How To Clean Grout. What professionals say
Grout is essential for floor and wall tiling. Unfortunately, it can sometimes become stained, discolored, and dirty. While cleaning grout is no one’s favorite chore, it’s important to do it regularly to keep your tiles looking their best.
Here are 7 easy methods for cleaning grout:
- Scouring powder, hot water, and a stiff brush.
- White vinegar and water solution.
- Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.
- Oxygen bleach.
- Alkaline cleaner.
- Toilet bowl cleaner.
- Steam cleaner.
Read on to learn more about these methods and to find the one that’s right for you. I will discuss the steps to follow in detail for each method, what materials you’ll need, and any safety precautions to take. Let’s get started!
- 1 1. Scouring Powder, Hot Water, and a Stiff Brush
- 2 2. White Vinegar and Water Solution
- 3 3. Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda
- 4 4. Oxygen Bleach
- 5 5. Alkaline Cleaner
- 6 6. Toilet Bowl Cleaner
- 7 7. Steam Cleaner
- 8 Final Thoughts
1. Scouring Powder, Hot Water, and a Stiff Brush
One of the most common and straightforward ways to clean grout is with a scouring powder, hot water, and a stiff-bristle brush.
This method is ideal for small areas of grout with light staining, especially if your floor is relatively new. How hard you scrub will depend on the level of staining but be careful not to apply too much pressure, as this can damage the tiles.
- Scouring powder
- Hot water
- Stiff-bristled brush (a grout brush or durable cleaning brush is perfect)
- Rubber gloves
- Protective goggles (optional)
- Step 1. Mix sourcing powder and water: Mix the scouring powder with the hot water in a bucket. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the correct scouring powder to water ratio. Stir it until it forms a paste.
- Step 2. Protect yourself: Put on your rubber gloves and goggles (if using) to protect yourself from the harsh chemicals (many scouring powders contain bleach or ammonia).
- Step 3. Apply the paste: Dip your brush into the paste, scooping up as much as you need to cover the bristles. Apply the paste to the grout lines, scrubbing in a back-and-forth motion, and scrub lightly at first to see how much pressure is required. If the stains are stubborn, you may need to scrub harder.
- Step 4. Small sections: Work in small sections until you’ve covered the entire area. Pay special attention to any areas that seem to be stained more than others. Check under furniture and in corners, as these areas are often neglected.
- Step 5. Rinse the area: Once you’ve finished scrubbing, leave the paste on for 10-15 minutes to allow it to work its magic. Then, rinse the area with clean water to remove all traces of the scouring powder. Use a clean cloth or sponge to wipe away any residual paste.
- Step 6. Let it dry: Allow the area to air-dry completely before walking on it or replacing furniture. You don’t want to track the scouring powder or water onto other areas of your home.
- Gentle pressure: Don’t use too much pressure when scrubbing, as this may scratch your tiles. Start with light pressure and increase as needed.
- Ventilation: Ventilate the area well while scrubbing and rinsing to avoid inhaling harmful fumes. Open windows and doors if possible.
- Only ceramic tiles: Only use this method on ceramic tile. Do not use it on natural stone or glass tile, as it can damage the surface.
2. White Vinegar and Water Solution
Whenever you need to clean something in your home, vinegar is likely the first thing that comes to mind. And for a good reason – vinegar is a powerful cleaning agent that can be used on various surfaces and does an amazing job cutting through grease and grime. But did you know that you can also use it to clean grout?
Vinegar contains acetic acid, a weak acid that breaks down stains and dirt. It’s also non-toxic and won’t harm your tile or grout as some harsh chemicals can. When using a vinegar solution to clean grout, do preliminary cleaning with a mild detergent to remove any surface dirt.
- White vinegar
- Spray bottle
- Liquid detergent (optional)
- Rubber gloves
- Soft-bristled brush
- Clean cloth or sponge
- Step 1. Mix vinegar and water: Mix 2-4 parts water with 1 part white vinegar in a bucket. Add 1/2 a teaspoonful of liquid detergent for extra cleaning power. Stir thoroughly for even mixing.
- Step 2. Use a spray bottle: Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. This makes applying the solution on the grout lines easy without over-wetting the tile. Fill the spray bottle to the top so you don’t have to stop and refill in the middle of cleaning.
- Step 3. Protect yourself: Put on rubber gloves to protect your hands from the acidic vinegar.
