Q: DEAR TIM: Cleaning a tile floor is my next big project. The grout lines are filthy, and I haven't discovered an easy way to restore the tile. Is there a magic product that will clean floor tile? Once the grout is clean, what's the easiest way to keep it that way? Should I invest in a cleaning machine? -- Michelle S., Corvallis, Ore.
A: DEAR MICHELLE: We had a boatload of tile floors in our last home, and cleaning them was a nightmare. To make it worse, we had brilliant white tile with light gray grout in our kitchen and breakfast area. I knew when I was installing it that it was going to be a challenge to keep it clean. Add to the mix three small kids, and soon the grout around the refrigerator, stove and kitchen sink was nearly black.
It took me years to discover how to clean tile floors in a way that was easy and that didn't harm my family, pets and the colored grout. I finally settled on using powdered oxygen bleach. Little did I know that this choice would put me way ahead of the current green movement.