Tile remains a popular choice for floors, backsplashes, showers and more throughout the house. Keeping that tile looking as good as new is pretty easy as long you routinely clean it.
However, you may notice the grout between your tile looking a little dingy or showing mildew spots. That could be because you don't necessarily clean it with the same attention you do when cleaning the tile. But with the right tools, you could have your tile grout looking as good as your tile.
Although they may look the same, tile grout comes in different forms, and it's important to know what type of grout you have so you properly clean it.
Made with cement, sanded grout has a gritty feel used often with tile floors in high-traffic areas because it's stronger and less likely to crack. It's typically in joints that are more than 1/8 inch wide.
Also a cement grout, unsanded grout lacks the gritty feel thanks to the absence of sand. It's used with polished stone tiles, particularly with vertical surfaces like backsplashes and shower walls. It's usually used in joints less than 1/8 inch wide.
Less porous than sanded and unsanded grout, epoxy grout contains epoxy resin, pigments, a hardener and silica. It is more durable than cement-based grouts, making it less susceptible to cracks and shrinkage.
Regardless of the type of tile grout you have, it's important to know if your grout has a sealant or not. Grout sealer will help protect the grout from mold and mildew, help protect it from spills and stains and extend the life of the grout. Knowing if your grout has sealant or not will play a role in what cleaners you can use so you don't harm the sealant.
To effectively clean your grout, make sure you have your cleaning supplies at the ready. These include:
In these grout cleaning tips, you'll follow a similar set of steps that may vary based on the cleaner used and how dirty the grout is. Essentially, you'll remove surface dirt, apply the cleaner, allow the cleaner to do its job, scrub, rinse and dry.
To ensure you don't scratch your tile or damage the grout, start with the least corrosive cleaner to remove grout stains and progress to the next one only if necessary. When you're ready, try one of these ways of cleaning grout to get yours looking as good as new.
Often, the simplest cleaning solution is the best. Spray the grout with warm water and brush in circles with the nylon brush or an old toothbrush. Never use a metal brush or steel wool on your grout as it could scratch the tile or break down the grout.
When cleaning grout, don't apply too much water. Only use enough to soften the mildew and grime. As the mildew and grime break up, wipe them away with a cleaning rag. Continue until the grout is clean.
Vinegar is a popular cleaning product for the home, and using it on sealed grout (only!) is effective. To make your own grout cleaning solution, mix equal parts of warm water and white vinegar in your spray bottle and apply it to the grout lines. Let the vinegar solution sit for no more than five minutes and scrub with a small brush.
If necessary, spray plain water to help clear away grime. Wipe clean with a damp cloth, making sure to remove any excess vinegar solution and moisture.
For sealed grout (only!), adding baking soda could be the extra ingredient needed to clear away dirt and grime thanks to its mildly abrasive characteristics. Start by mixing water with baking soda to create a paste.
Apply the paste to the grout lines and spray on the vinegar/water mixture. The mixture will start to foam, which is OK. Once it stops foaming, scrub with a toothbrush or scrub brush and rinse with clean water. Wipe dry.
When cleaning grout, really tough stains may require more cleaning power. Mix together ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide, ½ cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of dish soap until well blended.
Apply this solution to the grout lines and let the mixture sit between five and 10 minutes. Scrub with a toothbrush or nylon brush to clean away dirt and rinse with water. For stubborn stains, reapply the mixture and try scrubbing again. Use a cleaning rag to wipe away dirt and dry the grout.
You'll find many grout cleaners at your local big-box store, home centers and other retailers. When using one of these products, it's imperative to choose one for your type of grout, including whether it's sealed or not. Equally important, read all the instructions before using it, especially the safety precautions.
Depending on which grout cleaner you choose, you'll likely apply it to the grout lines and wipe clean or apply it and scrub until clean. It's a good idea to test the product in an area not readily visible, such as behind the toilet or in your pantry.
If you have a steam mop, this could be the best method for cleaning dirty grout. However, it's important to use only plain water in your steam mop. Also, do not use any brush attachment unless it's a nylon brush. Have your sponge or cleaning rag ready to wipe away dirt.
Remember, too, to watch how much water and moisture accumulate while using the steam mop. Porous, unsealed tile could soak up that excess, leading to mold and mildew growth in the future. Use a clean, dry rag or towel to dry the grout surface when you're done.
While you may consider using chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach to clean the grout in your tile floor or kitchen tile, don't. While these mixtures may clean stained grout, they could bleach out the color in your grout. This may look good for white grout, but it won't do well for colored grouts.
Also, bleach could break down the grout sealer, making it more susceptible to mold and mildew. If you do have a stubborn stain, you could apply a few drops of chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach to the grout surface and scrub it with a toothbrush. Be careful to avoid the tiles so you don't leave bleach stains behind.
Remember, too, that vinegar should only be used on sealed grout. In addition, skip the electric toothbrush, which could apply too much pressure, breaking down the grout.
There are some safety precautions you should take when cleaning grout in small enclosed areas, such as the tile on the bathroom floor or inside showers.
For instance, when using chlorine bleach, make sure the area is well-ventilated. Also, never mix baking soda and vinegar in a closed container because it will explode. And never mix vinegar with bleach.
Always have the number for the National Capital Poison Center on hand if you breathe in noxious fumes.
As pointed out in No. 4 above, a mixture of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and dish soap is one of the best homemade tile grout cleaners. Couple it with a bit of elbow grease and your grout will look great in no time.
Many professionals prefer the mixture noted in No. 2 above, a blend of vinegar and water.
Now that your grout is clean, keep it that way by washing and rinsing it each week. Not only will it keep your grout looking great, but you'll likely get away with the simple technique of washing it with water. This will keep your grout in good shape and save you money on cleaning supplies.