Tips on Cleaning Grout

Kristen Bedell

Cleaning grout may seem like a tiresome chore requiring harsh chemicals, elbow grease and hours of hard work. Although caring for grout does require a bit of effort and time, periodic cleaning and proper maintenance will extend the life of the grout, simplify the maintenance process, and preserve the beauty and appearance of the room. Properly maintained grout can also protect the home by preventing water and mold damage.

Chemical Free Cleaners

Clean grout preserves the natural beauty of tile.

Homemade grout cleaners without harsh chemicals are a cost-effective and environmentally friendly method to clean and maintain tile grout. To make a simple grout cleaning solution combine 1 part water with 3 parts baking soda to form a paste. Rub the paste into the grout and allow it to sit for 15 to 20 minutes. With a grout brush or old toothbrush scrub the grout vigorously to remove dirt and surface stains. Repeat the process if necessary and rinse the area with warm water to remove any paste residue. Alternately, you can use shaving cream in place of the baking soda paste to quickly and safely clean grout.

Mold & Mildew Cleaners

Mold and mildew often grow in tile grout located in showers, bathrooms and other high-moisture areas. It can be very difficult to remove mold and mildew with mild cleansers and many homeowners turn to chemical or bleach-based cleaners to effectively remove mold and mildew. It is possible to make a cost-effective homemade cleaner strong enough to eliminate tough mold and mildew stains. In a clean spray bottle, mix 1 part bleach with 3 parts water. Generously spray the mixture on the affected areas and allow the solution to stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Use a grout brush or old toothbrush to scrub the grout lines and rinse the area with warm water. Supermarkets and home improvement stores also sell a variety of highly effective cleansers designed to remove mold and mildew stains.

Professional Cleaning

Often tile grout is stained and soiled beyond the capabilities of homemade or supermarket cleaning products. Professional strength grout cleaning solutions are available at some home improvement stores and janitorial supply stores. The professional grade cleaners are capable of removing a variety of stubborn stains including grease, soap scum, algae and mildew.

Large areas of grout that require heavy cleaning may benefit from a professional steam cleaning. This cleaning method utilizes a specialized machine to apply a high-pressure vapor. This vapor removes deep stains, mold and mildew, as well as sanitizes the grout and tiles.

Maintaining Grout

Proper maintenance and care is one of the easiest ways to keep grout clean and stain free. Grout should be cleaned on a regular basis using a mild cleanser to prevent the buildup of dirt and grime on the grout's surface. In addition to regular cleaning, sealing grout is an important maintenance component. There are two basic types of grout, cement based and epoxy grouts. Epoxy grouts are chemically cured and do not require sealant. Cement based grouts should be sealed within 72 hours of installation. The grout may need to be resealed on an annual basis depending on the quality of the original sealant, traffic patterns and general grout maintenance. Properly sealed grouts will resist stains, moisture, and simplify future maintenance.

Restoring Grout

After years of wear and tear it is often difficult to restore grout to its original color using simple cleaning methods. Many homeowners feel that their only solution is to completely remove the old grout and regrout the entire area. Grout stains are a great alternative to removing old grout. Grout stains are an epoxy-based stain formulated to penetrate the grout and seal it with a permanent color. For optimum results the grout should be thoroughly cleaned and surface particles and dirt should be removed before the stain is applied. Complete grout stain kits are available in a variety of colors at home improvement stores and flooring centers.