Cleaning Natural Stone Tile
Natural stone tile is a beautiful decorative addition that increases the value of any home. And because it’s naturally durable, stone tile is strong enough to stand up to the rigors of everyday living. But to keep stone tile beautiful, you must clean it regularly. Without regular care even durable hard stone will show wear and lose the luster that keeps your home beautiful.
Daily Cleaning for Natural Stone
Natural stones like granite, marble and limestone look tough but they are more delicate than they seem. While thick tiles are resistant to cracks and the pressure of foot traffic, their surfaces are much more changeable. The dirt that comes in underfoot from even light traffic can scratch the surface of natural tile and give it a dull appearance.
To avoid unnecessary wear, sweep your stone tile floor daily or as often as possible. A daily sweep will remove the small particles of grit and dirt that get ground into the tile as you walk across it. To get the job done right, use a natural bristle broom or a microfiber dust mop.
If you’re too busy to sweep every day, take extra precautions to keep the floor clean. Lay down mats on the inside and outside of each exterior door to catch outside dirt before its tracked in. And if possible, ask family members and guests to take their shoes off before they enter.
Mopping Stone Tile
Busy homeowners will be happy to hear that stone tile floors do not need to be mopped as frequently as they are swept. The frequency with which you mop largely depends on the amount of use the natural stone tiled room gets.
A visual inspection is the best indicator of when it’s time to mop. When the floor develops dirty spots that aren’t removed with the broom, it’s time to mop. Don’t let stuck on stains hang around too long or they may discolor the floor.
When mopping natural stone, use a pH neutral natural stone cleaner. If at all possible, use the brand recommended by the tile’s manufacturer or its installation company. Avoid using acidic (lemon- or vinegar-based) or basic (bleach) cleaners. High or low pH solutions way etch — chemically scratch — the tile’s natural stone surface.
Spills on Tile
One of the most important rules of natural tile care is “clean up spills immediately”. Natural stone is quite porous. The surface of each tile is covered in tiny — sometimes microscopic — holes.
If your natural tile is unfinished, any liquid that sits on the surface for too long will make its way down into the pores of the tile. Once there they are very hard if not impossible to remove.
As soon as possible, blot spills up with paper towels or an old towel. Don’t rub. The blotting action keeps the liquid from spreading and draws it out of the stone’s pores.
Natural stone stains happen, even on finished surfaces. Most fresh stains can be removed with the right approach. However, if your cleaning efforts don’t remove the stain, it’s time to call a professional.
For oil-based stains like grease, cooking oil or milk, soak the area with your natural stone cleaner for five minutes then scrub the area. If that doesn’t work, repeat the process with acetone. For ink stains, mold, mildew and food stains, scrub with 12% hydrogen peroxide (available at hair supply centers) mixed with three to four drops of ammonia.
Follow up any stain-removal effort by scrubbing the area with your pH neutral cleaner. Rinse with fresh water and then pat the area dry.
Follow these steps to clean the natural stone in your home and you’ll keep it beautiful. The more regular the care you give your natural tile, the longer it will last.
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