It is time to clean your grout. Saying that one phrase often makes people sick or worse, depressed. Is it really worth paying someone else to handle this sometimes daunting task? Let’s see what the benefits and drawbacks are to this relatively new home service.
First of all, many people are unfamiliar with this home service. Carpet cleaners have been around for years and most people are aware of the service or have had their carpets cleaned at one time or another. Whether or not the customer has been satisfied with the cleaning service is an entirely different matter. With any service that centers on your home, trust is a big factor in taking that first step into allowing someone else to work on your prized possession. As of course there are many terrific carpet cleaners in the industry, there are just as many that give the industry a bad name. This is true for any industry, but once you have been duped or had poor service, you are reluctant to return down that road.
This brings us to the world of tile and grout cleaning. Is it really worth paying someone to do what most people assume they can do themselves? If you search the internet, there are countless home remedies and solutions for cleaning your grout yourself. In some cases these solutions are not bad options. Minor spot cleaning and pet stain removal can come in handy in many instances. However, if you are staring at an entire floor that needs restoration or just a good cleaning, you may be up against a monster.
Anyone that has ever been down on their hands and knees with a scrub brush and some horrible chemical can tell you that it is anything but easy. It can be smelly, messy and tough on your body and there is always the chance that you may even make things worse looking then before you started. So you are wondering, when is he going to tell me what makes paying for this service so great and why I should spend my hard-earned money to do just that. Well, lets find out!
First of all, you should be aware that not all tile and grout cleaning services are created equal. The old adage “You get what you pay for” holds true here just as if you were comparing the purchase of a new car, printer or camera. You want to make sure you are getting a quality service you will be happy with; but not one that will break the bank. Depending on your region of the country, you can expect to pay anywhere from .75 cents to $1.50 per square foot of tile cleaned.
This is standard and of course could vary depending on the condition of the grout or if there are existing sealers that have to be removed first. So on average, a 400 square foot kitchen would cost you between $300-$600 depending on your area of the country. Many people would look at that number and say that is ridiculous. I can get my entire house of carpet cleaned for less than $200. Well, lets take a look at the real difference here. This will also help you qualify a true tile and grout cleaning company versus a carpet cleaner acting as a tile and grout cleaning company.
The keys to a quality tile and grout cleaning job are contained in these four components. Emulsifier(detergent), pressure, heat and extraction or vacuum. If your tile and grout cleaning company does not have these four components, you can easily eliminate them from contention. Here are the reasons why.
Water on its own will not be enough to get the job done. Your tile and grout cleaning company needs to have a sufficient detergent to tackle your particular job. The detergent is used to loosen the dirt and grease molecules from your tile and grout. Without this, you might as well be throwing water at oil, with a result you might expect.
Pressure, and here is one of the major ones besides the detergent. If you spray a normal garden hose on your driveway, you may wash off the surface dirt. However, if you really want it to look new, you grab a pressure washer and do the job right. The same holds true with cleaning grout. Grout is porous and is a cement product. Now, I don’t recommend taking a pressure washer to your kitchen floor unless you want to bring your swimming pool indoors. You do need pressure however; and not just steam pressure.
Most carpet cleaners deal with pressure between 100-500 psi to clean carpets. To clean tile and grout, you really need to start out around 1200 psi and can go upwards from there. If your carpet cleaner’s machine will not provide that much pressure, then you can eliminate him/her from your list. Now, if they do a good job cleaning your carpets, keep them for that. You just will need to find someone else to do your tile and grout cleaning. Pressure is key, as it loosens the dirt and grease from the grout. It works in conjunction with the detergent to get down deep into the grout’s pores for a thorough cleaning.
A scrub brush will not and cannot do the same. A brush only gets the top layer and then either pushes the dirt farther down or just moves it to another surface. You may see some adequate results, but in most cases they are only temporary, as the dirt that has been pushed down will find its way back to the surface.
Heat is not always a necessity, but most of us know that when you add heat to most any cleaning procedure, you get better results. Now of course there are exceptions and I am aware of that. You wouldn’t want to clean silk at 200 degrees, but we are talking tile and not fine fabrics. Heat not only helps loosen grease particles trapped in your grout, but it also helps kill bacteria that are present as well. Trust me on this one, there are definitely germs and bacteria growing in your grout. Grout is like a sponge, it will soak up everything.
Lastly, extraction or vacuum is essential. What good would it do you to have your grout cleaned only to leave the dirty water sitting on your clean tile and grout. It wouldn’t be clean for long. Having a powerful truck mounted vacuum is very important. When you are putting that much water down onto the floor, you want something that will extract it rather quickly and fully. This not only will fully remove the dirt from your newly cleaned surface, but it will also help your floors dry out much quicker.
Armed with this information, you can now make a more informed and hopefully confident decision when you decide to have your tile and grout professionally cleaned. Remember, no company is perfect, but with the proper equipment and trained professionals, the job can be done right. Just make sure you qualify any cleaning company before they start the job. Ask for references and make sure they can answer all of your questions completely and that they have the four components to properly clean your floors.
Next week, we will talk about sealers and their role in a residential application.
Please fell free to contact me with any questions.