Turpentine, also known as oil of turpentine, is a liquid yellow or clear substance that is produced from pine gum or pine wood. Though it is more commonly used as a paint thinner, polisher or for a raw material in the chemical industry, you can use turpentine to clean various surfaces in your bathroom, including shower tiles and the grout between the tiles.
Cleaning Shower Tile Grout
Turpentine can clean tile grouts that are made from latex or polymers. Apply a small amount of turpentine to a scrub brush, sponge or rag and scrub the grout that is stained. After you have scrubbed the grout, wash the turpentine away immediately with warm, soapy water.
Cleaning Wax and Paint Off Tiles
Whether you accidentally spilled candle wax on your tiles after your last romantic bath, or your tiles are pocked with paint from a bathroom remodel, you can use turpentine to remove the substances. For wax, scrape as much off as possible with a sharp blade, then apply turpentine to a clean rag and scrub the area where the wax had set. Leave the turpentine to work on the area for a few minutes before rinsing the area with an alkaline-based detergent and water. For paint, apply turpentine to a clean rag, then scrub the stained area until the paint thins. Rinse the area with water.
Cleaning Other Stains
You may have other stubborn stains on tile that you can't get out with traditional tile cleaners, such as marker or crayon stains, or even stains that have set due to prolonged exposure to dirt, dust and grease. Clean the area thoroughly with soap and water, then rinse. When the area is dry, apply turpentine to a clean rag and scrub the tiles thoroughly. Let the turpentine set for a few minutes on the tiles, then rinse them thoroughly with water.
Turpentine is mildly toxic, so keep it out of the reach of children and pets. Call Poison Control immediately if you or someone else accidentally ingests turpentine. Some people develop a skin irritation when working with turpentine, so wear gloves when cleaning your shower tiles to prevent such an irritation. Open windows and run the exhaust fan to ensure proper ventilation. If that's not possible, wear a respirator when working with turpentine.
Jessica Jewell is a writer, photographer and communications consultant who began writing professionally in 2005. Her chapbook, "Slap Leather," is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Her recent work has appeared in "Nimrod," "Harpur Palate," "Copper Nickel," "Rhino," "wicked alice," "Poetry Midwest" and "Barn Owl Review." Jewell was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University.