- Step 4. Apply the mixture: Spray the grout lines generously with the vinegar solution. Work in small sections, preferably 1 to 2 square feet at a time, ensuring that the grout is dampened. Leave the mixture to sit for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Step 5. Scrub the grout: Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the grout lines. Work in small, circular motions to loosen the dirt and stains. Use a back-and-forth motion if the bristles are too long to scrub in a circle. Scrub until the grout is visibly clean.
- Step 6. Remove the mixture: Wipe away the dirty vinegar solution with a clean cloth or sponge. Wring it out frequently to avoid re-depositing the dirt onto the grout. Repeat steps 4 through 6 until all the grout lines are clean.
- Step 7. Rinse the area: Rinse the entire area with clean water to remove all traces of the vinegar solution, and use a clean cloth or sponge to wipe away any residual solution. Dry the area with an absorbent cloth or towel to prevent water spots and to speed up the drying process.
- Always dilute: Never use undiluted vinegar on grout. It can quickly eat away at the grout and could damage the tiles. Always use a diluted vinegar solution.
- Not for all materials: Never use vinegar on natural stone or marble. The acidity can etch the surface and damage it permanently.
- Do not scratch: If you’re using a brush with long bristles, be careful not to scratch your tile while scrubbing. Use a back-and-forth motion instead of scrubbing in circles.
- Gentle pressure: Avoid using excessive pressure when scrubbing, as this can damage the tiles. The strokes should be gentle but firm.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda
Hydrogen peroxide is another cleaning agent you probably already have in your home. It’s a powerful natural oxidizer that can easily break down stains, and is often used as a natural alternative to bleach.
Combined with baking soda, it makes an effective cleaning paste that quickly cuts through grime and dirt. Baking soda is mildly abrasive, so it helps to loosen the dirt and grime from the surface. It’s also non-toxic and gentle, making it safe to use on tile and grout.
- 3% hydrogen peroxide
- Baking soda
- Small bowl
- Damp rag
- Soft-bristled brush
- Step 1. Mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide: Mix 2 parts baking soda and 1 part hydrogen peroxide in a small bowl, and stir it with a teaspoon until it forms a thick paste. How much baking soda and hydrogen peroxide you use will vary depending on how much grout you need to clean.
- Step 2. Protect yourself: Put on gloves to protect your hands from the hydrogen peroxide, and apply the paste liberally to the grout lines. Spread it with your finger or use a soft-bristled brush to ensure an even application.
- Step 3. Apply the paste: Let the paste sit for 5 to 10 minutes to allow it to cut through the dirt and grime. Ensure the grout is completely covered in the paste for optimal results.
- Step 4. Scrub the grout: Scrub the grout lines with a soft-bristled brush. Use small, circular motions to loosen the dirt and stains. Rinse the brush frequently in clean water to avoid re-depositing the dirt onto the grout, and apply pressure as needed to loosen stubborn dirt. You can add more paste for stubborn stains.
- Step 5. Repeat: Cover the entire area by repeating steps 2 to 4 until the grout is visibly clean. Work in small sections to ensure you don’t miss any spots.
- Step 6. Wipe the tiles: Wipe your tiles with a damp cloth to remove any paste residue. Next, clean the tile flooring with plenty of clean water for a sparkling finish.
- Step 7. Let it dry: Allow the area to air dry or use a clean towel to dry it completely. Inspect your work and repeat the process if necessary.
- Protect yourself: Use hydrogen peroxide cautiously as it can cause blisters and skin burns in high concentrations. Always use a 3% solution and wear gloves when handling it.
- Test first: Hydrogen peroxide can damage some surfaces, so it’s important to do a patch test before using it on your grout. Apply the paste to an inconspicuous area and let it sit for 5 minutes. Wipe it away and check for any damage. If the grout looks unharmed, you can proceed with cleaning the rest of the area. If you see any damage, discontinue use and try another method.
4. Oxygen Bleach
Oxygen bleach is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional bleach. It’s derived from natural ingredients and contains no harmful chemicals. Oxygen bleach is a powerful cleaner that can remove tough stains quickly, brighten surfaces, and deodorize them.
It works by releasing oxygen ions that break down dirt and stains on contact. It can quickly remove years of built-up dirt and grime when used on grout. Before using oxygen bleach for grout cleaning, remove any surface dirt by sweeping or vacuuming the area.
