Arsenic is all natural, but it will kill you. There are a lot of “naturally” occurring things that are not good for you.
Similarly, not all advice is good advice. Generally, once we know the facts, we can easily make an informed decision.
Vinegar has been used as a cleaning agent for centuries. As an acid, it can breakdown and remove various dirts and impurities, and it is this very “benefit” that makes it so distructive to marble in particular and all tile floors that have grout. In fact, it is so distructive that 20% of all residential floor restoration is caused by the use of an inappropriate cleaner.
PROBLEM 1: VINEGAR DISSOLVES MARBLE - As an acid, vinegar will react with Calcium Carbonate to form a watersoluble salt, that as the name suggests can be dissolved in water and washed away. Marble is virtually 100% calcium carbonate. So when we clean marble with vinegar we are literally dissolving it away. You can see this simply by cutting a lemon in half an letting it rest face down on a piece of marble. In less than 1 hour it will have burned an image of the lemon into the stone. No amount of cleaning will remove this etch, as it is not dirt or on top of the stone, but rather has dissolved away a portion of the stone. We call this an etch. It will appear as a spill mark, a drink ring mark, a splatter mark depending on how it was introduced to the stone. The saddest and most insidious way, is when one cleans with it, as applied evenly across the floor its deterious effects are not readily seen as the gloss is removed slowly, but consistently as it dulls your floor or counter.
When it is introduced in a spotty fashion, with the spritz of a lemon, or leaving a drink on the counter, or spilling same salad dressing on marble, it will appear as an area that does not reflect, a bad etch will even feel rough. It will look dirty, but no amount of cleaning will remove it. That said, it may look like it went a way briefly only to return. This little trick occurs when water fills in the low spots created by the acid etch on the surface, the water restores a flat surface to the stone capable of once again reflecting light, however once the water has evaporated our dull spot returns.
PROBLEM 2: VINEGAR ON DESTROYS YOUR GROUT’S SEALER – Vinegar attacks grout in a similar but different manner. Its still all about chemistry. You see grout is rather porous. This is why we seal it with a penetrating sealer on installation. That penetrating sealer is generally a silicone based sealer, with an SI-O-SI (silicon-oxygen-silicon) backbone. This chemistry is very stable at pH7. What we consider neutral. Vinegar has a pH of 2.4. At this extreme, the Si-O-Si bond breaks, and the water in which the acid is delivered can dissolve away the broken chain, and in effect remove your grout’s seal. Once the pores in your grout are seal free again, the very act of cleaning your floor is taking dirt and oils from the top of your tile, solubilizing them in water, and transferring them to your grout line, where they are deposited in your now open grout. Ever wonder why grout gets stained over time? Now you know. Acids break down the grout seal.
PROBLEM 3: VINEGAR LEECHES GROUT DYES OUT OF YOUR GROUT - So why does vinegar appear to work? It does. The acid in the vinegar also remove dyes, and as such the lightening we can generally see are the result of our grout dyes being leeched away. Sure the water can remove the some of the dirt and oil ON the grout surface as well. The net result is we see a lighter floor, but in truth we have destroyed are floors seal, and are slowly driving the grout color lighter towards its undyed natural concrete gray color. FIXING THE DAMAGE: PART 1 (FIXING YOUR ETCHED MARBLE PROBLEM) – If your stone is etched. Fear not. MARBLELIFE can re-polish this surface to restore your finish once again. Your marble finish was based on the flatness and your marble surface. Honed and polished to allow light to bounce true to provide the reflection we enjoy on a gloss floor, or with a uniform controlled texture to scatter just enough light to create a satin appearance. MARBLELIFE certified stone craftsman can polish out the damage to restore a quality appearance. You just have to call.
FIXING THE DAMAGE: PART 2 (FIXING YOUR STAINED GROUT PROBLEM) – As to your grout, whether sanded or unsanded, MARBLELIFE has a solution. In less than a shift, we can clean, re-color and seal your grout with a color consistency that is better than when it was first installed, with a sealer that is not acid sensitive, so that this problem cannot return even if an acid cleaner were used again. As such, when done we can actually factually state you will have a better-than-new floor, with a grout color that is more consistent, and is acid resistant. It may still get dirty, but it will clean up with water and a clean rag, or a MARBLELIFE degreasing cleaner as noted below.
YOUR NEW CLEANING SOLUTION: (CLEANING WITHOUT VINEGAR) – Really, its about cleaning without acids. The truth is dirt does not stick to anything unless an oil is introduced. One does not need vinegar or any acid to remove an oil. We need a degreaser. When one studies the problem from a standpoint of defining the root cause, the solution quickly becomes clear. If we want to remove dirts we need simply to attack the grease, fats and oil deposits that bind them to our floors and counters. This means we want a surfactant based cleaning solution, that is non-acidic in order to avoid harming our marble or our grout seals. This was MARBLELIFE’s conclusion when it set about to develop a line of hard surface safe cleaners.
MARBLELIFE’s Marble & Travertine Cleaner, MARBLELIFE Granite & Quartz Cleaner, and MARBLELIFE Tile & Grout Cleaner are formulated to clean effectively and quickly, without introducing unnecessary waxes and oils, to provide a truly clean surface, as defined to be free-from-dirt-or-foreign-material.
- Stay away from tile cleaners that claim to be tile safe without referencing the grout (there is a reason they do so).
- Stay away from vinegar infused, now-with-vinegar, or citrus smelling cleaners (you guessed it orange and lemon scents are created with citric acids).
- Stay away from products that claim to shine-and-clean as these deposit waxes and oils that will trap foods over time, and require professional removal down the road.
- Stay away from glass cleaners which use waxes to fill in wind blown dust created exterior scratches to keep glass flat and light reflecting (while needed outside we do not have this problem inside the home, and those same waxes will need to be professional removed later).
MARBLELIFE’s cleaner are designed to clean effectively, so that the natural appearance of the surface you installed can be seen in its true and best light. You don’t need waxes to see a polished marble surface, or acids to clean it. You need an effective solution to the problem you are seeking to address, to remove kitchen and body oils, greases and fats and the dirt that is sticking to it, so you have a clean, healthy chemical-free surface.