Professional cleaners and homeowners use both specialised tile-cleaning tools and general-purpose cleaning tools to clean grout and tiles. Most tile-cleaning tools work well on both ceramic tiles and natural stone tiles, and specialised tools, such as unusually shaped scrubbers, are available at home improvement stores and hardware stores.
The grout brush's stiff, close-grouped bristles are designed to fit precisely within a grout line. Similar in appearance to a toothbrush, the grout brush's bristles protrude from a flat head and attach to a slightly offset handle. The grout brush bristles are thick, stiff and typically made of a synthetic material, such as vinyl. Whereas metal bristles damage grout, synthetic bristles abrade grout without causing damage. Grout brushes are commonly available at hardware stores and home improvement warehouses.
General-Purpose Tile-Cleaning Tools
General-purpose scrubbing brushes and sponges are suitable for cleaning most tile surfaces. General-purpose scrubbing brushes have either natural or synthetic bristles that typically protrude from the bottom of a U-shaped handle assembly. Brushes are particularly useful for removing lime scale and soap scum from shower or tub tiles.
Metal-bristled brushes remove a tile's protective coating, called a glaze, and should never be used to clean either tile or grout.
Household sponges gently remove grease and grime from tiles. However, the abrasive pads attached to many household sponges are unsuitable for cleaning grout; these fibrous pads often leave tiny fibres stuck in grout lines.
Tile- and Grout-Cleaning Power Equipment
Generally reserved for professional applications, many tile- and grout-cleaning machines are available for rental at home improvement stores and tool rental shops. Tile- and grout-cleaning machines typically consist of an electric motor, a spray hose and scrubbing attachment. The machine's motor powers the hose's pressurised spray, a suction pump and the rotation of scrubbing attachments.
Small tile-cleaning machines often appear similar to floor buffers; a pole-like handle attaches to a disc-shaped scrubbing head. The motor, sprayer, pump and scrubber of large tile-cleaning machines usually sit within a wheel-mounted box and cleaners push the entire assembly across a floor. The term "floor scrubber" refers to machines that clean both tile and other floor coverings, such as vinyl.
Aside from commercially available "tile cleaners," cleaners use common, household detergents and bleach to clean tiles and grout. If using chlorine bleach, cleaners always dilute the compound in fresh water and never allow the solution to sit on grout or tile longer than a few minutes. Abrasive, scouring compounds, such as powder-form cleaning agents, damage a ceramic tile's glaze.
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