A clean home has always been a thing. It was part of the great tradition of “being house proud” and we learnt it from our grannies, gogos, mamas and aunties.
But being house proud isn’t enough to stop infection in COVID times. Clean turned into ‘Corona Clean’ in 2020. The fear of contagion has driven us to ramp up our domestic and commercial protocols. And we’ve all become Wiki-specialists in the science of anti-viral cleaning and healthier, more hygienic practices. We all know, now, that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can live on some surfaces for days.
It will come as some relief to those who fear contamination at home, that good old household soap can literally burst the virus’s protective bubble. And our trusty household cleaners and detergents mostly proclaim victory over 99.9% of nasties.
We “Jik it” more than ever before! To the surprise of no one, in 2020, bleach sales spiked like nobody’s business (a colossal 138%), but then so did vodka (by 104%, LOL).
Healthier Homes. Healthier Attitudes. Healthier living has become a central focus of The Better Normal we are striving to achieve as Lockdown levels lift. Creating cosier, welcoming and even warmer sanctuaries that offer optimum safety and maximum solace. As much as we are keeping out contagion, we are also keeping fear at bay. Sanitising and mask-wearing have become extreme acts of love and respect, to self and others. But healthier living is much more than applying protective products.
An important part of #TheHealthierHome movement is a healthy attitude towards how we live our lives, a sense of proportion with caution over fear, with mindfulness in the approach to what we buy, consume, wear... to protect our loved ones, our communities and the world as a whole. Now is the time to ask the hard questions about the life cycles of the products we choose: where they come from, what they’re made from, and where they go to after use. Green living is no longer a nice to do. It’s a must do.
The Meaning of Greening. For us, the green journey is one of continuous improvement, auditing and regulating and just doing better, day by day. Finding ways to plug into a circular economy and more sustainable ways has led us to get our showrooms off the grid, and onto solar power. We’re not just going green... we’re also going grey - with grey water filtration and recycling systems. We’re committed to achieving our goals, one store at a time, and we’ll keep you updated. Check out Italtile’s LiveGreen journey and the road so far.
When Sanitising’s the Question, Porcelain Tiles are the Answer. Remember, porcelain tiles are so much easier to keep clean and disinfected than carpeting or wood, and have become the floor and wall surface of choice in the fight against home contagion.
Porcelain Tiles Lead the Way to a Healthier Home. Among all the existing materials, porcelain is definitely one of the best solutions to create safe, hygienic spaces where we can also spend a lot of time with maximum peace of mind. It’s actually a material with natural origins (clay or kaolin), and does not contain plastic, asbestos, formaldehyde, radon or other harmful substances.
Thanks to the firing process at between 1 200°C and 1 400 °C, which eliminates all biological residues and volatile organic compounds called VOCs, porcelain tiles do not release harmful or toxic substances, even in the event of fire. This process of heating and then cooling causes vitrification, which results in a compact surface - what we call non-porous - that does not retain water, dirt, dust, bacteria or dust mites.
Porcelain floor and wall tiles are perfect for environments where there is a constant water presence, such as bathrooms, swimming pools or spas, because they are impermeable to liquids, resistant to moulds, fungi and bacteria, and have excellent anti-slip performance. Porcelain tiles can withstand all the cleaning, sanitising and disinfectant products that seem to be multiplying in these Pandemmy times.
Innovation in technology has enabled the development of gigantic tile formats. Monumental slabs – we call them XXL – create extraordinary floorspaces and wall installations. Ito health and safety, large format tiles also mean fewer grout lines, which means far less space for dirt, grime and bacteria to get trapped. Of course, our amazing hi tech grouts are designed to repel bacteria, but more of that later. Meantime, shop our XXLs here.
Slip-Resistant Tiles Tick all the Health and Safety Boxes. Falls are the leading source of injuries for our older citizens. But while there are a good few precautions you can take to minimise risk – grab rails, rug tape, remove trip hazards, sensible footwear, non-slip bathroom mats – your best bet here is to install high quality slip-resistant porcelain tiles.
