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icsmag.com contributed to this article.
Our Challenge: A typical phone call from a prospective client, “I’ve only had this tile six months now and it looks horrible!” The term “horrible” is usually not referring to the tile, but is in reference to the dirty grout lines that surround the tile. The next two questions will usually be “How did it get this way?” and “How do I prevent it from happening again?” As a professional floor cleaner, I have to be able to answer these question most every day.
The soiling of grout lines does not generally happen overnight, it is a process that builds up over time. The amount of time it takes to soil grout lines is a direct reflection of the maintenance program in place. Initial maintenance for grout is usually done by the installer and consists of cleaning the grout off of the surface of the tile and sealing it with a penetrating sealer or impregnator. If this is done at the offset, then the grout lines have a much better chance of repelling moisture and soil right out of the gate.
The problem is this: When you use a one-pass mopping procedure, you are not removing the soil - you are only moving it from one place to another. Also, cleaning solution is left on the floor (especially microfiber application), which ultimately leads to the surfactant build-up becoming a soil attractant causing tacky floor syndrome. With the exception of spot mopping and damp mopping, which can be accomplished in one pass, all the other procedures will require a minimum of two passes and in some cases three or four, depending on the soiling condition. Correct mopping procedures are imperative to successful tile and grout floor maintenance.
Soil travels to the Lowest Point… Your Grout.
The effect is that every time the floor is wet-mopped, the soil is lifted off the floor and suspended in the solution. If it is not removed with a rinse mop or vacuum, it will settle right back down on the floor surface. To make it even worse, the contaminated solution seeks the path of least resistance and goes to the lowest point, which just so happens to be the porous grout line, and deposits soil and surfactant in the most difficult place to remove it from. Time and incorrect wet mopping causes soil to build up to where the grout lines turn black. Keep in mind that a mop is nothing more than a rag on a stick and if you don’t keep your mops clean, you will ultimately have a dirty rag on a stick, which will only contribute to soiling the floor more.
A method for reducing - and in some cases eliminating - this problem is in a periodic professional cleaning of the of your tile and grout flooring. The best method is using a powerful, pressurized spinning tool (pictured above) attached to a truckmount ( a powerful cleaning machine with a large engine mounted inside a van or truck). This method blows the soil out of the low areas up into the shroud for evacuation by the extractor. See this video clip to see how Cleancare of Boulder would clean your tile floor. This system is much like using a power washer inside your home. It blasts away filthy grime and sludge in your grout lines and makes them look new and fresh. And all that cruddy soil is vacuumed up into the power tool and out into the waiting recovery tank inside the truck outside your home.
When you use proper routine mopping techniques, the soiling conditions of your grout lines will improve. Before the grout lines succumb to heavy soiling and become black, incorporate one of the periodic service procedures to improve appearances. But if your grout lines eventually succumb to a soil and you can’t return them to their formerly attractive self, give us a call at Cleancare of Boulder, Ph.:303-530-0646. You really won’t believe your eyes!