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There Is A Secret To Cleaning Tile Floors And I Know The Secret

Photo: Jairo Alzate (Unsplash)
SqualorJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She’ll be here every week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? Email her.

This week’s Squalor is inspired by our very own Shep McAllister, who pinged me in Slack to bemoan the state of the tile floors in his bathroom. “I’ve tried everything!”

Well, look. I’m smart enough not to call the boss a liar right to his face but also I am deeply committed to sharing the truth with you here in this column, so: He’s a liar. He hadn’t tried everything and I knew without even having to ask that he hadn’t tried everything because if he had tried everything, or rather, one very specific thing, I wouldn’t be witnessing the keening and rending of garments that was going on in my DMs.

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Here’s the thing he didn’t try, that’s actually the secret to cleaning grouted tile flooring that’s gone hopelessly dingy.

OxiClean, $8
Graphic: Ana Luisa Suarez

Oh I know, I know, you’re all, “How many times is this woman going to push OxiClean on us? Who does she think she is, the ghost of Billy Mays?” And the answers to those questions are, “infinity” and “y- ……………...es.”

Let’s get into the weeds of this thing, because there are some details and techniques and processes involved.

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First up, you want the OG Oxi for this jobbie.

Then, you want to mix a scoop of the Oxi with a quart to a gallon of HOT water (depending on how much floor you have). Hot water is important because it will dissolve the powder but also because it will activate the Oxi’s Oxi powers.

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Next, you’re going to pour the Oxi solution in a thin layer on the floor. DO NOT FLOOD IT, NOAH. A thin layer is what we’re going for here; to facilitate more precise pouring, you can mix the Oxi solution in a measuring cup with a lip or in a pitcher like this one.

Another technique that helps to control things is pouring the solution on the floor in an S-shape and then using a scrub brush to spread it out.

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Work in sections, from the back of the bathroom, moving toward the door. As you apply the Oxi solution, use a scrub brush to spread the solution and chh-chh-chh it a little bit into the tile and grout.

But! Do not exert a lot of effort with the scrubbing! You don’t need to. And here’s why: Once you get the floor entirely covered and chh-chh-chh’d with a thin layer of the Oxi solution, you’re going to walk away and just let the solution do its thing on your floors for 30-60 minutes.

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After letting the Oxi do its Oxi thing, head back in with a mop, or if you’re willing to get down on your hands and knees, a sponge or microfiber cloths and wipe the solution up, then give the floor another pass with clean water to remove any residue. The grout won’t look demonstrably brighter and you will be like, “What the hell, Jolie?!?”

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BUT! As the grout dries, its newfound brightness will emerge, all without any heavy-duty scrubbing on your part and you will be like, “What the hell, Jolie?!?” but, like, in a good way.


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About the author

Jolie Kerr

Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast Ask a Clean Person