But let’s be honest here, you don’t have to be elderly to lose your footing. Even the most agile among us can take a tumble on a slippery floor. Slip-resistant flooring is a must have outdoors and advisable indoors too. Most of our luxury porcelain tiles offer high grade, slip-resistant variants. In fact, we stock South Africa’s widest range of international and local slip-resistant tiles across all the trending looks – screeds, stones, woods, oxidised metals and marbles. So get a grip and shop our ranges here: www.italtile.co.za
For unbeatable slip resistance, though, no tile can better our exclusive, rugged In2Out range. This is an all-weather, all-terrain tile. The wetter it gets, the better it grips. In fact, water literally helps create friction on the tile surface, thanks to extraordinary resistance technology. These 2cm thick toughies go anywhere. Across uneven lawns, around pools and patios, along gravel paths or as a surround for water features. Check out In2Out here: https://www.italtile.co.za/floors/featured-collections/2in-2out-category.html
Grout those Germs Out. Grout. Very often an afterthought, but not at Italtile. Grout, along with the correct adhesive, is an ingredient crucial to the success of your flooring and wallscape. Grout has evolved into a magical tile frame, with a range of utterly enchanting hues to enhance your choice of tile... including glitter finishes for ultimate glamour. But at heart, grout is all about beauty with a purpose. Italtile stocks the Litikol Starlike Defender range of grouts and adhesives, developed to kill 99% of germs. It’s a level of continuous action you can trust for long-term protection of your family. A hyper-allergenic formulation has been scientifically proven to attack and kill bacteria and mould. This floor and wall protection army is also UV and acid resistant. That means your tiles remain beautifully in place and perfectly framed for years to come.
The range includes products for specialist application areas, like pool areas, gyms and wine cellars. View our fabulous infection fighters here: Litikol Starlike Defender
Tile and Floor Care. Italtile’s tiles are an investment in long-term beautiful living and should be used in conjunction with really top quality cleaners, sealants and maintenance products. With this in mind we have chosen to stock TFC products: https://www.italtile.co.za/search/tfc
Reimagining home entry. Washing hands, sanitising, keeping germs at bay, these have all become table stakes in the fight against contagion. But wait, there’s more! Now that we’re shopping online and getting courier deliveries, there is an increased concern for the hygiene chain when many hands have touched a delivery. Parcels are being left outside the door. But this means a rise in theft. Architects are being asked to design anti-viral delivery areas where parcels can be dropped into a locked area with a built-in recycling unit for packaging. That’s smart thinking!
No-touch tap tech. Long before COVID-19 became a global pandemic, in fact, since ‘mid-century’ times, the R & D teams over at Idral in Italy were pushing the frontiers of tapology, under the mandate of ‘safe enough isn’t safe enough’.
Italtile’s commercial consultants have been advocating for touchless tech in their commercial bathroom projects, and Idral’s hands-free foot operated taps and electronic taps with infra-red sensing and automatic rinsing are front and centre in all our presentations.
Automatic rinsing is the hidden helper you never knew you needed. With Idral technology, it kicks in every 24 hours to avoid the danger of standing water in pipes which encourages the growth of Legionella bacteria. These are the nasties that cause Legionnaire’s Disease - a horrible form of Pneumonia. So we’re thinking holiday home protection here... those chilled spaces where you visit that are left empty for long periods of time.
Read more here about our Idral water wellness solutions here:
These outstanding taps are on special order; although they may not feature on our website, we’re more than happy to help you with a customised order. Speak to a sales consultant at your nearest Italtile showroom for advice and assistance: (store locator)
Keep contagion out of the kitchen. Let’s face it. We live in the kitchen. It’s the tribal meeting place. But. It’s also the traditional gathering place for bacteria, mould and other awfulness. Here’s where we need to abandon our romantic notions of real, rustic wood and other porous surfaces.
Surfaces like your natural woods and stones, your gorgeous granites and your magnificent marbles... they are organic substances and have pores. That means they embrace nasties like Campylobacter – the food bacteria that causes diarrhoea.
In fact, if ever there was a room in the house that needed a total tile solution, it’s the kitchen (closely followed by the bathroom, but we’ll get to that in a moment). A hot trend – and we’re applauding - is countertops and kitchen islands with XXL tile surfaces. This way you get the fab stone, screed, oxidised metal or marble look you’re crushing on... with a non-porous, UV resistant, acid resistant, heat resistant, stain resistant surface. Our tiles also wipe down easily with warm water, or your household cleaner, but a word of caution here: DON’T use paper towel for this task, because you risk leaving tiny fibres behind. DO use a sponge.
By now you’ll have worked out for yourself that a porous natural floor in a kitchen is a no-no, so no need for us to bang on about a tiled or carpeted kitchen floor!
Speak to us about custom-cutting your chosen XXL tile to suit your kitchen counter or island. We offer an extraordinary customised waterjet cutting service.