- Oxygen bleach powder
- Warm water
- Small mixing container
- Spray bottle
- Damp rag or sponge
- Soft-bristled brush
- Step 1. Mix oxygen bleach and water: Mix equal parts oxygen bleach powder and warm water in a small container. This means that if you use 2 parts of oxygen bleach powder, you should use 2 parts of water. Mix thoroughly until the powder dissolves fully.
- Step 2. Use a spray bottle: Pour the mixture into a clean spray bottle and fill it to the brim. Give it a good shake to mix everything.
- Step 3. Apply the mixture: Choose a starting area and spray the grout lines generously. Ideally, this should be no more than 1 to 2 square feet at a time.
- Step 4. Let it sit for 20 min: Let the solution sit on the grout for 15 to 20 minutes to work its magic. The longer you let it sit, the better the results.
- Step 5. Scrub the area: Begin scrubbing with a soft-bristled brush. Move the brush in small, circular motions to work the solution into the grout. Add more solution as needed to keep the area moist and speed up the cleaning process.
- Step 6. Remove the bleach water: Mop up the dirty bleach water with a damp rag or sponge. Wipe the area clean and move on to the next section.
- Step 7. Repeat: Repeat steps 3 to 6 until the entire floor is clean. Once you’re done, give the floor a final wipe-down with clean water to remove any leftover bleach residue. Your grout should now be clean and stain-free!
- Step 8. Let it dry: Allow the area to air dry or use a clean towel to dry it completely. Inspect your work and repeat the process if necessary.
- Protect yourself: While oxygen bleach is relatively safe to use, too much exposure can cause skin and respiratory irritation. Always use it in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves when handling it.
- Can be harmful: Avoid using oxygen bleach if you are pregnant, as its ingredients may harm the developing fetus.
5. Alkaline Cleaner
Alkaline cleaners are powerful cleaning agents that can remove the toughest dirt, grime, and stains. They work by breaking down dirt and grime on contact, making them ideal for cleaning heavily soiled areas.
When used on grout, alkaline cleaners can quickly restore their original color and condition. However, you should avoid regular use of alkaline cleaners on tile grout as they can erode it over time.
- Alkaline cleaner
- Warm water
- Small mixing container
- Damp rag or sponge
- Soft-bristled brush
- Step 1. Mix alkaline cleaner and water: Mix equal parts alkaline cleaner and warm water in a small container. The ratio of alkaline cleaner to water should be 1:1. However, the amount you should make will depend on the size of the area you need to clean.
- Step 2. Use a spray bottle: Stir the mixture until the alkaline cleaner is fully dissolved, and pour it into a bottle sprayer for easy application. A spray bottle also offers more control over how much cleaner is used.
- Step 3. Small areas: Start with a small area and generously spray the grout lines. Don’t forget under the counters, corners, and other hard-to-reach areas. Leave the solution on the grout for 10 to 15 minutes to work out the stains.
- Step 4. Scrub the area: Begin scrubbing with a soft-bristled brush. Start gently and increase the pressure if needed. Be sure to cover the entire area and get into all the nooks and crannies. Spray more cleaner on the grout as needed to keep the area moist.
- Step 5. Remove the dirty water: When you’re satisfied with the results, mop up the dirty water with a damp rag. Wipe the area clean and move on to the next section. Repeat steps 3 to 5 until the entire floor is covered.
- Step 6. Final wipe: Give the room a final wipe-down with lots of clean water. You can use a mop or towel rag to remove any leftover cleaner residue. Allow the area to air dry or use a clean towel to dry it completely.
- Protect yourself: While alkaline cleaners are effective, they can also be corrosive. Avoid contact with skin and eyes and always use in a well-ventilated area. It’s also a good idea to wear gloves when handling this cleaner.
- Do not use it often: Avoid frequent use of alkaline cleaners on tile grout as it can strip away the sealant over time. You may need to reseal the grout after excessive cleaning.
- Only mix with water: Don’t mix alkaline cleaners with other cleaning products as this can create toxic fumes. You should only mix it with water.
- Storage: Store alkaline cleaners in a cool, dry place out of reach of children and pets. If you decant it, label the container clearly, so there’s no mistake about what’s inside.
