Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers


Is your tile cleaner ruining your grout?

The best tile installation can be ruined over time by using the wrong cleaner.

We got high praise from the owner, the contractor, and the architect when we completed a local medical facility several years ago. However, when the owner contacted us recently, they weren’t so pleased with the look of their installation,enzymatic cleaner damage

It seems the epoxy grout we had installed (as per the specifications) was deteriorating, leaving gaps and very unsightly grout joints throughout the project. The grout we used at that time was a new brand to the market, but was approved by all authorities for a commercial installation.

When we went to evaluate the current situation for the customer, we observed that the areas closest to the walls and out of the normal traffic pattern were in-tact, and the grout still looked good. However, the area where routine cleaning had taken place were the areas of greatest deterioration.

We suggested the building owner find out what kind of cleaner the maintenance crew has been using. You see, a newer type of “no rinse” cleaner is often used in commercial applications. These enzymatic cleaners accelerate the breakdown of products such as sugars, fats, proteins, and body fluids. And, because they are left on the floors overnight, the byproduct of the breakdown is acidic and cumulative. After days, and weeks of using this type of cleaner, a highly acidic solution develops that rapidly deteriorates grouts.

There are some newer grouts that have been developed to withstand these harsh cleaners, but these must be specified prior to tile installation and most manufacturers still will not warranty their products against ‘no rinse’ cleaners.

Keep your new tile installation looking good by cleaning it with the proper product. We give our customers maintenance instructions, and always recommend a pH-neutral cleaner be used on tile and grout. Vinegar, bleach, “no rinse”, and acidic cleaners used over time are damaging to grout – of any kind.

It matters who installs your tile – and it matters how you maintain it!


Grout ‘worms’? Lurking in a well-used shower

grout worm

Tiny larvae in a shower

15 years ago it seemed like a prank call when someone told us they had a problem with ‘grout worms’ in their shower, but now our service manager has taken a picture of what was likely lurking in the crevices of that shower and several others we’ve seen lately — tiny larvae that grow into little flies and thrive in the damp recesses of a well-used shower.

grout worm's shower

Breeding ground for mildew

When life gets away from us and routine cleaning with a PH Neutral cleaner isn’t done regularly, a shower can be a great breeding ground for mold and mildew. [It takes 3 things for mildew to thrive — a food source (soap scum and skin cells), water, and absence of light.] Many showers are poorly ventilated (or the fan is not used properly), and long showers and sporadic cleaning make them the perfect breeding ground for mildew and the tiny mites our caller was referring to as “grout worms.”

On the opposite extreme, we have also seen these larvae in over-cleaned grout lines. Each time bleach or some other overly harsh product is used, the pores of the grout open more, and mold and mildew are given an even better nesting place. This is why some people tell us that the more they clean, the more quickly mildew & other scum seems to develop. It’s because they are cleaning with a product that is too harsh for the grout, and they are actually eroding the cement in the grout.

Tile and grout are meant to last a long time, but, like all things, they have to be properly maintained. When you clean, do yourself, the environment, and your grout a favor and use a pH Neutral cleaner. It will make your grout last longer, do a better job of keeping away any “grout worms” and help your tile installation remain one of the trouble-free parts of your home. (Assuming it’s installed correctly in the first place, of course.)

Here’s to good installations and no more calls about “grout worms”  🙂


Bleach isn’t cleaning my tile

Cleaning your tile with bleach-based products may seem like a good solution to get rid of the ‘gunk’ growing in your shower, but it may have the exact opposite effect. Bleach-based products sold by many manufacturers as “mildew solutions or preventives” actually open the pores of the grout between your tiles and encourage the growth of even more bacteria.

This can cause your cementitious grout to deteriorate, and it can make your grout more susceptible to bacteria growth, meaning you’ll be cleaning it even more often. This works well for manufacturers of off-the-shelf, bleach-based products, but it’s causing more work for you, costing you extra money, and releasing more chemicals into your environment.

Save yourself some work and give your grout (and your lungs) a break — clean tile and grout ONLY with pH-Neutral cleaners and a stiff-bristle brush. (pH-Neutral cleaners are neither acidic nor alkaline.) Routine squeegeeing of your tile will also help it stay cleaner longer. Remember, you chose tile because it was easy to maintain; don’t make extra work for yourself. 😉

There are many good pH-Neutral tile cleaners sold at local tile distributors, or you can check out our website,, for links to our favorites.

