Tile and Error

The Challenge: To deep clean the tile in my laundry room/mud room.

My Inspiration: Last week I said I was deep cleaning tile and I wasn’t joking. One would assume I was joking because there is perhaps nothing more interesting and exciting than deep cleaning tile. Nevertheless, it needed to be done.

Here’s how the story goes…

The previous owners of my house installed a porous, textured tile in what is now our laundry room/mud room.  As the years have gone by, I have grown more and more frustrated with the tile’s cleanliness and ask myself constantly:


Seriously… why would anyone install it?!

I know that there is a certain degree of “mud” that will inevitably accrue in a “mud room”, but this tile collects mud and never lets it go. No matter how many times I wash it and how much elbow grease I use, I cannot get this tile clean! I pride myself on the cleanliness of my floors and the floor in my laundry room keeps me up at night. Ok, it doesn’t keep me up at night (crying babies do!) but it does really, really bug me. I have covered most of the floor with large rugs, but there is still enough exposed tile to irritate me.

My Mom, my cleanliness sensei, brainstormed with me and we decided that using heavy duty tile cleaner and heavy duty scrubbing was the way to go. We went to Home Depot and bought the supplies and 5 weeks after I originally intentioned to do it, I finally began this project.

Here’s two examples of what I’m talking about:





Podcast I Listened to (a new section!):  I’m a huge lover of podcasts so I’m going to feature one of my favorites each week. This week I’ve chosen “Seincast” since I made my own Jerry Seinfeld meme above.

I am a huge lover of Seinfeld and so of course I listen to Seincast – “a retrospective on all 180 episodes of Seinfeld hosted by 2 guys who can barely run their own lives”. Each week they discuss the excruciating minutia of a Seinfeld episode. They’ve been doing this podcast since 2014 and they are just starting season 8’s episodes. They do an awesome job integrating audio clips and they always have great trivia to share. Since I started listening to this podcast, my Seinfeld fandom has increased to an obnoxious level — just ask anyone around me if I can go a day without making a Seinfeld reference.

What I Need: 


The nylon brush is the star of the show – it was indispensable!

The small bucket was for diluting the cleaner, which I did for a little while. I gave up because I want to expedite acquiring any health issues from chemical exposure…. and because I didn’t think diluting it was loosening the dirt enough.

Who is Helping Me: Like I mentioned before, my Mom, my cleaning hero, helped me make a plan and buy my supplies.

Who is NOT Helping Me: It’s not his fault, but my sweet little 6 week old baby and the constant care he requires made this project a nap time only activity. I didn’t want him anywhere near the fumes or splashes of chemicals so he couldn’t be near me during this project whatsoever. During his nap times, I would hurry to the room and scrub as many tiles as I could before he’d wake up again. My toddler and my husband weren’t home when I did this project so I had to make sure I got it done as quickly as possible before they returned home.

How I Did It:

  1. Gather supplies and take before photos. Open windows to draft fumes
  2. Clear away rugs and vacuum floor
  3. Read instructions for how to use the cleaner and then promptly ignore them
  4. Systematically soak and vigorously scrub each tile
  5. Mop the floor with water to remove dirt and cleaning solution
  6. Let the room air out with the windows open to clear out the fumes and dry the tile
  7. Take after photos (see below for further explanation)

You’re probably wondering… “Why did she title this blog “Tile and Error”? Well, besides being a clever play on words, I did make one mistake. Remember when I mentioned taking before and after photos in my step-by-step instructions? What I didn’t mention in the steps was: REMEMBER WHERE YOU TOOK YOUR BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS! See, I did indeed take a lot of comparative photos, but when all that distinguishes each photo of tile from the next is very minuscule changes in the tile’s texture, you really have no idea what you’re comparing! Here I was just ignorantly snapping away before photos all over the room without even considering that I should remember which tiles they were. I was literally going all over the room snapping from one corner to the next and back again with no system, no order, no logic. When it came time to take the after photos I had about 20 photos that looked exactly like this:

IMG_0050.JPGTake my word for it that every tile in my laundry room looks like this photo.

I uploaded all the before photos to my computer so I could get a better look at them and I got down on my hands and knees and really studied each tile to find a match. Without the disgusting dirt embedded in the tiles anymore, I lost some of the the distinguishing characteristics that may have helped identify them. Stupidly, I had 5 photos of just grout intersections that could have been any of the dozens of ground intersections in the room. It was ridiculous. Thankfully, I remembered where I took the first and the last before photos and that was all I could go by and that’s all you will see. You’ll have to trust me that the difference was very noticeable before and after my cleaning.

Final Results/Would I Do It Again?: 



Yes, I’d do it again. I feel I was very successful in making a significant and noticeable difference in the cleanliness of the tile. I wasn’t able to get all the dirt, but I got enough of it to ease my anxiety about it. You wouldn’t walk into the room and go “Whoa! New tile?” but when you’re bending down to tie your shoe and you look at the tile, you may say “Why did they put porous tile in a mud room? It looks kinda dirty.”

It was hard work. The scrubbing put my carpal tunnel syndrome to the test.

Remember this GIF?swift

I had to “shake it off” like Taylor a few times, but thankfully only working in spurts between naps helped keep the severe numbing and pain at bay. Because of the intensity of the work, the need to keep young children away from brain damaging VOCs and never having 6 continuous hours without having to tend to children, I think cleaning my floor in this manner will be a once every 3-4 months project.

Oh.. and no, I didn’t simultaneously pump breastmilk and clean the tile.. but if it were physically possible, I would have. Thank me later for that visual I just gave you.




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