Thursday, June 3, 2010

Who says natural cleaning products don't work?

I certainly don't anymore!  We had some seriously nasty tile in our kitchen. Well, the tile was great, but the grout hadn't been cleaned off well and was stuck to the tiles so they always looked dirty. And since that self same grout was never sealed properly, it was FILTHY. All the time, no matter how I tried to clean it. I mean, see for yourself:

Ok, now- as a chorus: "EWWW." 

So, as part of our recent kitchen remodel, I took advantage of the lack of kitchen cabinets (well, lack of  anything really..even walls!) and decided to really deep clean this area. Since there was no need to be in the kitchen as it wasn't like we had FOOD there so now was the time if I had to use a nasty chemical to strip the dirt out of the grout. I figured I could seal the area off, stick a fan aimed at the vent hole and shut it up until the fumes were gone if I had to. But I didn't want to. I mean, chemicals can be seriously nasty stuff. I was a college chemistry minor; I know! So after a lot of googling, I came down to two options for removal of the excess grout and dirt:
  1. Use muratic acid to remove the excess grout and heavy duty grout cleaner for the dirt in the grout. I knew it would work, but muratic acid is heavy duty stuff I didn't really want to go near, let alone spending several hours crawling around in.
  2. Use baking soda and a putty knife for the excess grout. This might or might not work, but I figured it couldn't hurt anything, so why not at least try it?
BOY am I glad I did! I could not believe my eyes when that grout started coming off the tiles with a putty knife. (You know, those metal scraper things you use to fill holes in walls. It looks like a fat, flexible flat head screwdriver and comes in various widths. Mine was a 2"er)  A quick wipe with a damp cloth, and most of it was gone! Now I'm sitting there going, 'I should've done this ages ago!'  and wondering why I didn't!

Then I got stumped, trying to figure out how to get the last bits of it out of the tiles' texture. See, floor tile has a texture to it to keep you from slipping on it and mine, well, it looked like my thighs. Seriously, the only way to describe the texture of these is that it looks like cellulite. Hence, it looks like my thighs. sigh  So while I'm sitting there, stumped on how to get to the 100% clean I so desperately desire, I decide to remove the heel marks I've left all over the tile before moving on. Enter the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Just for the heck of it, I swiped it over the remaining grout stuck in the cellulite dimples. (On the tile, people, not on me!) And it came off. That nasty excess grout that always made my floor look dirty was GONE.  Completely. Now I'm grinning ear to ear and madly wiping the little bits up and generally acting like a crazy person...because the grout on the tiles is gone!!  I'm sad to say, when I stood up and looked at the kitchen floor once I'd removed all that nastiness,  I did a happy caroling dance of pure joy that woke my poor hubby out of a sound sleep. It was 2am, after all. I just hope I didn't wake the neighbors, too!

Moral of the story: do not believe you need chemicals to tackle a dirty job. Start simple, start easy, start safe. Try it.  And then be joyful when it works....unless it's 2am, of course!

Part two of the experiment tomorrow: the grungy grout lines!

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