Ultimate Grout Cleaning Guide
Tile is beautiful, durable, and generally easy to clean, but cleaning grout? That’s a different story. Because of its typically light coloring and porous composition, grout is prone to staining. In a tiled entry or mudroom, dirt and grime are the usual culprits, while in the kitchen, spills are more likely to blame. In the bathroom, homeowners must contend with mold and mildew.
Imagine your new house has a white tile entry and white tile in the kitchen. Between the kids, the dog, and husband (who likes to walk inside in his lawn mowing shoes) it’s nearly impossible to keep the tile and grout clean.
Seriously, there always seems to be one mystery spot or blob of goo somewhere on the white tile floor. The worst part? The brownish discolored tile grout. The floor tile grout hadn’t been cleaned in so long that it was hard to tell what the original color was. Was it white? Was it tan? Your guess is as good as mine.
Charnell, the owner of Clean Corp says, “Before you begin, remember that with any cleaning project, it’s always best to start off with the mildest cleaning solution, if that doesn’t help try other cleaning products to determine what works best. When in doubt about a grout cleaner, test it in a hidden spot—under an appliance in the kitchen, say, or behind the toilet in the bathroom.”
How to clean grout: Six Ways to Sunday
1. Scrub dirty grout using plain warm water and a stiff-bristled brush.
If you don’t already have a brush for the job, most home center and hardware stores carry an assortment of options specifically designed for the purpose of cleaning grout. Simply spray warm water on the grout lines and scrub in a circular motion, wipe the area with a clean cloth and let dry.
2. Spray with equal parts vinegar and warm water for several minutes.
For heavier dirt and mild stains turn to vinegar, a trusty old standby for many household chores. Fill a spray bottle with a half-and-half solution of vinegar and warm water. Spray on the grout, let it stand for five minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush. If you hate the smell of vinegar, you can create a vinegar based cleaning solution by adding essential oils or even fruit peels to offset the strong vinegar smell.
3. Apply a baking soda paste and spray with vinegar.
To bring even more cleaning power to the party, cover grout lines with a paste of baking soda and water, then spray on the vinegar solution listed above. Once the mixture stops foaming, scrub with a brush and rinse with plain water.
4. Pour on some hydrogen peroxide.
Moderate stains may require you to use hydrogen peroxide, which is available in most drug stores. You can use the product straight, or apply a paste made from baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
5. Apply oxygen bleach for up to 15 minutes.
For tougher stains and really grimy grout, use oxygen bleach as a grout cleaner. You’ll find this cleanser is most often sold in powdered form; best-selling brands include OxiClean, Clorox OxiMagic, and Biokleen Oxygen Bleach Plus. Whatever product you choose to clean grout, make sure the area is well-ventilated then carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for application. Generally, you will want to let the oxygen bleach solution work for 10 or 15 minutes before rinsing. Always rinse with clean water so that the dirt doesn’t resettle into the grout lines.
6. Use chlorine bleach sparingly on grout.
Chlorine bleach (and commercial cleansers containing chlorine bleach) can be used sparingly in extreme cases to clean grout. One of our must go-to products, when all else fails, is Clorox Clean-Up spray. Before you apply, rinse away all of the above attempts—especially the vinegar, because traces of vinegar mixed with bleach will emit a highly toxic chlorine gas into the surrounding air. Also don’t make this a routine: Long-term use of caustic cleaners will erode grout, so these products should be used on a limited basis.
What to clean grout: Six Masterclass Recipes
1. Lemon-Vinegar Mixture
Ingredients: 3 cups water, 1⁄2 cup baking soda, 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup white vinegar
Directions: Mix ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray floor, let sit for a few minutes, scrub.
2. Epsom-Dish soap
Ingredients: 1 cup Epsom salts, 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup liquid hand washing dish soap
Directions: Mix together the Epsom salts, baking soda, and dish soap. Scoop mixture onto grout and rub clean. Rinse.
3. Baking Soda + Hydrogen Peroxide
Ingredients: 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide, 1 tsp dish soap.
Directions: Mix together the baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soap. Spoon mixture onto grout, wait 5-10 minutes, scrub and rinse.
4. Pure Baking Soda + Hydrogen Peroxide
Ingredients: 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup hydrogen peroxide.
Directions: Sprinkle baking soda onto grout until it is covered, spray with hydrogen peroxide until it is wet, wait 10 minutes, scrub, and wipe clean.
5. Lemon, Salt, Baking Powder + Oils
Ingredients: 3/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3 tbsp salt, 3 tbsp hand dish washing liquid, 1/2 cup vinegar, 10 drops essential oil (e.g chamomile)
Directions: Mix together a large bowl or bucket (mixture foams a lot), pour into a spray bottle. Spray floor, let sit for a few minutes, scrub.
6. Washing Soda + Vinegar
Ingredients: 1 gallon water, 1/4 cup washing soda, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tbsp dish soap.
Directions: Combine washing soda, vinegar, and dish soap in a one gallon container. Slowly pour water into the container. Pour mix into spray bottle, spray floor, let sit for a few minutes, scrub.
Why certain cleaning agents work really well?
- Baking soda is mildly abrasive so it helps to remove the dirt that is stuck in the porous grout surfaces without causing any damage.
- Hydrogen peroxide is a natural alternative to bleach that brightens and eliminates germs. Plus it is non-toxic and decomposes into water and oxygen.
- Dishwashing detergent (used in Grout Cleaner #3) cuts through the greasy grime that gets tracked onto tile floors.
To keep your grout clean and stain-free, it’s a good idea to spray it with vinegar and wipe it down once a week or have someone else do it for you at a fraction of the cost and effort.
Our Atlanta cleaning service professionals can help keep mold and mildew at bay. In any case, just a few spritzes and wipes a week can save you a lot of time and effort cleaning, preserving the attractive appearance of your home in the process.