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How to Clean Smoke From Grout

Irene A. Blake

Dark residues and stains on grout from smoke come from a wide variety of sources such as burning cigarettes, cigars or pipes, fireplaces and wood stoves, outdoor fires and accidental fires that lead to smoke damage.

As grout is porous and absorbs smoke particles and debris, removing smoke from grout typically requires the use of a slightly acidic or mildly abrasive cleaner to weaken the surface of the grout enough to break down the smoke residues and stains trapped within it.


  1. Fill one spray bottle with undiluted distilled white vinegar. Fill a second spray bottle with carbonated water.

  2. Make a solution of one part bleach or hydrogen peroxide to five parts water in another spray bottle.

  3. Add warm water slowly to 1 cup of baking soda in a container and mix until the baking soda has a paste-like consistency.

Stain Removal

  1. Spray the smoke-stained grout with the undiluted vinegar and wait 10 to 15 minutes.

  2. Scrub the grout with a grout brush, toothbrush or plastic scrubbing pad until the smoke stain fades. If the stain doesn’t fade and you’re working with white grout, rinse away the vinegar with carbonated water and spray the bleach or hydrogen peroxide and water solution onto the stain. Wait 10 to 15 minutes and scrub again. For another option, squeeze nongel toothpaste onto the grout, wait 15 to 20 minutes and scrub, or spread the baking soda paste onto the stained grout with a spoon, wait 30 minutes and scrub. If you're working with colored grout, scrub only with the baking soda paste to remove the stain.

  3. Rinse thoroughly with water and wipe dry completely with nontextured cotton cloths.

  4. Tip

    To remove tough stains, apply a grout-approved heavy-duty cleaner or stain-removal product to the grout, wait 10 minutes—unless otherwise directed on the stripper or cleaner packaging—and scrub with a grout brush. Rinse thoroughly and wipe the grout completely dry when finished. To protect the grout from future staining, seal it with a grout or masonry sealer.


    Never use bleach or whitening toothpaste on colored grout, as doing so can remove the grout’s color. Always use natural cleaners or cleaners and stain removal products formulated to remove stains from grout, as nonformulated products may contain chemicals that can dissolve the grout. Never use solvents or strong acids to remove grout stains for the same reason. Dry the grout thoroughly when finished to help prevent mold growth.