How to Clean Grout and Keep it Looking New

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Get your tile clean and stain-free using common household cleaners then keep it looking new.

Hand in rubber glove using a sponge to clean grout on a penny tile shower floor

Grout does more than fill the space between tiles. As anyone who’s fallen in love with the look of white tile surrounded by dark gray grout knows, it also enhances their beauty.

But over time, grout develops mold and mildew as well as stains. If you use the wrong cleaning methods, you’ll permanently damage it. Then you’ll wind up with failing grout that leaves gaps which allows moisture through.

How to Clean Your Grout

Use the following steps to clean grout lines on wall tiles as well as tile floors. As with any cleaning products, be sure to rinse the surface well after cleaning.

Equipment You Will Need:

  • Toothbrush or scrub brush
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Bowl
  • Spray bottle
  • Cleaning rags
  • Rubber gloves (optional)

Step 1. Use a DIY Grout Cleaner

This method is safe for all kinds of tile, including natural stones like granite and marble.

To make homemade grout cleaner, combine 3/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide, and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish detergent. Get the grout wet then apply the mixture with a toothbrush or the corner of a damp rag. Wait 10 minutes then scrub the grout and rinse it well.

Step 2. Remove Stains

Combine 2 tablespoons of oxygen bleach* and 2 cups of warm water. Sponge this onto the grout and wait 10 minutes then scrub and rinse it away. (*Oxiclean is one brand.) This method is safe for natural grout between natural stone tiles, like granite or marble.

Step 3. Treat Stubborn Stains

The best thing to clean deeply stained grout is a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide followed by a spray of undiluted white vinegar. This creates a foaming reaction that lifts grout stains and kills both mold and mildew. Once the foaming stops, scrub the area with a brush and rinse well. Do not use this method if you have natural stone tiles. You should use steam to clean grout between marble, granite, and other stone tiles.

Optional: Use Steam

Steam is a safe way to clean all types of grout, provided it is not broken or cracked. Using steam on broken grout will damage the subfloor or wall behind it. If you have marble or granite tile, steam is the easiest way to clean stubborn grout stains.

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For wall grout, use a hand-held steamer that has a scrubbing attachment. For floors, including penny tile shower floors, use a steam mop. (I use this one.) Direct the steam at the grout line and slowly move it back and forth for several seconds. Work in small sections, wiping away dirty residue before you move to the next section. When you’re done with the entire job, wipe or rinse the area one more time.

How to Keep Grout Looking New

Grout lines are lower than the surrounding tiles, so they catch a lot of runoff and greasy dirt. To keep your grout looking new and stain-free, it needs regular attention.

Regular Cleaning

To keep grout looking its best, clean it when when you’re cleaning the surrounding surface. For tile floors, that means cleaning food spills on grout as they happen and mopping at least once a week. Use this homemade floor cleaner as a mopping solution. The no-streak formula cuts through dirt and grease and you don’t need to rinse it.

For wall tiles in the bathroom or kitchen, wipe the grout lines with a textured cloth as part of your weekly cleaning. Or use this homemade daily shower spray which prevents mold and mildew and keeps your grout clean. It’s safe on your kitchen backsplash, too.

Annual Sealing

Grout is porous, so if it’s not sealed it will absorb food spills, dirt, and grease that can stain it. It can also develop mold and mildew. That’s why you need to reseal grout every year.

Always clean your grout first then let it dry for at least 24 hours before you apply sealant. Follow the package’s instructions: most take a few hours to dry, but some take longer.

Frequently Asked Questions

According to the internet, there are all sorts of surprising ways to clean grout fast. Some of them might do more harm than good.

Can I clean my grout with WD-40?

Sometimes. WD-40 contains mineral oil, so it can help remove greasy stains since “like dissolves like.” But you should be aware that grout may soak up the WD-40 and change colors.

Can I Use a Can of Coke to Clean Grout?

Yes but you shouldn’t. Coke is acidic so it can clean grout, but so could battery acid. You wouldn’t pour that on your expensive tiled floor, would you? Acidic cleaners can damage grout sealant. 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?

Some toilet bowl cleaners that contain bleach will remove stains from white grout. They’ll damage tinted or colored grout for the reasons previously explained. It is also important to know that using toilet bowl cleaners on your grout will leave a slimy residue that takes a lot of effort to remove. Since it’s bleach-based, you must only use soap and water to remove that residue to avoid a potentially dangerous combination of cleaning products.

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