How To Clean Grout

how to clean grout from HousewifeHowTos.com
As an allergy-sufferer I love tiled floors, but as a busy housewife? Not so much. Oh, sure, it’s easy enough to surface clean tile floors: sweep or vacuum, then mop. But the grout? Oh, how I hate cleaning the grout.

Or, rather, I used to hate cleaning it until I figured out how to clean grout on tile floors, shower walls, even the kitchen back-splash.

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How To Clean Grout

The All-Natural Method

As with most all-natural cleaning methods, this one swaps harsh chemicals for elbow grease. So plan to spend time, but very little money, to get your grout looking great again.

You will need:

Steps:

  1. Spray the shower walls with warm water and wipe with a microfiber cloth to loosen surface grime.
  2. Add the baking soda to the small bowl of warm water to make a thick paste.
  3. Scrub the baking soda paste into the grout lines. This is where the elbow grease helps… or the extension scrubber.
  4. Spray the section with warm water and wipe it clean before moving on to the next one.

The Non-Toxic Method

You will need:

  • Scrub brush, tooth brush or extension scrubber
  • Warm water
  • Oxygenated bleach (like OxyClean)
  • Plenty of cleaning rags or microfiber cloths

Steps:

  1. Mix a strong solution of oxygenated bleach and warm water. Do NOT put it in a spray bottle or it’ll explode!
  2. Spread the oxygenated bleach water on the grout lines.
  3. Let sit 15 minutes.
  4. Scrub with the brush then wipe with microfiber cloths.
  5. Be sure to mop your floor thoroughly once you’re finished.

Once your grout is clean, you’ll want to keep it nice. Be sure to read my tips on how to prevent shower mold and mildew and use this homemade daily shower spray to keep your grout, as well as your shower curtain or doors, clean.

Equipment I Use:

   

Comments

    • says

      True, Tilex is powerful stuff. I’m not a big fan of using harsh chemicals indoors, though, particularly now that my husband’s treatments will be making him so sensitive to strong smells. (And they seem to cause my son’s allergies to flare up, too.)

  1. says

    Dearest Katie,

    Guess we had an excellent craftsman that did our tiles as I’ve never had any dirty grout. Weekly washing them with my Dutch style ‘dweil’ a cotton molton large rectangle cloth that you wet in a bucket and wrap around a floor squeegee. Once you wash it wet and than wring the cloth and wrap around the squeegee for drying. After finishing I launder those ‘dweils’ in the machine on hot so it is hygienic too.
    Sincerely,
    Mariette

    • says

      Absolutely, Mariette, a good craftsman will seal the grout when laying tile, and an obsessive housekeeper will repeat that process annually to ensure the grout never stains. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a good craftsman, nor were the previous homeowners interested in re-sealing grout, apparently. So ours was very yucky when we moved in — I didn’t realize until trying the Oxyclean method that the grout in my bathroom was white, and not beige! At this point, I’m just trying to keep it clean, since we’ll be replacing the flooring throughout the house with hardwood soon. (I hope!)

  2. says

    Great posting! I have tried all these methods, and they definitely work. Another way I clean grout without too much effort is to spray the bathroom grout with vinegar 25 to 20 minutes before I hit the showers. So when I finally do take a shower, i simply rinse off the walls and floors and I’m done. It’s a simple and easy way to maintain the grout’s cleanliness. With this method, it usually takes one to 2 months before I need to get down on my knees and scrub on the grout again :)

    • says

      Mine, too, now. But to be perfectly honest, just 10 years ago we bought a house after my husband was transferred, and the previous homeowner left me a ‘goodie basket’ on the kitchen counter.

      Inside, she’d put a box of baking soda, a vial of lavender essential oil, a jug of white vinegar, a toothbrush and a stack of washcloths tied with a pretty ribbon. Plus, there was a card which read: “This is ALL I’ve used to clean our house for the 19 years we’ve lived here. I hope you love this home as much as we did. Enjoy!”

      It was a very sweet and personal touch, I agree. And she probably would’ve made a convert out of me if every surface of the house wasn’t covered in grease, grime and dust. So I tossed most everything, except the washcloths, and broke out the hardcore chemicals to give the place a good scrub, top to bottom.

      Years later, I not only learned that her kids had stayed at the house for 5 weeks after the couple had moved out — and hadn’t cleaned at all the entire time — which was why the place was so nasty when we moved in. I also learned, after a friend of mine came over and cleaned my own home when I was in the hospital, that vinegar, baking soda and lavender essential oil really DO clean just about everything wonderfully!

    • Katie B. says

      I’ve heard of that happening when people use vinegar full-strength, and it happens with brass if the solution is anything stronger than 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water.

  3. Carolyn says

    Hi! Love the tips for cleaning bathroom grout. My hurdle is cleaning floor tile grout – with three indoor pups it’s difficult to keep our grout looking like new, even though we wipe the pups’ feet each time they come in from outside. The only thing I’ve found that works is good old “elbow grease” … which was fine when I was younger but, now … not so much! LOL!

    • Katie B. says

      Have you tried filling a spray bottle with 1/2 hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 water, then spraying the grout? Let it sit for a few minutes, then mop. It’s non-toxic, and it should get your grout looking clean again. Good luck!

  4. Angela says

    This post contradicts itself! The first part says “Oh, how I hate cleaning the grout. Or, rather, I used to hate cleaning it until I figured out three quick ways to clean grout on tile floors, shower walls, even the kitchen back-splash. Here’s how.” However, later on when it describes the first method of cleaning it says “As with most all-natural cleaning methods, this one swaps harsh chemicals for elbow grease. So plan to spend plenty of time, but very little money, to get your grout looking great again.” Is it quick or does it take plenty of time?? It can’t be both. Since it involves elbow grease, I’m assuming it takes time. Don’t be misleading.

    • Katie B. says

      Geez, a bit harsh, aren’t we? You’ll notice there are TWO methods. The first one, using a toothbrush and baking soda, does indeed take elbow grease and time, particularly in comparison with using harsh chemical cleansers. The second method is much faster, and takes less work… hence the ‘let sit 15 minutes’ and ‘brush lightly with the toothbrush’ instructions. Now, go have a cookie and chillax.

  5. Christina H. says

    Katie B.,

    Before I attempt to clean my grout: Do you know if either of the recipes work on dark grout, too? Or just the light colored grout? The rental property we’re living in has all tile (2100 sq ft!), except for the closets. The problem is, after using your homemade floor cleaner (and several other commercial cleaners), some of the grout is starting to not be dark grout anymore.

    *As a side note, I don’t think the tile was ever sealed properly (if ever). NOTHING keeps the tile looking clean for longer than it takes whatever cleaning solution to dry.

    Christina H.

    • Katie Berry says

      If the grout wasn’t sealed, any cleanser is going to leech out the dye that made it dark… assuming it was truly dark in the first place. I say that because the “dark” grout between the white ceramic tiles in my kitchen floor weren’t sealed when the house was built. Turns out, what I thought was black grout was actually light gray… and I didn’t realize that until I’d been on my hands and knees scrubbing with hot water and Pine-Sol for hours.

      That said, there’s nothing about baking soda (the first solution) that should change the color of grout at all. It’s just an abrasive that would get rid of grease. The Oxyclean (second solution) shouldn’t hurt it either, in theory, since it’s safe to use on colored clothes, even.

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