How To Clean Unsealed Grout. What professionals say

Tiles are a stunning addition to any home. They add a crisp and elegant look to any area, regardless of the room. Unfortunately, unsealed grout is very porous and absorbs dirt, oil, grease, and more, causing it to become stained and giving your home an unkempt look.

You can clean unsealed grout by using lemon juice, a white vinegar and water solution, or steam cleaning it. Oxygen bleach works well, and a hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap mixture is also effective. 

In this article, I will give you five great options to choose from to give your unsealed grout a good clean. Keep reading if you want bright, pristine-looking grout in your home using inexpensive products. 

Method 1. Use Lemon Juice

When life gives you lemons, use them to clean your grout! Lemons are fairly high in acidity while still being gentle. This method is most effective for mild stains between your tiles. 

To clean with lemon juice, you will need some fresh lemons or a bottle of lemon juice if you don’t feel like spending your day squeezing away. You will also need a small brush (a toothbrush works well) and a towel.

Here is how to clean unsealed grout with lemon juice: 

  • Step 1. Pout lemon juice on the area: Pour some lemon juice over the area you want to clean. If the surface you are working on is vertical, you can apply the lemon with a spray bottle to make things easier (and less messy). 
  • Step 2. Wait 10 min: Once the area is saturated, leave the lemon juice to sit for a good 10 minutes. This will allow the natural acids to seep into the grout and lighten the stains. 
  • Step 3. Brush the stains: After 10 minutes, take the toothbrush and brush the stains. You should notice a significant brightness to your once grubby grout. 
  • Step 4. Wipe the area: When you are done brushing, wipe away the lemon juice, and you’re all done! Not only will your grout be clean, but you will also have a lovely lemony fragrance in your home. 

Method 2. Make a White Vinegar and Water Solution

Distilled white vinegar is a natural yet effective cleaning agent that is safe to use throughout your home. Using white vinegar to clean grout is especially effective for removing mildew that has built up between your tiles. Mildew typically occurs if a room is damp or often wet, i.e., a bathroom. 

Follow these steps to clean your unsealed grout with white vinegar and water: 

  • Step 1. Mix vinegar and water: In a large bowl or spray bottle, pour equal parts of white vinegar and water. 
  • Step 2. Apply the mixture: Apply the vinegar to the soiled grout and leave it on for ten minutes. 
  • Step 3. Use a toothbrush: Use a toothbrush to scrub between the tiles and wipe the residue away with a towel. 
  • Step 4. If needed increase the strength: To add some extra oomph to your white vinegar solution, combine it with some bicarbonate of soda to create a paste. Apply the paste liberally and let sit for fifteen to twenty minutes and then scrub with the toothbrush. 
  • Step 5. Clean the area: Clean up with a soapy sponge or towel and allow it to dry. 

Method 3. Steam Clean It

If the stains are quite stubborn and the toothbrush method has not worked, try steam cleaning your grout. 

Steam is one of the most effective methods to clean almost any material, whether it be tiles, sofas, or even beds. Steaming is very effective because the vapor loosens the dirt while also killing bacteria. 

Here is how to steam clean unsealed grout: 

  • Step 1. Clean the area: Before starting, clean the area to remove any dust build-up or excess dirt. 
  • Step 2. Heat the water: Allow 10 minutes for the water in your steam cleaner to get hot and for the steam to be released. 
  • Step 3. Use medium force: With the nozzle brush attached, start scrubbing the tiles with a gentle to medium force; scrubbing too hard may damage the bristles on the brush or even chip the tile. 
  • Step 4. Wipe the area: Once you have finished steaming, use a microfiber towel to wipe the area clean. 

Method 4. Use Oxygen Bleach

Oxygen bleach is a great alternative to chlorine bleach. Not only is it an effective stain remover, but it is also eco-friendly. It is primarily made up of sodium percarbonate, which is best known for removing stains and brightening white colors. 

Oxygen bleach typically comes in powdered form and needs to be dissolved in water. Add two tablespoons of bleach to two cups of warm water for the preferred consistency. As it reacts with the water, you will notice some bubbling. The bubbles help lift off the dirt and grime, making it easier to wipe away, and it can also help remove bad odors. 

Below are the steps to follow for this method: 

  • Step 1. Spray Oxygen: Pour the oxygen bleach solution into a spray bottle and spray the unsealed grout. 
  • Step 2. Let it soak: Leave it to soak for a few minutes.
  • Step 3. Scrub the grout: Scrub the grout with either a nylon brush or sponge to remove stubborn dirt and stains.
  • Step 4. Repeat: Leave to sit for a further few minutes and repeat the process. 
  • Step 5. Stubborn stains: If you notice that some stubborn stains aren’t budging, add more bleach to the solution and target those areas by scrubbing them with a toothbrush. 
  • Step 6. Wipe the area: Wipe the area with a wet towel or mop to remove the bleach.

Method 5. Use Hydrogen Peroxide, Baking Soda and Dish Soap

A combination of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap is arguably one of the most effective combinations to eliminate grout of stains, dirt, and grime. The paste is easy to apply and won’t drip everywhere, making cleaning a lot easier. 

Here is how to clean your grout using this method: 

  • Step 1. Combine ingredients: Combine all three ingredients until you get a paste that resembles a peanut butter consistency. Two parts baking soda to one part hydrogen peroxide plus a teaspoon of dish soap should do the trick. 
  • Step 2. Wait for it to sizzle: You will notice the solution begin to sizzle. The baking soda granules combined with the foaming hydrogen peroxide allow for a deeper clean. 
  • Step 3. Clean the grout: Use a brush to clean the grout well. 
  • Step 4. Remove excess solution: Wipe away the excess solution with a damp sponge and wipe dry with a microfiber towel. 
  • Step 5. Clean pesky spots: If some pesky spots still don’t come clean, you can carefully add pure hydrogen peroxide to the area, leave for 15 minutes, and scrub with a toothbrush.

Final Thoughts

Unsealed grout is porous and has a tendency to pick up grime. Most grout consists of sand which attracts debris, soap scum, and water. 

Not all grout has to be sealed, but sealing does help to reduce the appearance of mold, mildew, and dirt. A good idea would be to invest in a sealant and seal your tiles after you are done cleaning the grout. You should do this about once a year to curb stains and keep your tiles looking spotless. 

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