How to Clean Grout: 8 Ways to Get Your Tiles Sparkling Using Items You Already Have at Home
Tile is the easy-to-clean surface that reigns supreme in kitchens and bathrooms, but we’re not so wild about the stuff that glues the tiles together—you know, the grout. These grooves in between tiles are magnets for mold and dirt, not to mention notoriously annoying to clean. Still, if filthy grout is detracting from the beauty of your tiled floors, walls or counters, something must be done. For that reason, we took a deep dive into how to clean grout—and we’re happy to report that there are several effective and relatively easy ways to get the job done.
There are a number of ways to clean grout, but according to the experts at the American Cleaning Institute (ACI), any cleaning solution designed for the stuff—whether it has been whipped up at home or purchased at the store—should have a low pH. Per the ACI, when it comes to finding a cleaner that can help de-grime your grout, “you’ll want something alkaline, since most grout is primarily cement and can be dissolved by acids.” In other words, you might end up with a re-grouting project on your hands if you decide to deep clean your bathroom with an acidic cleaning product.
1. How to clean grout with a bleach solution
As previously mentioned, acidic cleaners and grout don’t mix. Fortunately, that’s not such a big deal since one of the most common household cleaners is an alkaline solution. Yes, we’re talking about bleach—a heavy-hitter that you probably already have on hand and can safely use on any tiled surface.
To clean your grout with good old chlorine bleach, the ACI recommends that you dilute ¾ cup of the stuff with 1 gallon of water. Spray the cleaning solution on the grout and let it sit for a few minutes. Next, grab a stiff-bristled brush and start scrubbing until the grout starts sparkling—just be sure to rinse the area well when you’re done.
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2. How to clean grout with toilet bowl cleaner
First, let us start by saying that most toilet bowl cleaners feature bleach as a primary ingredient—so if you have any regular chlorine bleach hanging around, there’s no need to run to the store to purchase a specific product. That said, many bleach-based bathroom cleaners are formulated for maximum convenience—meaning a) you don’t have to measure anything out yourself and b) you might not even have to break a sweat from all the scrubbing. Case in point: The significant improvement made to filthy grout with nothing more than a single application of a gel-based toilet bowl cleaner, as seen in the video above.
Not sure which product to choose? When it comes to finding a toilet bowl cleaner that can tackle dirty grout, gel-based products that boast a nozzle tip are best, as they allow for targeted application on both floors and walls, and minimal mess. (There’s nothing worse than cleaning that breeds more cleaning, right?) Good news: There are numerous toilet bowl cleaners that check both these boxes—and once you’ve picked a product you prefer, all you have to do is squeeze some along the grout lines, let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes, and wipe it away with a rag and some hot water. When all’s said and done, your grout will glisten.
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3. How to clean grout with a cocktail of white vinegar, baking soda and dish soap
There’s no need to hold off on cleaning your grout just because you don’t have bleach or toilet bowl cleaner handy—just head to your kitchen where you will likely find all the ingredients you need to whip up a powerful homemade cleaner. General contractor Tom Silva (of This Old House fame) knows a thing or two about cleaning grout and his technique—which relies on a combination of white vinegar baking soda and dish detergent—works like a charm on horizontal surfaces like floors and countertops. Here’s what you do:
1. For this cleaning approach, you’re going to start by pouring distilled white vinegar directly onto tile grout (yes, the smell will be strong).
2. Once you have poured vinegar over all the grout you intend to clean, grab a plastic cup and add a few tablespoons of baking soda, some cold water and a drizzle of dish detergent; stir to combine. The amount of baking soda and water you use will depend on how big a surface area you need to clean. That said, when determining the ratio of baking soda to water, be sure to add just enough of the latter to produce a pourable liquid mixture (i.e., not a paste) with some grit to it. As for the dish soap, a little goes a long way.
3. Now that your cleaning solution is ready to go, proceed by pouring it directly over the same areas of grout where you poured the vinegar. You can move on to the next step immediately but for extra grimy grout, you might want to let the solution sit for 15 minutes or so.
4. Scrub the grout with a bristled brush—a toothbrush will work in a pinch, but you will get far better results from a larger, stiffer brush designed for heavy-duty cleaning jobs. Once the scrubbing is done, use a large sponge to wipe up the remaining cleaning solution and reveal your sparkling clean grout.
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4. How to clean grout with a Magic Eraser (or several)
In case you missed it, the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is a miracle product that can be used to clean just about anything (well, almost), and it can restore your grout to its former glory, too. The process here is straightforward: Dampen the magic eraser with water and start scrubbing the grout. That’s right, no cleaning solution of any kind is needed for this method—you may, however, need more than one magic eraser to get the job done, since they tend to deteriorate after heavy use, and you’ll want to avoid adding too much water as this will hasten the eraser’s decline. Once the scrubbing is done, mop up the gray water and grime (gross, but satisfying) with a clean sponge and call it a day. Bottom line: If you’re looking for a grout-cleaning solution that doesn’t involve a lot of harsh chemicals, this foolproof method is a winner.
5. How to Clean grout using hydrogen peroxide
Like baking soda and white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide is another substance most people have in their cleaning arsenal. To get rid of grout using hydrogen peroxide, our friends at Natural Health Remedies suggest you start by mixing one cup of water and one cup of hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on the area you plan on cleaning and let it sit for five minutes. Next, make a paste using three parts baking soda and one part hydrogen peroxide, then take a brush and scrub the area using the paste. After you give the area a thorough scrub, let that mixture sit for an hour before wiping or mopping everything off. Remember to wear a pair of protective gloves before you start, as hydrogen peroxide can cause some stinging if you have any cuts on your hands.
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6. How to clean grout using a steamer
If you know you have a big job ahead of you, chances are you don’t want to get on all fours and scrub all day. That’s why steamers can be lifesavers. The key to this method is ensuring that you have the right steamer to work with. Something with a small tank capacity, for example, will need refilling, so if you’re cleaning all bathrooms, floors and walls, then you’ll be excessively refilling, which can be annoying. You also want to make sure your steamer has a grout brush, so you don’t use the wrong accessory and damage your precious tiles.
Once the logistics are taken care of, start your cleaning process by sweeping or vacuuming the area to get rid of any surface dust. Next, you want to prep your steam cleaner. This is going to be different depending on the type of steamer you have, so follow your machine’s guidelines. Once you have all that settled, start cleaning from top to bottom if you’re cleaning walls, or start from the furthest point in the room and work your way towards the exit. (You don’t want to mess up the areas you’ve cleaned already.) Rinse or wipe down the steamed area to finish up.
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7. How to Clean Grout with OxiClean
You use it for removing stains out of your clothes and guess what? You can also use it to remove stains from your grout. OxiClean is a type of oxygen bleach powder—aka sodium percarbonate, a compound of natural soda crystals and hydrogen peroxide—so it’s inherently a power cleaner. According to the pros at Clean My Space, start by mixing roughly ¼ cup of OxiClean with one cup of boiling water. Then apply the mixture to your grout, making sure the surface is nice and wet so it can fully penetrate the surface. It’s OK to let it sit for anywhere between five and 30 minutes depending on how dirty the tiles are. Use a wet microfiber cloth to remove any left-over solution and voila!
8. How to Clean Grout with Warm Water and a Brush
If your floor is fairly new, you don’t necessarily need additional chemicals to clean your grout. A simple scrub down using some warm water and a grout brush or old toothbrush may do the trick. Just keep in mind that with no added chemicals to help lift stains, you may need to scrub a little harder to get the surface clean. In that case, you can pour a little bit of baking soda to help, otherwise, the water and brush should do the trick.