6. Toilet Bowl Cleaner
While toilet bowl cleaners aren’t primarily meant for tile grout, they can effectively remove stubborn stains. The strong chemicals in toilet bowl cleaners have superior stain and grime cutting power, making them ideal for cleaning tile grout.
However, they can be corrosive when misused, so it’s important to use them with caution and to wear protective gear. When purchasing a toilet bowl cleaner, gel-based formulas with a nozzle tip are the best option for tile grout as they allow for targeted cleaning. This prevents messy spills that breed more cleaning problems.
- Gel-based toilet bowl cleaner with nozzle tip
- Rubber gloves
- An old toothbrush or stiff-bristled brush
- Damp cloth
- Step 1. Protect yourself: Wear protective gear before handling the toilet bowl cleaner. Rubber gloves protect your hands from corrosive chemicals, and goggles safeguard your eyes in case of spills or spraying.
- Step 2. Remove grime and dirt: Remove as much grime and dirt from the grout line as possible with an old toothbrush or stiff-bristled brush. This will make it easier for the cleaner to do its job and prevent further staining.
- Step 3. Apply the cleaner: Gently squeeze the gel-based toilet bowl cleaner onto the grout line. The nozzle tip allows for a more precise application, so there’s less risk of damaging the surrounding area. Start with a small amount and add more as needed.
- Step 4. Wait 10 min: Let the cleaner sit on the grout line for 5 to 10 minutes as this gives it time to break down the stains and dirt.
- Step 5. Scrub the grout: Gently scrub the grout line with an old toothbrush or stiff-bristled brush. Move the brush in circular motions to work the cleaner into the grout.
- Step 6. Wipe the area: Wipe the area clean with a damp towel or cloth. Remove any leftover cleaner residue and rinse the area with clean water. Repeat steps 3 to 6 until you cover all the spots.
- Step 7. Clean the area: Clean the entire area with a mop and clean water, and allow the tiles and grout to air dry before walking on the floor.
- Protect yourself: Toilet bowl cleaners are very corrosive, so it’s important to use them cautiously. Wear protective gear at all times and avoid contact with skin and eyes.
- Start small: Apply only a small amount of cleaner to the grout line, and add more as needed.
- Ventilation: Work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling the fumes. Keep children and pets away from the area while you’re cleaning.
7. Steam Cleaner
One of the safest, and most effective ways to clean tile grout is with a steam cleaner. The high temperatures produced by the steam help loosen dirt and stains from the grout while disinfecting the area.
The best part is that no harsh chemicals are involved, so it’s safe to use around children and pets. You can find a wide range of steam cleaners on the market, from handheld units to full-sized models. When choosing a steam cleaner for tile grout, look for one with adjustable steam settings and attachments for hard-to-reach areas.
- Steam cleaner with adjustable steam settings and attachments
- Step 1. Add water: Fill the steam cleaner with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you’re using a handheld steamer, fill the reservoir with water. For a full-sized steamer, connect it to a water source.
- Step 2. Let the water heat up: Plug in the steamer and wait for it to heat up. Depending on the brand, this usually takes around 30 seconds to 1 minute. Attach the steam cleaning head or nozzle to the steamer and adjust the steam settings to medium or high, depending on the severity of the stains.
- Step 3. Go slow: Hold the steamer close to the grout line and run it back and forth until the entire area is covered. Go slow to ensure you get a good burst of steam on the grout. The high temperatures from the steam will help loosen the dirt and stains.
- Step 4. Brush attachment: Use the brush attachment to scrub the grout line if needed. For tough stains, let the steam cleaner sit on the area for a bit longer before scrubbing.
- Step 5. Rinse the area: Detach the steam cleaning head and empty the water reservoir. Rinse the grout line with clean water to remove any residue and allow it to air dry.
- Very hot: Be careful when handling the steamer as it gets hot during use. Use caution when moving it around and avoid contact with skin and eyes.
- Test first: Test the steam cleaner on a small, inconspicuous grout area before using it on the entire surface. This will help you get a feel for how much pressure to use and how long to let it sit on the grout line.
And that’s it! These are just a few ways to clean tile grout. With a little elbow grease and the right cleaner, you can get rid of embedded dirt and stains quickly and easily, restoring your grout to its original condition. So don’t be afraid to tackle those tough cleaning jobs. Your tile will thank you for it!