This is an interesting subject and a common problem not only in commercial locations but also in residential homes. However, it is far more prevalent in commercial sites. This is primarily due to the nature of office equipment, displays, gondolas in retail stores, etc. This article addresses why it occurred and how to remove rust from the tile floor. Also listed is the necessary products and supplies to complete the rust removing task. It is a difficult stain to remove and if imbedded deep into the tile, tile is more than likely damaged. If this happens, it may be simpler to replace the tile. With that said, the following process will take care of surface rust stains and the majority of deeply penetrated rust stains.       


How to Clean Tile Floors – Why Rust Stains Occur on Tile Floors


Rust occurs on a tile floor through metal that is resting on the tile. The metal contacting the floor becomes wet through normal daily cleaning procedures causing the metal to rust and transfer the rust to the tile floor.       

It occurs primarily in commercial accounts where metal glides on furniture legs, display cases, file cabinets, book shelves, etc. are making constant contact with the floor. In retail stores these rust issues are rather common and create an unsightly appearance to their floors. Retailers are very concerned about providing their customers with a clean, friendly and pleasant shopping experience. Thus it is important to them to clean the rust from the floor.    


How to Clean Tile Floors – Rust Removal Procedures, Step by Step – Commercial or Residential


Procedure: Always test the rust remover on the tile floor in a hidden area for any adverse effects on the tile. Testing it first will prevent the possible damage to the tile flooring in a larger visible area.      

  1. Block off area and place “Wet Floor” signs in area to be cleaned in commercial locations but is impractical in a home.
  2. Sweep or dust mop the loose debris and remove from the floor.
  3. Use the Rust Remover (Acid base) sparingly on the rust stain and apply according to label directions.
    Before trying to remove the rust stain, consider the age, condition and the type of tile because acid based rust removers may have an adverse effect on or damage VCT (Vinyl Composition Tile). Working in smaller controllable areas is recommended because it allows the rust remover solution to be picked up, rinsed with clear water and neutralized with an alkaline base conditioner before the solution has had spent too much time on the floor to cause damage. Following this recommendation will assist in reducing the possible damage to the tile floor.
  4. Lightly provide agitation to the treated rust stain with a brush, doodlebug pad, steel wool, etc.
  5. Pick up Rust Remover cleaning solution from the tile floor.
  6. Utilizing a mop and bucket filled with clear potable water, rinse the cleaned area thoroughly.
  7. Apply a neutralizer conditional or alkaline cleaner to cleaned area.
  8. Utilizing a mop and bucket filled with clear potable water, rinse the cleaned area thoroughly.
    Note: Always rinse and neutralize the tile floor that was just cleaned with a rust remover. Otherwise the risk of damaging the tile increases. Always insure that these steps are followed as part of the rust removal cleaning process.  


IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE:  Always post Wet Floor signs whenever using liquids on floors including plain water.  Also, always wear appropriate personal protective gear (goggles, gloves, proper protective footwear and aprons) when dealing with cleaning chemicals.  


How to Clean Tile Floors – Products and Supplies


Equipment Required: 

  • Wet Floor Signs or Caution Tape
  • Dust Mop or Broom
  • Deck Brush, Doodlebug Pads, Steel Wool or Other Scrub Tools
  • Wet Mop with Handle
  • Bucket Filled with Clear Water
  • Acid Based Rust Remover
  • Neutralizer Conditioner
  • Personal Protection Equipment – boots, goggles, gloves, etc. (Refer to Product Label and Product Material Safety Data Sheet)


How to Clean Tile Floors – Helpful Additional Reference Websites


Whink Products – Rust Remover  

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