Stone Care Experts Weigh In: Cleaning Porcelain Grout the Right Way
When you’re cleaning porcelain, you need to move carefully to preserve its delicate sheen; when you’re cleaning grout, you need to use some elbow grease to make sure that you remove grime as effectively as possible from a narrow, rough surface. The challenge is, how are you supposed to clean it well without damaging the porcelain, the grout or your frazzled nerves any further? No worries: Here’s what you need to know.
What is Porcelain?
Porcelain is a substance that’s generally classed as a ceramic. It’s a type of tile material that, according to the American Society for Testing and Materials, must have a water absorption rate of less than or equal to 0.5%. (There’s a certification program to make sure that this is the case!) Making a substance this dense is difficult. Porcelain manufacturers use a very specific mixture of fine, pure clay that can include substances such as feldspar and quartz. Tiles made of porcelain are fired at very high temperatures to ensure that they’re very smooth and dense. The specialized materials and processes involved make porcelain a beautiful and expensive addition to your home—which means that you’ll want to do all you can to make sure you protect your porcelain tile surfaces.
What is Grout?
Of course, wherever you have tile, you’re likely to require a filler for the joints between each tile. That is precisely where grout comes in. The Ceramic Tile Institute of America calls grout “a carefully graded aggregate” that tends to be combined with water and colorant to provide a durable, aesthetic glue between stone tiles. Since it’s durable, it can be easy to think that grout can take a beating. Where porcelain is smooth and delicate-seeming, grout can be sandy and rough. Unfortunately, this means that grout can erode if it’s exposed to overly harsh ingredients. To clean your grout well and avoid any damage to your porcelain or grout, it’s vital to make sure that you’re cleaning your surfaces effectively and gently.
The Wrong Way to Clean Porcelain and Grout
Here’s the thing: Even though these two materials appear very different, they have something in common: Neither porcelain nor grout should be exposed to DIY cleaning products, or even, really, to basic soap and water. These harsh ingredients can range from ineffective to damaging the grout or the surrounding surfaces, whether it’s porcelain or granite and other natural stone. It’s also completely crucial to steer clear of TikTok cleaning trends—recently, a so-called cleaning hack involving a very strong bathroom cleaner made the rounds. Using improper cleaning agents is a great way to damage grout and stain expensive tile! Instead, we’ve got a simple go-to cleaning routine that will keep your grout and surround porcelain or natural stone looking good for years to come.