Everything you need to know to get your grout clean and stain-free using common household cleaners. Plus, how you can keep your grout looking new.
Grout does more than fill the space between tiles — it enhances their beauty. Since grout lines are lower, they collect a lot of greasy dirt that runs off the tiles. Grout develops mold and mildew, too. But, if you neglect it or use the wrong cleaning methods, grout will fall apart. Before long, you’ve got tiles falling off the wall or coming up from the floor, and costly repair bills ahead.
Fortunately, you can get your grout clean and looking new in less than an hour. Protecting it from future damage doesn’t take much longer than that, either.
How to Clean Grout and Remove Stains
- Toothbrush or scrub brush
- Measuring spoon or cup
- Empty spray bottle
- Sponges or Rags
- Rubber gloves (optional)
- Hot water
- Baking soda
- 3% hydrogen peroxide
- Liquid dish detergent
- Chlorine bleach OR oxygenated bleach – see instructions
- Grout sealer
- It is always best to start with the mildest cleaning approach. When it comes to cleaning grout, that means to begin by washing it first. You may find this step removes most of the mess in minutes.
- The easiest way to wash your grout is with a bowl of hot, soapy water and a scrub brush. Dip the brush into the soapy water then rub in circles along the grout line. Spray with clean water to rinse. If your grout still needs work, the next step explains how to make a homemade grout cleaner.
Apply Homemade Grout Cleaner
- In a bowl, combine 2 parts baking soda and 1 part of hydrogen peroxide. Add a small amount of liquid dish detergent. (For example, mix 3/4 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide with 1 teaspoon of liquid dish detergent.)
- Using the corner of a rag, apply this homemade cleaner to the grout.
- Wait 15 minutes and then scrub along the grout line with an old toothbrush.
- Spray with hot water to rinse and wipe with a clean rag. Spot treat any remaining grout stains using the methods in the next step.
Remove Grout Stains
- Safety tip: Be sure you have thoroughly rinsed your tile and grout well before proceeding. It's not safe to combine cleaning products, even those used in homemade grout cleaners. (Related: Cleaning Ingredients You Must Never Mix.)
- Make a homemade grout stain remover:For white grout, use 2 tablespoons chlorine bleach stirred into 2 cups of water. Do not use this on anything but white grout, though, since it can leach the color.For tinted or colored grout, replace chlorine bleach with an oxygenated bleach cleaner. (Oxiclean is one brand. Several store brands also work well. Look for the terms 'oxygen cleaner' or 'oxygenated bleach.')
- Apply the stain remover to your grout with a rag and wait 15 minutes for it to work.
- Dip a sponge or rag into the remaining solution and scour the grout line. Rinse well with clean water.
Keep Your Grout Looking New
- The easiest way to keep grout looking new is with frequent cleaning. Wash tiled surfaces weekly with soapy water. Or try this homemade all-purpose cleaning spray.
- If you discover greasy residue on your grout, a little rubbing alcohol on the corner of a rag should clean it right up.
- Keep your grout sealed to protect it. Always clean your grout first then let it dry at least 24 hours before you apply sealant. Use a sponge or small brush to apply sealer along the grout lines. Wipe excess away with a damp rag immediately, or it will cause a permanent haze on your tile. Reseal grout between wall tiles every year and between floor tiles every six months.
Other Ways to Clean Grout
According to the internet, there are all sorts of surprising ways to clean grout fast. But some of them might do more harm than good.
Can I Use Vinegar to Clean My Grout?
Vinegar damages natural stone surfaces like marble or granite. If you don’t have that kind of tile, you can use vinegar on dirty grout. But first, dilute it with an equal amount of water. Spray it on, wait 10 minutes, then scrub with a toothbrush. Be sure to rinse well afterward. (Related: Homemade Mold-Killing Daily Shower Spray.)
Can I Clean My Grout with WD-40?
Good, ol’ WD-40 is a mineral oil-based spray that everyone should have on hand to deal with squeaky hinges. It can clean greasy grout in a pinch because “like dissolves like,” but there are risks, too. Grout is porous. (That’s why it has to be sealed regularly.) If you haven’t sealed it recently, your grout will soak up greasy things like WD-40. Then you’re left with darker grout that traps more grime and mildew. So, you should probably save the spray for those squeaky hinges instead.
Can I Use a Can of Coke to Clean Grout?
Coke is pretty acidic so it can clean grout, but so could battery acid — and you wouldn’t pour that on your expensive tiled floor, would you? Remember, grout is porous, which means that can of acidic soda can damage it and the protective seal, too. If that seal gets stripped, you’ll wind up with Coke soaked into your grout. You’ll hate that stain, but the ants in your neighborhood will love you.
Can I Use Toilet Bowl Cleaner to Whiten My Grout?
Again, there’s a difference between what you can use and what you should use. Some toilet bowl cleaners that contain bleach will remove stains from white grout. They’ll damage tinted or colored grout for the reasons explained above. Most important to know: it will leave a slimy residue on your tile that will take hours of mopping to remove. Skip it and use the steps above instead.