The Best Way to Clean Grout

One of the best ways to make your tile look like new is cleaning the grout that fills the gaps between them. Here are some of the best ways to clean the grout in your house.

Someone Cleaning Grout with Toothbrush

Got tile in your house? Then you likely also have dingy grout. If the grout and tile were all the same shade, it might not be that bad. But let’s be realistic here: That’s likely not the case, and you’d be lying if you said you could pull it off as such. What’s more, high-traffic areas of floors and corners of showers tend to take on an extra-special hue of dirt or mildew, making that filthy grout even more obvious. Who wants their guests to notice that? It’s time to get down to the nitty gritty — or dirty and grimy, rather — and take care of that grout once and for all.

Related: Bathroom Cleaning 101: What You Need to Know

1. Make Necessary Grout Repairs

First things first, if pieces of grout are missing, you must repair the grout before doing anything else. Otherwise, all your cleaning will be for naught. You’ll end up making the damage worse and creating the perfect refuge for dirt, mold and mildew — especially in a bathroom. You don’t want water seeping behind or under the other tiles. And even on floors in dry areas, missing grout can lead to loose tiles. Re-grout around the tiles, where necessary, by purchasing new grout (that matches your existing grout, unless you plan to re-grout the whole area), removing the loose grout with a grout saw, cleaning the seams, spreading the new grout and cleaning the tile. Note: It sounds like a tedious process, but it actually goes by pretty quickly — especially if you have a helper (one person grouts while the other person comes behind with a wet sponge to wipe down the tile).

2. Use What You Have on Hand

If your existing grout is in good shape, you can move on to the actual cleaning process. And guess what? You likely already have the tools to tackle the job. If you’re lucky, you’ll find that the best way to clean grout in your home is also the simplest, cheapest and least toxic way: good old water and elbow grease. Simply use a stiff brush or toothbrush and warm water to remove light dirt and mildew. Scrub in a circular pattern and rinse with warm water. Tip: If you need a little extra elbow grease help, try using the folded edge of a piece of sandpaper to lightly sand the soiled surface of the grout instead of the brush.

If that doesn’t do the trick, create a stronger tile grout cleaner solution by adding vinegar to the warm water. Stronger still would be adding a paste made of baking soda and water to the grout. Spray the baking soda paste with the mixture of warm water and vinegar and let it sit while the bubbling reaction takes place. Then, scrub it and rinse it with water. Still not cutting it? Try adding a little hydrogen peroxide to the grout.

3. Consider Store-Bought Grout Cleaner Supplies

The home remedies didn’t pan out, huh? That’s okay. There are plenty of products on the market that may do the trick, namely commercial shower grout cleaners and bleach solutions. Just follow the manufacturer's instructions. Be warned, though, that the bleach solutions should only be used in extreme cases, and long-term use will end up eroding the grout.

If you have cleaned your grout and it still doesn’t look like new, there is a way to put that bright white, or grey or whatever color you want to your grout without a brand new grout job. Try a grout pen. You do need a steady hand to go with it, though, as grout pens use an ink formula. You simply ink over the clean grout. Easy as that. But you should note that this is not a job for the impatient. Look at how much grout there is, and decide if you have that much patience. Because patience is cheap, like grout pens, though, it could pay off.

4. Keep It Clean

Want to avoid doing this major grout cleaning on a regular basis? Keep your grout properly maintained. Spray it with vinegar and wipe it down a mere one time a week. You can also wipe alcohol on the grout to specifically keep mold and mildew from collecting. Better yet, grab a silicone-based grout sealer at the store and keep the grout from looking dirty for up to two years.

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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