See our related post offering some ‘green’ tile cleaning options –


Tile cleaning before and after

Here’s a quick, fun Friday post:

Scroll down for a before-and-after picture of a grout transformation.

We installed this kitchen tile 6 years ago, and it’s had some heavy-duty traffic, so the grout had gotten pretty dingy. A thorough clean from our technicians, and the floor looks as good as it did when it was new!Floor tile after our heavy-duty clean

Tile and grout renewed after our heavy-duty cleaning.

Clean grout and tile.

Kitchen tile with 6 years of heavy traffic.

Tile in need of a thorough cleaning

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Mopping tile is not thorough cleaning

“Mopping a floor is not a method of thorough cleaning; it is a method of minimal soil removal and primarily a means of soil redistribution over a broad area. While a mop picks up very little soil it makes a great application tool for many cleaning products.
Cleaners work by loosening and suspending soils for removal. To effectively clean a floor a product must be applied, allowed to dwell on the surface loosening the soil, abraded by the appropriate means, removed by extraction then rinsed followed by more extraction. Sounds like a lot of work and it is. Intensive cleaning is usually done with alkaline floor cleaners. They are favored for their aggressive removal of soils but as previously mentioned; require a good rinse after use, especially if a floor is to be sealed.”
Great floor care advice from Dave Gobis in a recent Tile Magazine article. Check out his do’s and don’ts for maintenance.

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Cleaning/ preventing grout mildew

Bleach-based cleaners will kill mold and mildew (temporarily) but they will also kill your grout. Over time, these harsh products will turn your grout to chalk, and it will wash out little by little.

The best defense against mildew is prevention! Increase the ventilation in the room. Leave the shower door open after you bathe. Let the exhaust fan run at least 20-30 minutes after use. Open a window. The next best weapon is a squeegee. Run it over your tile before you step out of the shower to eliminate water hanging around inviting the mold and mildew spores to take root.

The best cleaners for tile and grout have a Neutral PH. That means it is neither too acidic or too alkaline and will not harm your tile or grout. Some of our favorites are sold by Aqua Mix: Aqua Mix Products

Sealing your tile and grout may also help. Check out the sealers at TEC Products. These water-based sealers allow moisture and air out but none in, helping starve mold and mildew. Or take the extra step to eliminate future growth altogether with new antimicrobial SHIELD. Check out
You can always contact Leigh in our service department for more details!

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To Seal Grout or Not to Seal?

Applying a high quality sealant to your tile’s grout can be an extra layer of stain-fighting protection, but you’ll need to know your products to see if it’s necessary in your installation.

— Traditional cement-based grouts benefit from a topical sealant which keeps stains on the surface rather than allowing them to penetrate;

— Many of today’s grouts add stain-resisters to the base grout powder, and an additional sealant would be redundant;

— Additives can add stain-resistance to the water used to mix grout as it is installed;

— Some grouts are specifically formulated to resist stains and bacterial growth.

A knowledgeable tile installation company can explain the range of grout and sealant options for your job and assist you in selecting the right product.

— Other sealant notes:

Natural stones installed by Neuse Tile are sealed before arrival on a job site because their innate porosity can cause them absorb pigment from setting materials and grout. Most ceramic and porcelain tiles do not need to be sealed because of the protective glaze already fired onto surfaces.

Before applying a topical sealant to cement-based grout, allow the grout to completely cure — at least two weeks after initial installation. Don’t take chances with this permanent investment in your home.

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Natural Tile Cleaners

One great feature of tile is that it can be maintained with clean water and a microfiber cloth. If you’re resolving to ‘go green’ in the new year, our Certified Green Cleaning Specialist makes these suggestions for occasional cleaning:

–Liquid Castile Soap — derived mostly from plant-based oils. Add 1 part soap to 4 parts warm water for normal cleaning. This is a good all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant. Apply soap solution with a microfiber cloth, then rinse with clean water.

— Hydrogen Peroxide 3% solution — will remove stains, disinfect, and treat some mold. Fill a spray bottle with 1/2 peroxide and 1/2 warm water. Spray on surfaces and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. Use caution with colored grout as peroxide is a natural bleach. Wet surfaces prior to application.

— Borax -commonly found in the detergent aisle at the grocery store, this can be used as a scouring powder and odor neutralizer. Dilute 1/4 cup of Borax in a gallon of water to clean hard surfaces. Rinse with a clean cloth.

— Microfiber cloth – Uses thousands of tiny scrubbing surfaces to pick up grime, grit, and grease.

Be sure to test any new cleaner in an inconspicuous area first.