The Ultimate Guide To Cleaning Grout

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Tile can be a beautiful and durable addition to any home, but what can you do to keep those pesky grout lines clean? It seems like just yesterday they were light in colour. Now, they look dirty and you can’t seem to figure out how to restore them to their former glory. Cleaning grout can be labour-intensive and time-consuming, but with the right tools and the proper technique, you can scrub them clean in no time at all.

If you need some guidance on how to get that grout sparkling again, here is everything you need to know:

Start at the Beginning

When it comes to cleaning, you want to try the mildest solution first before jumping to more extreme options. For most people, this means tackling the grime that builds up on grout with nothing more than warm water and a stiff-bristled brush. However, this is not likely to give you the results that you are looking for. Most people find greater success by adding distilled white vinegar into the mix.

In a spray bottle, mix equal parts distilled white vinegar and warm water. Spray it liberally along the grout lines and allow it to soak for five to ten minutes. Using your stiff-bristled brush, apply some elbow grease to work the solution in, lifting out the dirt and grime. Rinse it with plain tap water and marvel at how many mild stains have disappeared.

Moderate Staining

Sometimes, you will still have stains left over after trying the water and vinegar method. If this is the case for your kitchen or bathroom, then you need to introduce a secret ingredient that you probably already have on hand - baking soda. In a large bowl, mix together baking soda and warm water until they form a paste the consistency of toothpaste. Smear this paste over the grout lines, really paying attention to areas where staining is present.

Once you spread it liberally along the grout lines, spritz the mixture with more distilled white vinegar. Don’t be alarmed when it begins to foam and bubble as this is a good sign that the cleaner is working its magic. Allow the foaming to stop organically and then scrub the whole mixture into the grout. Once done, rinse it all with warm water.

For stubborn stains that are resistant to this kind of cleaning, you might make a paste out of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide instead of water. Mix the two products together until they form a thick paste and then scrub it into the grout lines. Always test this solution in an inconspicuous part of the room before tackling all of your grout lines.

a man cleaning kitchen grout of an old, dirty tile floor

Bleach Alternatives

Have you let the dirt on your grout accumulate for too long? Natural solutions like those listed above may not be enough to remove stains. Different types of bleaches might be what you need to eliminate those really tough-to-tackle stains. No matter which of these two bleaches you try, make sure that your area is very well-ventilated and that your skin and eyes are protected. Bleach is quite harsh and it is important to beware of chemically strong products. Extra care needs to be taken, especially if you’re trying to clean grout next to hardwood or marble tiled floors (this can lead to expensive and hard to fix damages).

The first type of bleach you should try is oxygen bleach and although it should be safe to simply apply it directly to the grout lines, allowing it to soak for up to fifteen minutes,  it is recommended to read through the manufacturer’s instructions first. After the treatment, rinse thoroughly with clean water to prevent the dirt from settling back in again.

Chlorine bleach is a last resort, only to be used when all other options have failed. This should not be your go-to product for weekly cleaning. You want to use it sparingly and only on areas that have been stained. Make sure that the area where you will be applying it is completely free of all cleaners from previous attempts to remove stains. Spray the affected area with the bleach and allow it to soak for ten to fifteen minutes. Thoroughly rinse with water. This should effectively eliminate all of your stains.

Quick Tip: Use a grout pen to assist in repainting tired, or dirty looking grout.

Keeping a Clean Home

If you still struggle with getting your grout clean, you might want to consult our commercial cleaners for more specific advice. Keeping your home clean is great for your health and that means keeping a close eye on how dirty your grout and tile floors can get.

If you're not confident utilizing our ultimate guide, please see our beginner's grout cleaning resource. 

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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