Hi there. I live in an old brownstone and have those small white hexagonal tiles in my bathroom (like most other old brownstones in Boston). They are quite old and are now pretty dingy. I have tried cleaning them with bleach, to no avail.
Borax works best in getting out those hard water stains, and other nastiness that collects over time in your tub and shower.. I would try that you wont have the smell from bleach.
or you can wipe it down real good with vinegar, then
pour baking soda on and scrub it real good.
Are they the floor tiles?? Part of the charm of those old places is the old tiles. Scrub them as best as you can and learn to love their look. You can try putting a finish on them with something like Future Acrylic Floor Finish, but it will need to be redone regularly. (Strip with ammonia)
I had the same problem with an old sink in my bathroom. I spray painted it with a glossy pearlized cream color and it looks beautiful!
If the surface glaze is worn off and the actual clay of the tiles is discoloured I don't think there's anything you can do but re-coat the them, You can get paint specifically for tiles and should follow the instructions for application on the container.
If the glaze is in tact try sanding the surface with very fine grade sandpaper called 'wet and dry' - its black and can be used with water. Start with a 600 grade grit and just buy one sheet first off to see if it makes a difference. If it has no effect go to a lower grade coarser grit such as 400. This will not harm the glaze - I use it for stubborn stains in the toilet and porcelain sinks. Use a bucket of water and a cloth to wipe after scrubbing. It just works as a mild abrasive - like baking soda but cheaper - and will remove ground in dirt, mineral scale and floor sealer/polish build up. You may have to rub quite hard on the one area for a while but if it restores the tiles it will be worth it!
Bar Keeper's Friend! Check out theirwebsite:barkeepersfriend.com I use this product on tile, glass, fiberglass, stainlees steel, brass ( it's a polisher!), porcelin sinks/tubs, plastic-even white wall tires!
Besides the basics: vinegar & baking soda it's just about the only cleaner I use. Mix it as a paste with water. Use fingers or a toothbrush to apply. You will be amazed with this product. I'm on the West Coast. I get it at Walmart and some grocery stores but you can check out their website. Happy cleaning! :)
Try the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on them. Work well on my tile floor and works great to get grout clean. Will take some elbow grease, but it is worth a try.
Did any of those tips work? We just found the same thing in our old bathroom-but I can't get them white.
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