With the progression of modern architecture, there is an increased emphasis on creating visually appealing bathrooms. Gone are the days of vividly colored tiles lining the floors and walls alike – today, bathrooms are all about natural, soothing finishes. And as beautiful as they look, they are not so simple to maintain.
If natural stone tiles in bathrooms are not properly cared for, they soon begin to lag behind in maintenance and serviceability. Stone tiles require regular sealing, and unless done exactly as recommended by the manufacturer, it will turn dull and grimy before you know it. Natural stone tiles, especially when unpolished, are prone to water stains. Therefore, if you wish to avoid the unsightly staining on your expensive tiles, you have to immediately wipe them dry after they have been made wet. Similarly, wide grout lines and texture on the tile surface can also trap lint and dirt along with moisture, becoming breeding grounds for germs and making your bathroom appear dirty and dingy. Having said that, all you need is a good cleaning routine to battle these natural stone bathroom tile woes.
To all those looking to revamp their bathrooms with natural stone tiles, or desperately scouring the web for tips on bringing their lifeless tiled bathrooms to life: read ahead.
Prevention before Cure
Mildew, grout, and scratched surfaces with dirt and grime resting inside the crevices are common bathroom tile problems. While there are tried and tested solutions that effectively address these issues, the best remedy is to not let them develop in the first place.
Begin with the simplest and most important tip: always drain excess water after a shower. Regardless of how potent the drainage system in a bathroom is, some water is bound to be left standing in the shower. This water takes hours to dry out and leaves behind water stains, fade marks, and mildew on the stone tiles. To make matters worse, stones that are left wet for extended periods also harbor mold and fungus. To prevent this problem, use a squeegee to wipe the shower walls dry. Linked ahead is a great product to keep your stone bathroom tiles in their best shape:
Once the walls are relatively dry, wipe the floor of the shower as well. Then, either turn on the bathroom fan or dehumidifier and let the rest of the moisture air-dry. Practicing this regularly will not only prevent water stains and grout but will also lower the frequency of sealing required by your stone tiles. Watch this YouTube video for more help on properly using a squeegee on all kinds of tiles in your bathroom:
Another important tip is to keep a pair of bathroom slippers and a rug or mat at the bathroom entrance. A lot of the damage caused to natural stone tiles is when they are laid out on the floor, and trampled over with dirty shoes or dirty feet. This pushes the dirt and debris deep into the grooves of the floor, and if left untreated over time, will make the bathroom look grimy. Make a rule not to enter bathrooms with outdoor shoes. Keeping a separate pair of slippers for the bathroom will ensure that no extra debris or grit is brought inside the bathroom from the outside. Then on top of this, place a non-slip mat at the bathroom door. This will catch more of any debris still attached to the feet or the bathroom slippers themselves, and keep your bathroom tiles dirt-free.
Drying and Dusting
As beautiful as they are, natural stone tiles require proper cleaning and maintenance. A good cleaning routine will prevent your tiles from developing water rings and soap scum, and keep the sealant and cement in its prime state for longer.
Begin by drying out the tiles. You can use the bathroom’s natural ventilation for this, a dehumidifier, a bathroom fan, or tools like a squeegee or microfiber cloth. Once dry, proceed to dust the stone. Use a clean, dry mop or broom to brush out any debris, sand, or grit from the grooves of the tiles. Remember to do it along the grain if the tiles are textured because going against the grain can push dirt even deeper into the crevices.
Now your tiles are dry and dusted. It’s time to move on to surface cleaning.
Cleaning and Removing Stains
For this step, we need a cleaning solution and a clean microfiber mop. We prefer using ‘green’ cleaners because they are not only good for the environment and your pocket but also cause no damage to your stone tiles. Alternatively, you can use a few drops of your regular dish soap mixed into a hot water tub. However, stay wary of vinegar as a popular homemade cleaner: vinegar must never be used on unsealed marble, onyx, limestone, or travertine as it will corrode them. With that said, most if not all of the bathroom tiles come sealed, and will respond well to a cleaning solution made out of 1-part vinegar and 3 parts hot water. You can add a tablespoon of baking soda to this vinegar mixture, or even to your regular dishwashing soap, and make yourself a brilliant soap scum remover.
Once your mixture is ready, move on to cleaning. Dip a clean microfiber cloth or mop in the mixture, let it absorb the contents, and then sweep it over the tiles using mild pressure. Work in some sweat and rub in circles where you spot a stain. If you feel that the stain is stubborn, grab a soft nylon brush, dampen it with the cleaning mixture, and lightly scrub the tiles. When you are done, give the tiles a rinse with clean water and dry the bathroom again. Watch this detailed YouTube guide for even more tips and tricks:
If we were to give a quick summary of everything there is to know about cleaning natural stone bathroom tiles, here is what we would say: never, ever deviate from the manufacturer’s care instructions, and clean daily. This is really it.