Beat the Bathroom Blues. Italtile offers so many solutions to ensure tiptop hygiene in your bathrooms. Read on for ideas that are as stunning as they are safe.
Bring on the Bidet. We’re starting to go paperless in the office... and bathrooms are beginning to go loo paperless, too! Here’s an interesting factoid, folks: in 2020, at the height of Pandemic panic, the requests for bidets worldwide soared by over 50%. One of the most niche bathroom items has moved front and centre. The Bidet’s day has come. As it happens, toilet paper is not as green as we all thought. It means the endless chopping down of trees. Bidets also use very little water, thanks to cutting edge 21st century tech. So, in fact, they have become a sustainable and extremely hygienic option.
Italtile offers Bidets for every pocket and preference. Topping the list is some extra-ordinary AI bathroom tech with the Laufen Navia (a futuristic combo toilet-bidet, just perfect for your little holiday home on Mars!).
All featured here: https://www.italtile.co.za/bathroom/toilets/bidets-category.html
Tubs that are Tireless Germ Fighters. We’re the first to put up our hands for a super soak in a stunning tub. And that’s because we stock baths that are both beautiful to look at and tough on germs. Our local and very lovely DADO range is engineered to be 100% solid through and through, utilising quartz ore to toughen and beautify it. This unique substance guarantees longevity, along with a non-porous surface which infuriates germs... who have nowhere to hide. Bye bye bacteria. Let’s get a hoorah from the hygiene conscious folk out there! Shop our DADO luxury here: https://www.italtile.co.za/bathroom/brands/dado-category.html
Jeeves Heated Towel Rails. The Bringers of “Toasty” and the Killers of Mould.
Possibly the most zhoosh of all bathroom furniture, and definitely the most gasp-worthy in terms of form and function, the famous Jeeves heated towel rail range never fails to delight and inspire our Italstylers. But underneath their gorgeous shapes and signature “toasty” personalities beat the hearts of fierce mould killers! Jeeves’ Marketing Director Mark Bennet outlines it best: https://www.italtile.co.za/bathroom/accessories/towel-rails/heated-rails-category.html
“I have often heard shoppers ask a sales consultant; “Why do I need a heated towel rail?”. Despite continued marketing efforts, it’s clear that some people still don’t understand the benefits of including a heated towel rail in their bathroom. The answer to that question is simply; no more damp, smelly towels! Especially useful in humid and wet climates, fluid-filled heated towel rails offer a constant supply of warm, dry towels. Further, there are undeniable hygienic benefits: Microbiologists have discovered that microbial load is significantly reduced (approximately 1000 times) when using a heated towel rail to dry bath towels, compared to air drying.”
Here’s the tech behind these beloved beauties: Increased surface area and heat density allows for more effective towel drying and warming. Heated towel rail designs with fewer and more widely spaced horizontal bars are effective towel dryers, while premium designs with groups of closely spaced bars will not only dry towels but also gently warm them. An effective way to warm and dry damp bath towels is to fold the towel in half, and in half again, before draping it over the heated towel rail. Towels remain fresh for longer, prompting electricity and water savings, due to reduced washing and tumble drying.
Best news! The Jeeves Sienna is on promo right now! https://www.italtile.co.za/jeeves-sienna-polished-stainless-steel-heated-rail-850-x-520mm-product.html
Good, Clean Shower Power. Mould is a very real problem in every bathroom. Unlikely as it seems, shower glass is one of the worst offenders when it comes to germs. Get the hygienic shower power of our Freestanding Shower Screen with Nanotech. This minimalist marvel not only elevates your modernist bathroom vibes, it is engineered to repel bacteria, dirt and grime. Its 8mm tempered glass screen is also water phobic. Wait. What? Indeed. It is literally water repellent. An added benefit: the black finishes are rust repellent.
While we’re on the topic of top showers, let’s take a close look at a showerhead that resists the growth of limescale. Developed and engineered by Almar to be waterwise with a superb eco flow, its tiny nozzles - called nipples - are anti limescale. And easy to clean. These little nipples also help steer the water in the correct direction, not sideways, to ensure a flow that retards limescale growth. All in all, some incredible tech at work here. View the Almar marvel here: https://www.italtile.co.za/bathroom/brands/almar-category.html
Rimless toilets by Laufen. By now in this blogpost you’re getting into the groove of germ-fighting technology. So you’ll agree with us that logic tells us that a toilet bowl with a rim offers revolting ‘klingons’ a place to hide, no? Laufen, those Swiss sanware perfectionists, have designed an utterly awesome-looking range of loos that will put an end to those clingy culprits. Check out the Laufen Pro Wall Hung Rimless Toilet.
