Why you should be careful with off-the-shelf cleaning products

At Tile & Stone Medic Cheshire, we see a huge number of tile and natural stone floors. Whether in private homes, business premises or public spaces, they all have to put up with various levels of wear and tear.

Whilst many can be quite tough and hard wearing, eventually they begin to show signs of use. Typically they will become dull and flat looking, sometimes chip and occasionally even stain. For both this reason, as well as general hygiene, those who have invested in hard floors recruit a wide range of cleaning products to help take care of these valuable surfaces as safely and conveniently as possible.

How does this wear and tear happen? It could simply be down to regular footfall. Shoes, especially hard-soled ones, can eventually scrape away at any protective top layer of a tile or stone floor, leaving the surface vulnerable to water damage and engrained dirt. Hard objects accidentally dropped on a floor can have a similar effect or cause chips and cracks. Sometimes, however, cleaning products themselves can be the cause.

Tiles and natural stone are actually materials that are far more sensitive than people think. Whilst many appear heavy and extremely solid, the vast majority are highly susceptible to liquid damage, particularly from acidic or alkaline substances. Often, well intentioned cleaning and scrubbing using off the shelf products leaves behind ugly and scarred stone flooring. Using an acidic cleaner, as is commonly designed for cleaning limescale, can have devastating effects on a limestone floor. There are numerous deadly combinations of cleaning products and floors.

Fortunately, most tile and natural stone floors are ‘sealed’ with a tough coat of a specialist liquid in order to prevent the damaging effect of water absorption some of these partially soak into the material to provide strong foundations for the protection they offer. Materials such as terracotta and limestone can suffer particularly badly if not professionally sealed before use but having said that, sealers do not last for ever. As there are many types of sealer and different types of floors require very different approaches to their care there is not a single solution that can be applied to all cases.  The cleaning products and protocol that you use will naturally depend on your situation.

When attempting to clean a stone floor with an off the shelf product, we often find that the product used has not been properly formulated for either the sealer or the material it is being applied to. The end results are often stains or a marks of some sort on the floor. If the chemical has been scrubbed it may wear down the actual stone too. In some cases that materials can be so damaged that replacement tiles need to be ordered.

It is for this reason that we always advise customers to avoid off the shelf cleaning products for their tile or natural stone floors. Even if the products used do not damage the surface they’re being used on, many customers who have tried them then reach out to us complaining that they have tried everything and simply cannot get their floor clean. Inevitably, we find these products are a waste of money for our customers, since even when they are suitable for use they cannot make a difference without an experienced professional at the controls.

The advantage of working with Tile & Stone Medic is that we have an extensive knowledge of the specific cleaning requirements of all natural materials used for hard flooring. Backed by years of experience, there isn’t a natural material out there we haven’t worked on and delivered outstanding results. We are therefore able to provide great value for money by offering restorations whose results last longer. Not only do we carry out thorough cleaning and sealing services, we can help you make sure that you use the best cleaning products for your unique floor.

Next time you’re thinking of scrubbing away at your delicate natural stone floor ask yourself if it’s really worth it. Save your money for the professionals who can really make a difference. For better results, call up the friendly team at Tile & Stone Medic Cheshire. Our experienced technicians are on standby and always happy to offer helpful advice to both new and repeat customers.

Stone floor care top tips

The team at Tile & Stone Medic get to work on a huge variety of tile and natural stone floors.

From hundred year old Minton tiling, to cutting-edge slate, the differences in equipment and techniques required to maintain each one are vast. One thing they all have in common is that they demand an experienced hand to get the best results. Over the years we’ve honed our approach and developed industry-leading expertise, allowing us to achieve stunning results for all floors we work on, just take a look at our portfolios!

Despite their sometimes challenging maintenance requirements, there are a number of things that all home and business owners can do to maximise the life of their tile and stone floors. You don’t need to be a professional or have access to special equipment in order get a little more out of your floor and, if you find you need something a little more heavy duty, we’re on hand to help.

Sweeping

Tile & natural stone are hard materials. This means that unlike carpets, crumbs, dirt and dust cannot disappear into the materials, instead they sit on top. When these minute particles are trodden on they have nowhere to go, so press hard into the floor, leaving behind scratches, dents and marks. It’s not always easy to notice individual marks, but over time they build up and leave behind a dull, lifeless looking floor.

Daily sweeping with a soft brush is the best way to combat this. A dustpan and brush will suffice and it usually only takes a couple of minutes. If you’ve left the house, you may well have carried dirt or grit back in with you – even if you take your shoes off at the door. If you have tile or stone floors in your kitchen, a quick sweep up after meal preparation is the best thing you can do to ensure you get the best from it.

Vacuum cleaning

Regular vacuuming tackles the bits and pieces that are a little harder to see. In just a couple of days, a thin layer of dust can settle on the floor throughout a home or business, even in busy environments. It might not always be obvious, but it’s there. The key is to tackle it before it can be seen, not to wait until it builds up.

Vacuuming two or three times a week will minimise the amount of dust that gets trodden into the floor. This can dramatically extend the lifespan of any hard floor, particularly if it has been sealed, which is generally best practise. Ground in dust is the enemy of sealer, it can wear through multiple layers over time and leave sensitive stone floors vulnerable to water damage and other issues, not to mention destroy the sheen of a freshly cleaned floor.

It’s important to be careful when vacuuming, since some vacuum cleaners use hard plastic wheels which can scratch delicate stone floors. Care should also be taken not to use a vacuum cleaner intended for carpets, since they often rely on abrasive brushes that can scratch tiles.

Mopping

For floors that are less likely to attract dry debris, mopping may be the solution. Whether it’s a bathroom, kitchen or some other surface that is within the vicinity of liquids mopping is the way to go. From food and drink to personal hygiene products or just plain old water, liquids can leave marks and make your floors, or at least the grout, more vulnerable to mould and other marks.

Make sure to use cleaning products that are appropriate for your floor. Of course a standard mop will to the trick but to make sure to get the floor as dry as you reasonably can afterwards.

Clean up spills quickly

Many types of tile and natural stone are vulnerable to the effects of damp. Some floors, Limestone for example, are particularly sensitive, but even extremely tough floors such as granite can be damaged by the acidity in regular food & drink. Sealer has many benefits, one of which is that it shields floors from the effects of moisture. Nevertheless it’s important to clean up spills quickly so as not to risk any damage to the floor and to maintain the integrity of the seal.

If you do have a disaster and have a big spill to deal with, don’t panic. Remember not to use anything on it that could potentially damage the floor further, such as abrasive off the shelf stain removers. These products can cause serious damage that only a professional will be able to handle. Try to use non-abrasive techniques to tackle the spill, dabbing with kitchen paper or a towel. Don’t rub at the spill, blot it, the idea is to absorb it and lift it away from the surface, not press it further in.

If, after your best efforts, a visible mark remains on the floor, it might be time to call in professional help. The worst thing you can do is throw shop-bought products at it. Tile and natural stone floors are really sensitive to certain cleaning products and risking further damage will only make it more difficult to sort out the original problem.

Bonus tip – Know when to call a pro!

It’s not always easy to stay on top of the household chores when life continues to go on around you. We all live at such a pace these days that even with the best intentions we may occasionally miss the sweeping and dusting, or not notice that spill as quickly as we otherwise might. Whatever the case, eventually, all tile and stone floors will need the hand of a professional to rejuvenate them.

If your floor is looking worn or tired don’t waste your time and money on DIY solutions. Give the team at Tile & Stone Medic a call. We offer nationwide coverage and cater for every type of natural hard floor out there. Whether you’re a home or business, we work with you to provide restorations that fit around you. We’ll even fix up small chips, scratches and dings that we find whilst we we’re at it. Once you’re happy with the results we’ll apply some top quality sealer. You’ll enjoy outstanding value from a durable seal that keeps your hard floor looking great for longer.

Take a look at your tile or stone floor, does it need the professional touch? Don’t put up with lifeless, dull flooring, show off those wonderful materials. Speak to the team at Tile & Stone Medic today and discover the difference a professional touch can make.

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