cleaning tile and grout with a dirty mop

The Top Tile and Grout Cleaning Mistakes

The impact of clean, fresh tile and pristine grout on your building’s visitors cannot be understated.

Every space you step into has an impact on how you feel, and the look of the tiled areas in your building is no exception. Keeping them clean makes visitors feel like they are entering an environment where effort is made to make the space look inviting, professional, and well cared for.

Heavy foot traffic coupled with neglecting periodic deep cleaning of tile and grout can quickly turn into dulled surfaces, stained and discolored grout, unwanted bacterial buildup, and bad smells – often making visitors and employees presume that you don't care about them and how your building looks!

It’s vital to take good care of tiled floors and walls so you can keep your space looking amazing, feeling welcoming, and sanitized to a safe standard, all while prolonging the life of your tile and grout.

As professional tile and grout restoration specialists, we’ve compiled a list of our biggest pet peeves and the most common cleaning mistakes we see with DIY tile and grout cleaning.

1. Using a dirty mop and dirty water

This may seem obvious, and you might be surprised to find out how often floors are being cleaned with dirty water and a dirty mop. We’ve opened supply closets and found water still in the mop bucket along with the mop sitting in that water. The tools your team uses to clean your space could be harboring a lot of bacteria.

How would you know dirty water is being used?

  • Open the janitorial closet, is there dirty water standing in the mop bucket? There should never be water standing in a mop bucket stored in the closet.
  • Have you noticed that the grout on your baseboards or walls has become discolored around the restroom, about 4” up from the floor? That is due to a dirty mop hitting the walls and that dirty water seeping into the grout and discoloring it – this is called “grout graying,” and is completely avoidable.
  • If your restrooms have a lingering odor that doesn’t seem to ever go away? It’s probably odors from the gunk trapped in your grout.

Tiled floors are being “cleaned” with dirty water and dirty tools rather than removing dirt, dust, germs, and bacteria. This method spreads the dirt around, embedding it into the grout.

To make matters worse, we’ve witnessed the mops being used to clean restroom floors being reused to mop and “clean” the lobby floor without changing out the water, rinsing out the mophead, or replacing it. 

The dirt, grease, and bacteria from the dirty mop and water settle into the groves in the floor and soak into your grout. Bacterial biofilm can develop and harbor all sorts of nasty beasties and discolor your grout. This harmful buildup of bacteria is detrimental not only to your health but also to the health and appearance of your tile and grout.

Many types of dangerous pathogens like MRSA and norovirus have been found in public restrooms, so make sure your cleaning crew thinks twice before spreading around bacteria with a dirty mop!

2. Using too much water

Just as using dirty water is harmful to your tile and grout, as is using too much water. Grout is porous, meaning it easily soaks up excess liquid and takes a long time to dry. This makes it so susceptible to harboring nasty bacteria and breeding mold and mildew.

When mopping your tiled floors, a damp mop is preferable to a soaking wet one. Ensure you wring out any excess liquid to avoid over-saturating your grout and damaging its appearance and integrity.

3. Incorrect use of cleaning products

Improper use of acidic cleaners can break down grout and can cause permanent discoloration creating an inconsistent look and allowing potentially harmful bacteria to grow and thrive.

Improper use of alkaline cleaners, if not properly diluted, can cause a residue buildup on tile and grout which attract soil and dirt. This will cause the floors to look dull and dirty as well as become a breeding ground for germs, bacteria, and other little beasties.

4. Over scrubbing

Despite what you might think, putting too much elbow grease into your cleaning is possible! Scrubbing too hard on your tiles, especially when using mechanical equipment, can seriously deteriorate the appearance of your tiles and damage your grout.

If you feel you’ve got a particularly tough stain that needs extra attention, use a soft brush and a tile-safe cleaner for sparkling clean results in no time.

5. Not cleaning stains immediately

Spills happen all the time. Especially in busy areas like office canteens and restrooms. And while tile floors are more forgiving of stains than other surfaces like carpets, your janitorial team still needs to react quickly and treat the spill correctly to minimize any potential damage.

Tiles can quickly become stained if you leave a spill sitting on the surface for a long time, especially with beautiful natural stone flooring. Also, as mentioned above in the second point, exposing tile and grout to too much liquid can cause deterioration and bacterial growth.

Protective coatings can help your tile and grout become resilient to spills and stains. Speak with our CareTeam to discuss what options are available for your specific tile makeup and your budget.

6. Worn-out sealant or unsealed grout

Grout is inherently porous, and that’s the problem

Worn-out grout sealant and unsealed grout lines – especially in restrooms – harbor bacteria, pathogens, and odors

Tile floors are a staple in most commercial building lobbies, hallways, kitchens, locker rooms, and restrooms. Dirty grout lines make tile look worn; they are like a porous sponge if unsealed. Liquids can easily penetrate deep within grout lines and create a blotchy stain – altering the color of your grout.

Grout stains are not just a visual issue – dirt, mold, mildew, and bacteria quickly build up, causing unpleasant odors and visuals. Mopping alone often doesn’t help significantly, particularly if the water isn’t changed often enough.

Mopping causes water, soil, and detergent to flow into low spots between your tiles, which absorb into your grout and create a bacterial-laden biofilm that is difficult to remove and harbors microscopic beasties.

7. Not getting tile and grout professionally cleaned

While your housekeeping team can maintain the day-to-day cleanliness of your tile surfaces, it’s always wise to leave the periodic deep cleaning up to the experts.

The standard approach of using a mop and bucket to clean tile floors is not enough to keep them looking great and prevent the growth and spread of nasty bacteria and viruses.

You don’t need to waste time and money having your cleaning crew on their hands and knees scrubbing stubborn dirt that can’t be lifted by hand and often can’t be removed by their floor specialists.

We restore and deep clean tile floors every day all over the country. Our technicians have taken floors that appeared to have irreversible damage and revitalized them to look brand new. Within 8-48 hours, depending on the size of the project, you can have completely restored floors shined to the level you desire. Your newly revived tile will be easier to clean and keep clean, saving your janitorial team time and freeing them up to work on other projects.

Talk to our team of tile & grout experts

At Corporate Care we can reverse the ravages of wear and tear and bring dull and worn-out-looking tile and grout back from the brink.

Sustainability obsessed, we’re the experts when it comes to giving any surface a much-needed makeover, and our tile and grout restoration is one of our most popular services!

We give your floor a deep scrub, and acid wash, recolor the grout for visual consistency and add a protective antimicrobial clear coating to improve your tiled floor's appearance, performance, and longevity.

If you think it’s too late for your tile and grout to be salvaged or are concerned about mold and mildew, or odors – get in touch with our team of highly trained cleaners and begin your transformation.

Schedule a call to discuss your tile and grout restoration options today to make your space look better than ever!


About Corporate Care – A sustainability company

Corporate Care exists to improve the appearance, performance, and longevity of every surface in the commercial buildings you manage – reducing capital expenditures, stress, and management burden on facility managers from coast to coast.

As true surface care experts, we understand the unique properties and cleaning protocols every surface needs (or doesn’t) to look amazing and comply with manufacturer warranties. We’re here to support your existing janitorial crew with cadenced deep restorative cleaning and tailored maintenance protocols – performed by IICRC®-certified cleaning technicians.

We are firm believers in restoration over replacement. Let’s reduce waste together!