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Cleaning and Maintaining Natural Stone, Wood Floors and Ceramic or Porcelain Tiles

Posted on: July 3rd, 2013 by First Coast Home Pros No Comments

Expert Floor Care Information by Deland Moghimi with our friends at Orlando’s Perfect Pear – Professional Cleaners of Fine Fabrics, Rugs, Carpets, and Floors.

All of these Floors and Countertops can be maintained with the same product. The product we recommend can be found at Lowe’s or Home Depot. (And its only like $10 and will last you forever) It is a Neutral Cleaner. Home Depot’s specific brand is called: ZEP Neutral Floor Cleaner.

I’m more familiar with the Home Depot brand but I have customers that have told me Lowe’s carries a Neutral Cleaner too. So if your a Lowe’s person instead of a Home Depot person your covered just the same.

How To Use: ZEP Neutral Floor Cleaner.

So the product comes in a Gallon size and says that you should dilute it with 1-2 ounces per gallon of water. That is a small amount of cleaner to that goes a long way. This will last you forever!

What I want you to do with it though is use a spray bottle. They come in quart sizes I think. Or take an empty one from around the house. Fill it up with water and put some drops in there. I don’t know the exact science for how much to put in your spray bottle nor does it matter too much. The good thing is you can increase the strength of the cleaner but putting more in versus not as much. But don’t go over board on it. Remember an ounce or two per gallon of water. Since your spray bottle isn’t in the shape of a gallon of milk you should also use less cleaner in your spray bottle too.

#1. Sweep or remove dry soil from the area you’re cleaning, whether it’s a floor or counter top. Dry soil turns mushy when exposed to liquid and you don’t want to rub that around everywhere.

Hint: Actually that is one of the main reasons why you get film on your windows after you clean them by hand. To avoid this simply clean the window with the Neutral Cleaner and a cloth. After the window is completely dry simply go over the window with a clean rag that hasn’t been used and the film will go away. That film is just smeared dirt on your glass that needs picked up after the initial clean you did with the neutral cleaner and your first rag.

#2. Mist the neutral cleaner on the floor or counter top. Wipe with a microfiber flat mop on the floor or a rag on your counter top. (You can use paper towels on your counter tops if you like)

If you see smears on your floor after a while it is time to change your Microfiber flat mop pad. The pad is doing its job by picking up the soil from the floor. If you try to use the same pad for too long you are….wait for it….smearing dirt around the floor and that is why you are getting the haze or smear marks. Change out your pad. It is not uncommon for people to use 5 or 6 pads to clean all their floors in their house. 

 #3. That’s about it. Don’t overly complicate it. Sweep the dry soil off the surface and mist the solution down and go over your Natural Stone Floor, Wood Floor (either engineered or real) and Ceramic or Porcalain Tile.

Why Other Products Don’t Work:

So why do other products not work as well?

 Um..I’ll give you an example: A wax, finish, sealer can be used interchangeably to in word to describe what you put over your floor to protect it. The higher the “solids” are in a product the better the wax, finish or sealer it is. Some of the products you buy to maintain your wood floors or your natural stone have a little bit of solids in them. When used over time you can get a build up of finish/wax/sealer on your floor. That is not good. Especially if you have layers upon layers upon layers of finish that has dirt in between. And that is the reason why you sometimes see a white haze on the floor when you clean that just doesn’t go away.

For Wood Floors:

Your wood floors (most of them) come with a factory finish. The product they use is called Aluminum Oxide. It is super strong. On the Moes scale of hardness it is a 9 that means it has diamonds in the finish. I actually don’t know how at this current writing to take off the aluminum oxide from a wood floor. The only way I know how that comes off is through abrasion.

So if you already have a finish that is on your wood floor and you add another finish from your cleaning product you are using it causes that haze. In our industry it is called “blushing.” The two finishes/waxes/sealers are not bonding together.

For Natural Stone:

There is a thing called “Moisture Vapor Transmissions”. Also known as MVT. That is how the earth “breaths”. A natural cycle takes place in the earth so there is a balance. The earth breaths through the floor. Your natural stone is porous and so the earth where you home sits breaths through your floor. If you use a cleaner with “solids” in them you are clogging your floor. If you clog your floors pores up the MVT will beat and cause pressure under your floor. Over time, this pressure will break through. That is one of the reasons why you see cracks in peoples floors. Yes it can be from the home settling and things like that but one of the other reasons is because MVT.

