AlphaHomemaker: How to Clean Tile Floors
With every major cleaning product reduced to an individual-wipe form, are we making easy jobs a lot tougher than they need to be?
My current four step process to cleaning our guest bathroom (I don’t bother cleaning our own bathroom. It’s too overwhelming for me to deal with):
1) Sweep the tile floor. Cringe when I have to pick all the hair off the broom with my fingers
2) Run the Swiffer wet mop over the floor. Stare, appalled, at the amount of dirt it brought up, as well as the amount of dirt it left on the floor.
3) Get down on hands and knees with Clorox wipes, become disgusted with the hand print marks of dirt left of said wipes, spend 15 minutes chasing hair and dirt around the floor.
4) Run away screaming in horror and disgust when I see that, after all that work, my father-in-law’s pubic hair is STILL on the floor.
Surely there’s a better way? This is the first house we’ve had with tile floors – I’m a traditional redneck linoleum kind of girl. And my hubby is threatening to put tile in the KITCHEN. Which, dear lord. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of food I won’t be able to clean out of those cracks…
Have you tried…a mop? And some water?
Seriously, the best way to clean a tile floor is with clean, warm water and a mop. Once a week. I admit I usually go two weeks, though I swear I sweep a couple times in between.
For sweeping, I use a soft dusting mop with a removable microfiber dust mop top that can go in the washing machine. Swiffers are okay, but I find that most of the time I’m just pushing dirt and debris around, and the reusable dusting mop really does a better job and is most cost-effective in the long run, at least for the big floor jobs in rooms where you’re dealing with hair and other more substantial flotsam.
Next up, it’s a bucket of warm water. Stick mop in bucket. Wring out once, maybe twice. Mop floor quickly. Refill water in bucket once it starts to get dirty and brown. THAT’S IT.
“But! OMG! Plain water won’t get anything clean, will it?”
Trust me, unless you’re talking pet accidents or raw chicken juice, plain water will indeed get things cleaner as your fruitless broom/Swiffer/Clorox Wipes routine, all of which work best for small, targeted jobs (like a small counter spill or the dust bunnies riiiiight under the couch), but NOT for taking on an entire floor that really requires some wetness. No wonder the tile is driving you insane. Since I live in a house surrounded by boys and their penises and their terrible aim, obviously I do have to bust out the specialty cleansers sometimes — I like Seventh Generation’s Tub & Tile Cleaner for the area right around the toilet. If I sense the mess is big one or the grout is looking stained, I stick with the damp mopping but add some white vinegar (or rubbing alcohol) to my bucket of water. Easy, environmentally-friendly cleaning without the harsh chemicals, the waste output of individual wipes or the worries about the safety of commercially-produced antibacterial products.
So seriously. Go buy a dusting mop and a wet mop. You can try a wet-dry vacuum — which work nicely for spills and stuff like muddy footprints in the foyer — but I admit I am crazy old-school after trying a lot of the newer, fancier gadgets and wonder when exactly people got it into their head that pushing a mop around the floor was SO INSANELY HARD or unsanitary. Yeah, the water gets dirty and then the mop will too. But that’s hardly the mop’s fault, you know? Dump the water, refill, and toss the mop-head in the washing machine or rinse it out in the shower. A bathroom floor takes me 10 minutes, start to finish. You can probably get away with a light dusting of the guest bathroom now and then and only damp mop before and after you have guests. High-traffic floors like a master bath or kitchen? Aim for mopping once a week, just like you would do with hardwoods or for vacuuming carpet.
Tile floors are awesome. Tile is durable and lovely and protects your bathrooms and kitchens from mold and moisture damage and really, I SWEAR, is one of the easiest surfaces to take care of. (We have hardwoods in our kitchen. Ask me how much I love trying to vacuum out crumbs from the quarter-round or the number of spills I accidentally let sit too long that have since damaged the finish and how many times I’ve tried to convince my husband to please, oh God, let’s put some tile down already.)
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