Every business that caters to health-conscious and green-oriented clients must be careful to integrate sustainable practices in all areas of their facilities. This means using people- and pet-friendly cleaning products that don’t rely on toxic chemicals or allergy-triggering perfumes to clean surfaces.
If your spa, restaurant or retail shop has a lot of tile and stone features, this can pose a challenge. You should know there are nontoxic, safe ingredients you can use on most tiles and stone, and many “home remedies” for maintaining these surfaces are easily available in the grocery store.
Here are a few tips when switching to natural cleaners:
Know what you’re cleaning
Before you use any new product on your tile or stone surfaces, you should find out the manufacturer’s or material-supplier’s recommendations for your particular surface. If this is not possible due to the age of the home, you should have an expert determine whether you have ceramic, porcelain, marble, limestone, concrete or some other product on your floors, walls and counters.
Some acid products will etch into the surface of stone surfaces, or will leave a film, so it’s important to know the rules for the exact type of stone you’re cleaning. Always have your cleaning crew test an inconspicuous spot of tile or stone first, by applying the new cleaner to a small patch, rinsing the area and watching for any discoloration or surface damage.
Go easy on grout
There’s no need to use abrasive or harsh cleaning products on grout between tiles. In fact, some commercial grout cleaners leave a film that can attract more dirt and grime. Janitorial staff can freshen grout up with a toothbrush and one of these products:
- white vinegar
- baking soda
- lemon juice
Your cleaning staff may need to make a paste of white vinegar and baking soda (it will fizz) or spray the grout with water first to help the baking soda adhere to the grout on a vertical wall. The longer the cleaner sits on the grout, the more it will help to freshen white and other lighter colors. Any grout cleaner, natural or not, should be thoroughly rinsed away.
Maintenance and daily care
Most stone and tile can be maintained by sweeping away dust and crumbs daily. Tiny grains of sand and grit will do a lot of damage over time, so provide staff with ample dust mops and other tools to keep grit at a minimum on floors. Neutral stone cleaner or mild detergent are fine for everyday use on most stone and tile, but rinse well to avoid leaving a film behind. Never use vinegar or any acidic cleaner on marble or limestone.
Abrasive cleaners should never be used. A daily mop with warm water and mild detergent followed by a good rinse will keep most stone floors looking good. Shiny marble and other floors will need good sealants, and professional buffers with non-toxic floor polish will keep them gleaming.
Handling stains on stone and tile
Here are a few more tips:
- Always blot stains; don’t wipe or rub
- Buff water spots with dry, fine steel wool
- Use bleach or peroxide for ink on light stone
- Use lacquer thinner or acetone for ink on dark stone
- Ammonia, mineral spirits or acetone will remove oily spots
You can make a poultice to pull up rust spots on stone by mixing up white molding plastic, talc, kaolin or diatomaceous earth until it’s the consistency of clay. Mound the poultice material over the rust spot, then cover with plastic and seal the area with tape. As the poultice dries, it will pull the rust spot up in many cases. Some rust spots are permanent if not caught in time or they’ve settled too deep in the surface.
You can learn more tips on how to clean marble and stone surfaces from this guide, or consult a professional stone and tile cleaning service. They can source nontoxic cleaning agents that won’t harm any of your facility’s stone and tile surfaces–or your clients’ health and safety.