rag for best results. Too much cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks.

Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids on the granite the high acid content may etch the surface. Rinse the surface thoroughly after washing with the soap solution and dry with a soft cloth. Change the rinse water frequently.

Do not use scouring powders or creams; these products contain abrasives that may scratch the surface.

Granite is virtually impervious to the temperatures in your kitchen; even a red-hot pan hot off the stove will not harm the stone. Fabricators regularly use propane torches with 1400-degree flames during the fabrication process without harming the stone. Granite is superior to every other countertop material in this regard including "engineered stones" which have epoxy resins that will be discolored by hot cooking containers.