Luckily, she uploaded a high-resolution photo of her tile floor via my AsktheBuilder.com Ask Tim page. That image allowed me to focus on what I thought was the source of the problem.
Sarah’s riddle reminded me of a controversial email exchange with another reader about 10 years ago. That memory made me think long and hard about how to respond to Sarah. You see, all those years ago another reader claimed I destroyed her tile floor.
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Years ago, this woman purchased an oxygen bleach cleaner on my website. It is the most powerful oxygen bleach cleaner you can buy. She used it to clean her wooden deck. For whatever reason, she took off her shoes while cleaning the roof and saturated his socks with the cleaning solution. Then she went home with wet feet on her tiled floor.
This cleaning solution was so strong that it could be cleaned without scrubbing. This is what happened when the woman traced the solution across her kitchen floor. When the solution dried, her footprints were clearly visible. My solution etched and destroyed her tiles, she insisted. She didn’t take it very kindly when I suggested her kitchen floor might need a thorough cleaning.
Fortunately, she had a pantry with the same tile floor. She suggested that if she went into the corners of the pantry where no one had ever walked, she would see the original color of the tiles. I never heard from her
Based on the picture Sarah sent, it looks like she or the person in charge of cleaning the bathroom isn’t doing it right. Tell me how am I supposed to convey that! Most people I know will react to my nostrils. But I digress.
When I looked at Sarah’s photo, I could clearly see small specks of dirt that were clinging to the plaster. Sarah asked me in her email if the wrong plaster was used. The answer was not at all. The tile-setter appears to have used sanded grout. Once I zoomed in, I could clearly see what appeared to be tiny grains of milky silica sand. The silica sand makes the grout very strong and durable.
What often happens is that the tile setter hits the grout joints with the grout sponge and removes too much grout. The top surface of the grout is now below the top surface of the tiles.
Cleaning, like many other tasks, requires using the correct tool for the job. In Sarah’s case, the janitor may be using the worst possible tool. For example, a scouring sponge or pad of some sort may have been used within the past six months. It often cannot apply enough mechanical agitation to the grout to dislodge small pieces of dirt and grit from the grout.
The best tool for cleaning grout is a stiff scrub brush with nylon bristles. These bristles should be stiff enough that they don’t flop like a toothbrush. They need a small amount of flexing them as you move the brush across the grout.
Furthermore, cleaning strokes must be parallel to the grout lines to be effective. If you run the brush across grout lines at a 90-degree angle, the bristles may not reach the grout surface with enough pressure to clean effectively.
The type of tile Sarah chose is the hardest to clean. Each small 1-inch piece of tile has six sides, each oriented at a 60-degree angle to each other! Imagine trying to orient the scrub brush so that the strokes are parallel to all of the grout joints.
You may have learned to use a circular cleaning motion to clean floors. This works well when the ground surface is level and smooth. Convenient grout lines are the bane of most professional cleaners.
Another shower cleaning tip is to make sure you use a mop to mop the walls and floor after you shower. The goal is to remove as much water as possible from the surfaces. Water is part of the recipe for mildew and mold growth. It is best to use a second, older towel to wipe the shower surfaces dry while you dry your skin. Leave the shower door open or pull back the shower curtain after leaving the bathroom. You want the shower to dry as quickly as possible.
What can I help you with? What issues around your home worry you? What do you want me to discuss in my next columns? Go here and tell me. Make sure to write GO in the URL: https://GO.askthebuilder.com/helpmetim.