Dirty or stained grout can make even the most beautiful tiles look drab and out-dated. Before spending a fortune on replacing your tiles, take time to restore the grout and see what a difference it makes!
Because of its (typically) light colouring and porous composition, grout is prone to staining. In a tiled entry or indoor entertainment area, dirt and grime are the usual culprits, while in the kitchen, spills are more likely to blame. Soap, mould, and mildew meanwhile make it difficult to maintain clean grout in bathrooms. Fortunately, grout can be cleaned effectively using only common household products and a bit of elbow grease.
With any cleaning project, it’s always best to start off with the mildest cleaning solution. When in doubt about a cleanser, test it in a hidden spot—behind or under an appliance, for example.
Before you start cleaning the grout, first clean the entire tiled surface. Sweep floors and use warm water and mild cleaning products when cleaning tiled areas.
The following suggestions for cleaning grout are ranked from the mildest to the strongest:
- The best way to begin is with plain water and a stiff-bristled brush; most home stores and hardware stores carry an assortment of brushes specifically designed for this purpose. Simply spray warm water on the grout lines and scrub in a circular motion, wipe away the dirt and then let dry.
- For heavier dirt and mild stains use white vinegar. Fill a spray bottle with a half-and-half solution of vinegar and warm water. Spray on the grout, let it stand for five minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush. Rinse the dirt away and let dry.
- For more cleaning power, make a thick paste of baking soda and water, cover the grout lines with the paste and then spray on the vinegar solution. Once the mixture stops foaming, scrub with a brush and rinse with plain water.
- For moderate stains, you may want to use hydrogen peroxide, which is available at most pharmacies. You can use the product straight or make a paste with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Apply to the grout and scrub with a brush and rinse with plain water.
- For tougher stains and really grimy grout, try using oxygen bleach (most often sold in powdered form) available from most home stores. Read and follow the manufacturer’s directions, and make sure the area is well-ventilated. Generally, you will want to let the oxygen bleach solution work for 10 or 15 minutes before rinsing. Always rinse with clean water so that the dirt doesn’t resettle into the grout lines.
- Chlorine bleach and commercial cleansers can be used sparingly in extreme cases. These products are usually not environmentally-friendly and can be harmful if not used and stored correctly. Long-term use of caustic cleaners will erode grout, so these products should be used on a limited basis.
- Steam cleaners can be an effective and environmentally-friendly method of cleaning grout and many other surfaces around the house. Steam cleaners eliminate the hassle of scrubbing and using any chemicals. All major home stores stock a variety of steam cleaners for residential use. Remember to read the instructions for your steamer before starting and wipe away dirt as you go so that it doesn’t settle on the grout again.
Keep your grout clean and stain-free:
Spray it with vinegar and wipe it down once a week. You can also wipe grout with alcohol to keep mould and mildew at bay. In any case, just a few spritzes and wipes a week can save you a lot of time and effort cleaning, preserving the attractive appearance of your home in the process.