Can I Acid Wash a Bathroom Tile Floor?

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Bathroom floors get dirty, it's a fact of life. And anyone who's ever had to clean a bathroom floor knows it can be a challenge to get it looking as good as new. As long as you know what you're doing, acid washing your bathroom tile floor can remove all the tough-to-get grime and grit, especially within the grouting. One of the most readily available products for home use is sulfamic acid. However, not all products are appropriate for all floor types. Acid sensitive stones such as marble, limestone, travertine and colored granite may sustain discoloration or other damage from an acid wash.


Cleaning and Preparation

Before you begin, sweep, dust and otherwise remove all the hair and dirt from the floor that you can. The better a job you do now, the less you'll have to deal with wet and nasty dust bunnies later. Once you are done with this initial cleanup, mix 1 cup of acid-based cleaner with a bucket (about 1.5 gallons) of hot water. Use an an acid-based cleaner that is industry-standard and tile-cleaning-strength. Check the container to verify the correct ratio of acid to water, as this may vary from product to product.


Acid Washing

Spray or throw water on small areas of the tile floor, then apply the acid solution to the wet area with a sponge or mop and scrub gently. Flush with water to rinse and move on to the next section.Continue this process over the entire bathroom floor, making sure to keep the area you are working on wet.


Neutralizing the Acid Wash

Thoroughly rinse all the acid wash off the bathroom tile floor after you are done cleaning. Leaving acid on the floor can be damaging to you and the floor. Aside from rinsing the floor thoroughly twice, you may want to neutralize the acid with baking soda, especially if you are using sulfamic acid or another strong product. To rinse with baking soda, mix 1 cup baking soda with a bucket of warm water. Mop the floor with the mixture to neutralize the acid. Rinse the floor with plain water and let it dry for up to 24 hours. Some acid wash products also require the use of a sealant afterwords.


Safety Precautions

Most acid-based bathroom cleaners are somewhat toxic and the ingredients in them can produce toxic fumes. If incorrectly used, these cleaners can even prove damaging to materials such as carpet, metal, wood and glass. Because of the health hazards associated with acid-based cleaners, you should always wear gloves and goggles when cleaning with them. Also ventilate the area you are working in as much as possible to help keep the fumes from concentrating. You may find citric acid to be a good alternative to other, more toxic acid-based cleaners. It is environmentally friendly, cheap and kills bathroom bacteria and mold with ease.



Ariel Phillips

Ariel Phillips is an editor and writer living in Portland, Ore. He has written for "n+1 Journal" and "The Rumpus Magazine," among others. He maintains an interest in a variety of subjects, including art, culture, the environment, media, the sciences and sports. He earned bachelor's degrees in art and philosophy from the University of California, Santa Barbara.