Bathroom Tile Care: Guide to Cleaning Bathroom Tiles, Grout and Caulking
Taking care of the tile, grout and caulk in your bathroom will prevent you from experiencing hefty repairs down the line. The tile, while decorative, is there to provide a smooth surface that doesn’t soak up water, and the grout and caulking are there to act as barriers to water as well. Maintaining the integrity of these three things will keep mold and leaks at bay, extend the life of your bathroom fixtures, and let you focus on more important things (like taking a bubble bath in your well-maintained tub!). Cleaning bathroom tiles can be an easy task if done right and done regularly. The same goes for cleaning shower tiles and even cleaning grout as you will want to arm yourself with the right solutions. Below, we answer and solve some of the most common questions when it comes to cleaning bathroom tiles, shower tiles, grout and caulking.
How to Clean Bathroom Tiles
Cleaning bathroom tile floors is generally an easy task. By following these suggestions, you can help keep your ceramic tile floors looking new.
- Sweep or vacuum the floor areas to remove dust and debris before cleaning bathroom tiles.
- Sweep or vacuum the bathroom floor tiles regularly to remove any abrasive particles that could damage the floor.
- Clean the bathroom tiles using a non-oil-based household cleaner that’s compatible with cement grouts.
- Wipe tile with a moist cloth, and wet mop it occasionally.
- Clean and scrub the bathroom tile floors with a cleaning solution using a cotton mop, cloth, sponge, or nonmetallic brush, and then rinse with clean water to remove the cleaning solution.
- Avoid mildew buildup by cleaning tile with a cleaner specified to control mildew.
- Use protective pads on furniture bottoms to help prevent scratching the tile.
- Avoid using cleaners that have acid in them, as this will damage the glaze when cleaning bathroom tiles.
How to Clean Shower
Cleaning shower tiles can be a very easy task if you have the right tools and cleaning solutions. Ensuring that you clean your shower before it becomes too dirty can also help ensure that this task is even easier every time you do it.
- Cleaning shower tiles with an everyday, multipurpose spray cleaner that removes soap scum, hard water deposits, and mildew is the best solution. Be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintaining your tile.
- Spray the tiles with the everyday cleaner and let set for a second or two.
- Wash the cleaner off the tiles by using the shower head or a wet sponge.
- Avoid using cleaner with acid as this will damage the glaze when cleaning shower tiles.
How to Clean Grout
Cleaning grout in your bathroom takes a bit more finesse than cleaning bathroom tiles, but can be made easy if done correctly and before the grout becomes too dirty.
- Clean the grout used between ceramic tiles with a brush and a mild cleanser.
- Use a grout sealer to make the grout more resistant to stains. This product can be purchased at most home care centers. Be aware that some sealers may discolor the grout.
- Inspect for grout cracks frequently.
- Re-caulk and re-grout as soon as a crack is detected.
- When removing and replacing cracked grout, take it down to the subfloor or concrete to ensure that the new grout has adequate depth; otherwise, the new grout could re-crack or flake off.
- Never use cleaners that contain acids or ammonia when cleaning grout. Cleaners with acid will damage the grout and tile glazing, and ammonia cleaners might discolor the grout. When cleaning bathroom tiles and cleaning shower tiles, be sure to follow this same step.
What Is Interior Caulking?
Interior caulking is the elastic sealer around bathtubs, showers, countertop backsplashes, and other areas that need protection against water entry.
Interior caulking, which seals areas in your home and helps prevent moisture problems, will separate and deteriorate over the years. If you don’t maintain caulk on a consistent basis, moisture can work its way behind fixtures, damaging drywall and framing.
Where Do You Apply Caulking?
The following are typical examples of places with caulk:
- Around showers, bathtubs, sinks, toilets, and other plumbing fixtures.
- Around window frames and door frames.
- Around countertop backsplashes, ceramic walls, and floors.
- Around ceiling fixtures and the attic door.
- Between the sill plate and the foundation.
- Don’t use acrylic caulking over silicone caulking and vice versa. These two types of caulking do not bond properly with each other.
When cleaning caulking, these will be the main areas you will want to look for.
How to Clean Caulking
To replace and clean caulking you will first want to look for separated and deteriorated caulk:
- Remove the old caulk with a putty knife, scraper, or painter’s tool.
- Clean and dry the area that needs re-caulking. Caulk won’t adhere correctly to a damp or dirty surface.
- Apply the new caulk. Hold the caulking tube at a 45° angle from the surface. Push, rather than pull, the tube to drive the caulk into the gap. Pushing helps to fill the gap completely without trapping any air bubbles.
- Twist the caulking tube and pull it back to break the caulk bead.
- Run your finger along the joint to smooth and compress the caulk.
If you’re using a caulking gun to apply the caulking, follow the directions on the tube to load and use the gun.
Don’t apply exterior caulk in cold weather. Caulk is best applied when the outdoor temperature is between 50°F and 70°F.