Dominus Accessories. These Proudly South African finishing touches are manufactured for a long and trouble-free life. They are made with materials, coatings and components that have superior non-corrosive properties. This means they will not rust, flake or peel. They are also non-porous, and the result is a set of bathroom accessories that will ensure maximum hygiene. Susan Butler is the Director of Domline, who make our Dominus Accessories. She advises that “Dominus products should be cleaned regularly with a warm damp cloth and if necessary, with water and gentle soap.” She also advises against the use of abrasive or chemical cleaning agents. View the ranges here: (link)
Mindful Mosaics. A healthier home is also a mindful home, with a bias toward products and processes that follow sustainable paths and principles. We’re part of a fine bunch of folk who are pushing the boundaries of our LiveGreen mandate, and we’ll be speaking more about our sustainable innovations shortly. The journey is endless, because green enough isn’t green enough. This is a mindset shared by our sustainable suppliers, one of whom is Global Stone. Not only are their mosaics eye catching and exciting in all their glorious shapes, colours, patterns and diversity, they are also eco-chic; mindfully manufactured from recycled glass: (link)
Bedroom Bliss. Whether you share a bed with someone else or not, you’re never alone in bed. Eep. Dust, dust mites and pet dander keep you company all the time. And they were put on this earth to irritate, even if you are not allergic to them. Of course, these little suckers can end up on the floor too. So. As much as a real wooden floor or wall-to-wall carpeting is a wonderfully warming addition to those cosy bedroom vibes, they are terribly attractive to all the nasties. May we respectfully suggest Moda Vinile – the new age vinyl wood look flooring. Soft underfoot, very easy to maintain, which makes them tough on germs. These lifelike ‘planks’ can withstand moisture and scratches, spills and stains, and they’re termite-proof. Shop the range here: http://bit.ly/ItaltileBlogModaVinile
What about Walls? If walls could talk they’d probs ask you to rethink your paint choice. Not the colour. But the type. Paints contain volatile organic compounds called VOCs which amp up indoor air pollution. These awful chemicals are also found in some upholstery, textiles and other building materials and cause a number of health-related issues. Is your home a vintage beaut? Older paints might contain lead, but lead-based paint manufacture was banned in the late 70s. So if your house was built after that, you’re home and dry. If you’re looking to repaint, choose low VOC paints or whitewashes. Exciting new paints are available that are actually antibacterial by nature, so they’re good for kid’s rooms. But when in doubt, put paint out of the equation and go for porcelain tiles. For extra va-va-voom, push the boat out a bit with heart-racingly lovely 3D décor tiles: https://www.italtile.co.za/walls/effects/patterned-category.html
Melanie Ewing on #TheHealthierHome. We’ll be chatting to our interior design boffin Melanie Ewing of Chapters Interiors about #TheHealthierHome this month, in another episode of the Lockdown Design Download series. Hop on over to YouTube and stay tuned.
Last words on The Healthier Home Journey. There’s so much to mention about creating a Healthier Home – air flow for healthy breathing and management of asthma and sick building syndrome; indoor plants as poison filters and elevators of mood and memory; dropping harmful chemicals and adopting organic cleaners; energy efficient power; removal of synthetic materials; taking off your shoes when walking through the house; meditation with noise cancelling headphones. And, and, and. We could go on for hours but honestly, you’ll find so much helpful, healthful information on the www.
Create as much calm, allow maximum love and light in. Keep windows open. Be fuss-free. Minimise drama and negativity: obsessive behaviours breed fear. Find the products, services and activities that encourage and enable a relaxed environment. Put house rules in place for handwashing and laundry. When everyone knows what to do, and everyone’s moving in the same direction (except the cat, of course; these evil little dictators go their own way), peace is the word.
Encourage and reward mindfulness especially with littlies (once again, cats will not take part in your sustainable games). Hug more. Smile more. Forgive more. And visit us more. Our carefully curated collection of products and services (including fabulous, Italian blend coffee instore) are all designed to keep the calm barometer high
Use our hashtag #TheHealthierHome in your social media moments and be part of the bigger conversation*.
Live beautifully, mindfully and healthily, beloved Italstylers.
Our April 2021 Blogpost was motivated World Health Day on the 7th April. The World Health Organisation is committed to ensuring that everyone, everywhere, has the right to good health. Find out more about how you can add your voice and actions to help foster a healthier world here: