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There's no doubt, cleaning grout can make you pout. Grout is very porous, which means liquid cleaners seep through it like excrement through a goose. So you need a lot of patience. First, spray a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water directly on the spot. Make sure you soak it good. Let it set 15 minutes, and repeat. Note: If you are working with colored grout, ignore the preceding instructions. The peroxide, which is a bleach, will remove the color from colored grout. If you still can't get the stain out, soak a heavy-duty paper towel in peroxide and lay it over the stain. Cover the towel with plastic wrap to prevent the peroxide from drying out quickly. The towel holds the peroxide on the surface giving it time to dissolve the stain. If that doesn't work, mix a paste of straight peroxide and baking soda. Allow the bubbling to subside. Apply to the stain and let it set. Re-spray with peroxide as it dries out. Miscellaneous notes: Shaving cream also does a good job removing stains on grout. If your grout is colored test an inconspicuous spot first. Tile stores now carry a cleaner stick that resembles chalk. It is safe to use on colored grout and works wonders. Finally, once you remove the stains from the grout, seal it.
You have to be careful when cleaning marble floors. They are great-looking, but a little sensitive. Marble floors must be washed only in warm water. No vinegar, please. Save that for more plebeian surfaces, like window glass. The mild acid in vinegar damages marble's delicate surfaces. Wring out all excess moisture from a towel and damp mop. Immediately follow with a dry towel. Remember: marble floors must be dried, as they spot easily.
Everyday household liquids such as orange juice, nail polish remover, shampoo, and even water can seriously stain certain marbles. Granite, on the other hand, resists stains beautifully. Professional installers recommend the use of neutral pH breathable sealers for both marble and granite, once they have been installed. Depending on how much use or foot traffic that the marble or granite is exposed to, these sealers need to be reapplied on a regular basis. If you choose marble for your entrance foyer, you might have to have it professionally cleaned and resealed every 12 - 18 months. Marble used in bathrooms and kitchens should be cleaned and resealed every 9 - 12 months.
Wood just doesn't cotton to water all that much. A little water sitting on a sealed and waxed floor can leave a stain in a matter of minutes (someone didn't read their guide to protecting and maintaining flooring). Fortunately, the damage can be reversed. Here's how: To remove a smoky white haze or a white spot, buff the finish with a soft cotton cloth and a very mild abrasive, such as whitening toothpaste, auto-polishing compound, or tobacco ash mixed with mineral oil, until the stain disappears. To remove more serious black or white water stains on wood flooring, take the following steps:
• Mask off the surrounding boards with painter's masking tape.
• First remove any wax or surface finish. Use fine steel wool to remove wax, and sandpaper to remove a surface finish. Depending on the size of the area you want to repair, hand-sand with a rubber sanding block or machine-sand with a random-orbit sander. In both cases, start with 80- or even 60-grit abrasive and sand to 100-grit. Sand just up to the edges of unaffected boards.
• Mix oxalic acid crystals (available at paint or hardware stores) in 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) or so of hot water and stir to dissolve them. Keep adding crystals until they won't dissolve anymore.
• Pour, brush or sponge the solution on the stained area. Once it has dried completely, brush off the crystals and repeat the process until the stain is gone.
• Stain or seal, then refinish the affected area. Or, if the touch-up stands out too much, use the screen-and-overcoat method to restore the entire floor.
Like marble, tile and slate should be washed with warm water only. These floor surfaces require a lot of preventive maintenance. To ensure that their beauty and integrity will remain untainted for years to come, adhere to the foloowing guide to protecting and maintaining floors: Apply a quality sealant on a regular basis to slate, tile, and especially the grout. Also, take care to clean up spills immediately to avoid the formation of spots and stains.
OK. You've followed the manufacturer's direction, you got your grout on. You're very proud of yourself. But wait. Suddenly you see that you got grout on your tile and it's leaving a mark. Drat! The fact is, when you grout porous tiles like slate, marble or terra cotta any grout left on the tile can cause it to look foggy and dull. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do after the job is done and your floor is stained. You should seal the tile before you install it with either a top-coat or a pre-sealer. This will keep the grout from penetrating in the pores of the tile.
So, you've read a guide on protecting and maintaining flooring and you're convinced that all of the flooring in your home is safe. But, have you thought about your garage? Sealing your concrete garage floor is a great way to protect it from road salt, eliminate concrete dust, prevent stains, and improve sweepability. And, if you ever decide to paint the floor, you've got a great primer. Follow these easy steps:
1. Use a hose to scrub the floor with commercial concrete cleaner and degreaser according to the manufacturer's instructions.
2. In stained areas, let the cleaner soak in for up to 30 minutes, and repeat the application as needed for stubborn stains.
3. When the floor is dry, put the sealer in a large paint tray. Use a brush to cut in the perimeter and then roll the rest with a medium nap paint roller, equipped with a long handle. Work your way out of the garage. Apply generously but roll out all puddles. Sealer will stain surfaces, so apply it carefully and mask other areas when spraying.
4. Clean up tools with warm soapy water immediately and allow the sealer to dry as directed by the manufacturer. Do not apply a second coat.
*A word of caution: Read product cautions and directions, ventilate the room, and wear appropriate protection such as goggles and a respirator mask.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|