Note: When we put down an impregnating sealer into Natural Stone we have to put the sealer down in small sections (10×10 max) and wait for the floor to absorb the sealer. When the sealer begins to show us golf size dry spots we have to use a floor machine and white pad to absorb the rest of the sealer or we run the chance of letting to much sealer settle into the floor and can ruin the floor by clogging the pores so the floor can’t breath anymore.

Interesting Fact: If we remove wax/finish/sealer from a floor that wasn’t put down the right way. We have to let the floor breath for 48 hours before we try to correct it. Why? Because we released the pressure from the floor and the MVT can actually crack, sometimes shatter the floor. That 48 hours allows the floor to come back into harmony with its environment.

For Grout next to Porcelain or Ceramic Tile:

The Grout is Porous as Well. The tile is impervious. Meaning it can’t breath or nothing can penetrate through. The grout is the channel through which the MVT (moisture vapor transmissions) takes place. One of the reasons why grout lines crack is due to MVT, which is pressure build up.

PH Scale:

The PH Scale is important to know. Let me give you a quick run down of the PH Scale.

I think of it as a way to measure chemical strength. ZEP Neutral Floor cleaner has a ph of 7.  The Ph scale range is from 0-14. Anything below 7 is ACID. Anything above 7 is ALKALINE (also known as base.

What does Acid do to:

Wood Floor: Not sure. Ha ha ha. I know that is something I could answer if I googled it or asked one of my Instructors I’ve had in the past. I do remember them saying that it doesn’t do much. I wouldn’t recommend using an Acid based cleaner on your wood floors. An example is: Vinegar, Pine Sol, Fabuloso Lavender, etc.

Natural Stone: NEVER EVER USE AN ACID ON NATURAL STONE! There are some stones (like granite) that are not susceptable to acids but why take the chance? I once went into a home in Longwood when I was called in by a maid service. The installers told them to use vinegar on their brand new marble. This poor maid was crying on the phone begging for my help. I came the next day to the house and the whole floor was etched. Acid releases Calcium in the stone. It makes the stone weaker and if the stone is super shiny, like this maids customers floor was (key word “was”) in Longwood, it won’t be shiny afterwards because the stone will have like a “stubble” feel to it.

I told them what they had to do to correct it. It was a lot of stone and it was thousands of dollars to fix.

Ceramic or Porcelain:

Not much. It can clean a little. The grout will release calcium like the Natural Stone because. Sometimes it will foam when exposed to Acid if not sealed properly. This is another reason why cracks form in Grout. If the Grout is releasing apart of itself everytime it is being cleaned by releasing the calcium it will become weak and eventually break.

What does Alkaline do to:

Wood Floors:

Alkalinity will clean a wood floor but unless rinsed well it will leave a sticky residue behind. Your floors will become dirtier and dirtier because that sticky residue will clean the bottom of your shoes and/or feet.

Natural Stone:

Again, safe to use on stone but if not rinsed it will leave soap on the stone and will do the same thing it does to wood floors.

Ceramic or Porcelain Tile:

And yet again, safe to use on the floor but needs to be neutralized and/or rinsed from the floor or it will just stay there and collect dirt because its cleaning your shoes as you walk over it.

Important Note:

Same thing happens with carpet. If a cleaner uses soap on the carpet (which is good) and just rinses it with water (which is bad) he didn’t neutralize the soap he put down. If you use a ph of 10 you have to rinse the carpet out with a ph of 4 to bring the ph level of the carpet down to 7. If not, spots come back and carpets get dirtier quicker. (you now know more than 75% of all carpet cleaners.)

About the Warning Label on the back of ZEP Neutral Floor Cleaner.

It says in big highligted yellow writing not to use on wood floors and other hard surfaces. Why is that? Well for one, they also sell a wood floor cleaner. And number two, most people mop this on the floor with a bucket and a mop you have to wring out. That is too much wetness for a wood floor. Very low moisture for wood floors.

In a nut shell, ignore that back label. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this little report. Feel free to share with your friends. If you have something you have a question about or would like some clarification please don’t hesistate to ask.

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Many thanks to our friends at Orlando’s Perfect Pear for allowing us to post this great information for our customers.

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