Grout is a rather tricky element to clean. Because of its high porosity relative to the tiles that it’s filling, it’s a dirt magnet. And since grout is often slightly below the tile level, wiping and sweeping are insufficient to get to the dirt lodged within the grout lines.
The best way to clean tile grout is to use the cleaning solution of your choice and scrub it against the grout. Once it’s clean, apply a sealer to cover the grout. Applicable options for your cleaning solution include commercial grout cleaner, baking soda, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide.
In this article, I’ll guide you through the best ways to clean tile grout at different dirtiness levels. I’ll also offer advice on the numerous household items you can use to clean tile grout, as well as some store-bought grout cleaners.
How To Clean Tile Grout Like the Professionals
The ideal professional method of cleaning tile grout depends on the type of grout you have and the level of cleaning needed.
But first, let’s round up the cleaning supplies we’ll need.
- A grout brush or old toothbrush, preferably if the latter is electric.
- Mixing bowl
- Two absorbent cloths
- Either vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, or commercial grout cleaner. Sometimes, we’ll need to combine these cleaning agents. (More on that later.)
- Grout sealer
Gathering all your tools before you begin the cleaning isn’t just a great move organizationally.
It also ensures that you can work quickly and methodically.
Some of these cleaning agents are corrosive, so you’ll need to rinse them off pretty quickly after application.
If all your tools are in one place, doing so is exponentially easier.
Step 1: Do an Initial Sweep
This foundational step is critical, yet, it’s often neglected.
To set the stage for a successful grout-cleaning process, eliminate any visible dirt, dust, or grime.
Doing so will enable the agents we apply later to interact with the targeted grout directly without being impeded by surface stains.
Sweeping, vacuuming and dusting are excellent ways of setting your grout up for the more intensive cleaning you will subject it to later.
A steam cleaner can also be an effective preliminary cleaner, as the high temperature and pressure of the steam can help to loosen and remove loose dirt and stains.
You’ll notice that all the cleaning methods mentioned above are dry.
Wet wiping will come into the equation in subsequent steps, but our priority now is to clear a direct path to the grout lines.
Step 2: Develop an Appropriate Cleaning Concoction
Several factors influence the best tile grout cleaning mixture.
Let’s explore them one by one:
- The type of grout and the surrounding tiles: Uniquely coarse or fragile grout calls for a mixture of two parts of baking soda mixed with one part of hydrogen peroxide.
- The color of the grout and the surrounding tiles: If you have colored grout and tiles, you’ll want to use a cleaner that won’t bleach or discolor it. Mild cleaning solutions include baking soda and water, vinegar and water, dilute hydrogen peroxide, and oxygen bleach. You should use the last three sparingly and test them on a small, inconspicuous grout area to ensure it doesn’t cause any damage.
- How dirty the grout is: Innocuous dirt and grime are easily removable with a mixture of two parts of baking soda and a part of water. More severely stained grout will need you to substitute the water for vinegar.
- Age of the grout: New tiles don’t need cleaning but are more porous than their aged counterparts. Consequently, they are dirt and grime magnets, making grout sealer even more essential for them. You should apply grout sealer to fresh grout 24 to 72 hours after it cures.
If you’re not too thrilled about the idea of turning your home into some chemistry lab, you can opt for a commercial grout cleaner, whose label offers clear instructions for all your grout cleaning needs.
Another advantage of using a store-bought grout cleaner is that they are specifically designed to clean grout, amplifying your chances of success.
Step 3: Scrub Away
Before you expose your skin to these harsh chemicals, remember to wear gloves and protective eyewear.
Using a grout brush or an unused toothbrush, gently scrub the cleaning solution or baking powder paste onto the grout lines.
A standard toothbrush is sufficient for this activity, but if you’d like to make cleaning grout slightly less manual, consider using an electric toothbrush instead.
With this, you also achieve twice the scrubbing output while staying gentle with the grout and surrounding tiles.
Step 4: Rinse, Repeat, and Seal
After a focused 5 to 10-minute scrub, allow the cleaning solution to stay on the grout lines for another 5 to 10 minutes.
This “marination” will enable the chemicals to interact further with the grout and cut through any remaining stains.
Commercial grout cleaners are explicit about how long their product can safely stay on different grout and tile types.
However, suppose you concocted a homemade cleaning solution using vinegar, oxygen bleach, or hydrogen peroxide.
In that case, the little test you carried out earlier on a small, inconspicuous area will inform the safe timespan.
When this period elapses, rinse the grout with water and dry the tiles and grout with a clean, dry towel or a microfiber cloth to prevent streaks and watermarks.
After it’s dried for 24 hours, seal the grout with grout sealer.
If, unfortunately, the first wash hasn’t eliminated the stains you were targeting, repeat the process until your grout reaches a satisfactory level of cleanliness.
Repetition, rather than increased force or agent concentration, will eventually get you your desired results.
You certainly don’t want to scratch or discolor the grout and tiles as you try to clean them.
Cleaning grout is often ignored in home cleaning because many assume that washing their floors counts towards having clean grout.
However, that assumption is far from the truth, as grout requires personalized cleaning and attention to get to the deeply-embedded dirt while being careful not to damage it.
By following the steps outlined in this article, you can clean your grout like a pro.