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How to Clean Tile & Natural Stone Flooring

Maintaining your beautiful natural stone or tile flooring shouldn’t come at the cost of exposing your family to harsh chemicals. There are plenty of “natural” floor cleaners on the market with eco-friendly or sustainable attributes, yet they still contain an abundance of ingredients that are harmful to your health. These hazardous chemicals can trigger asthma, rashes, coughing, sneezing and headaches. Not to mention they’re an outright danger to young kids and pets. In 2017, household cleaning products accounted for 11 percent of young children’s’ exposures to poisons reported to the National Poison Data System, second behind cosmetics. Making your own non-toxic cleaners, with household staples you likely already own, can prevent all the aforementioned hazards while saving you money in the long-run. At Imperial Wholesale, we care about preserving your tile, stone or other flooring for as long as possible. The best way to achieve this is with gentle, yet effective, cleaning solutions, paying careful attention to avoid the materials that can damage your type of flooring. Here are the safest, easiest ways to clean your tile and natural stone with homemade non-toxic cleaners that benefit not only your health, but the health of your floors as well.  

What You’ll Need

Dig up an old toothbrush and raid your bathroom cabinets; there’s no need to make an extensive shopping list because you probably own most, if not all, of these homemade cleaning ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to have a truly natural cleaning experience. Baking Soda: Has that opened package of baking soda in the back of your fridge surpassed its expiration date? Instead of dumping it, use it for your homemade cleaning solutions. Baking soda is a slightly abrasive compound, meaning it won’t scratch or strip your flooring but it will pull up tough stains. It’s also great at neutralizing odors. Distilled white vinegar: Vinegar is the cleaning solution that does it all. One of its most useful functions is as a cleaner. It can cut through grease and dissolve substances, making it an essential floor cleaning ingredient. Just be careful to buy the distilled version if you also plan on using it for cooking – basic white vinegar is sold exclusively for cleaning purposes and is not safe to ingest. Hydrogen peroxide: You can apply this antiseptic to more than just cuts and scrapes. Consisting of only oxygen and water, it kills germs through oxidation, making it the most natural sanitizer on the market. Dish soap: There’s a reason dish soap has been used to clean birds soiled by oil spills. It’s strong, cutting through the thickest of grease, while also being extremely gentle. Check labels for phosphates and triclosan, which are both hazardous materials that you should avoid in your soaps. But generally, it’s a great cleaning agent, with the ability to clean far more than just dishes. Stiff-bristled brush or other scrubbing brush: Grout brushes can be found at most home improvement stores, but if you don’t feel like making a trip to the store, you can use an old toothbrush or a sponge with a scouring side to scrub your floor. Essential Oils: These are completely optional, but if you miss the lemon or lavender scent of your favorite household cleaners, you can add in some essential oils for a natural aroma. Some essential oils also have naturally occurring cleaning properties. Tea tree oil, for example, is antibacterial.  

Cleaning Tile

Ceramic tile and grout stains are perhaps the easiest things to remove, especially with these limited ingredient and all-natural recipes. Here’s how you can get out simple stains to clean tile floors.
  1. Sweep or vacuum the floor to first remove any dirt or grit
  2. Make a cleaning solution of equal parts vinegar and hot water to mop up the remaining stains on your ceramic tile
  3. Buff dry with a clean cloth
For pesky grout stains, you only need baking soda, vinegar and water.
  1. Mix equal parts baking soda and water until they form a paste that can be applied to the grout
  2. Spread the paste into the grout with a stiff-bristled brush
  3. Combine equal parts vinegar and warm water into a spray bottle and apply to the grout. This will cause the baking soda is fizzle.
  4. Wait five minutes as the grime loosens from the grout
  5. Further work the baking soda solution into the grout
  6. Wipe up the debris with a damp cloth or mop the floor again to prevent any dirty vinegar stains
For a more aggressive stain, like mildew, you can swap hydrogen peroxide for water to make a similar, yet stronger paste. You should also test out each new concoction before you apply it your entire floor to ensure that the cleaner doesn’t damage it. For those looking for a commercial non-toxic option, rest assured there are a few natural cleaning products on the market without harsh chemicals. Simple Green is a natural floor cleaner that can be used on tile, laminate and wood. You can also browse the green cleaning section at your local supermarket, however, make sure to inspect labels and if you can, research products before you go because not all products labeled “natural” will be non-toxic.  

Cleaning Natural Stone

What works for tile won’t work for natural stone because natural stone is extremely sensitive to acids like vinegar and lemon juice. Don’t use the same solution for your natural stone as you do for your tile because this will corrode stone. For marble, limestone and any other natural stones, here are few cleaning do’s and don’ts to ensure that your flooring stays pristine for years to come. Do: dust and mop floors frequently as this prevents minor scratches to the stone Don’t: use a worn vacuum cleaner on natural stone flooring because this can also cause scratching Do: clean surfaces with mild detergent or stone soap Don’t: use vinegar, lemon or any other acidic cleaning materials like bathroom or grout cleaners on natural stone   As stone experts, at Imperial Wholesale we recommend a damp mop with clear water every day to clean soiled areas. For a deeper clean, here’s a non-acidic homemade solution that combines readily available household items.
  1. First sweep, vacuum or mop the floor before applying a solution to it
  2. Combine five cups of warm water with 3 drops of pH neutral dish soap
  3. Mop the solution into the floor, making sure to remove any dirt or stains
  4. Quickly rinse off the solution with distilled water. Tap water has minerals in it which can damage the stone and leaving the solution on for too long can cause discoloration
  5. Buff dry with a clean cloth
  There are more detailed recipes that you can use for harsher stains and involve things like rubbing alcohol and essential oils. However, dish soap and water is the gentlest natural solution available, not to mention the easiest. There are also stone cleaners that we carry in store, like Advanced Sealers and Cleaners. Their “Ultimate Floor and More Cleaner” is a non-acidic, all-natural spray. Better yet, you can use it to clean your tile and grout as well.   Switching to non-toxic cleaners is a smart choice for your health, safety and wallet. Make sure you’re buying a cleaner for your specific type of floor; if you have natural stone flooring, you can’t use a regular tile and grout cleaner because of the acidity. Visit your nearest Imperial Wholesale location for affordable flooring, countertops, backsplashes, wall tiles, sinks and more. There’s nothing like seeing our marvelous materials in person, so come see what we have in-store. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at 480.986.6900.