Best products and methods to clean your grout
If you have landed here because you want to know how to clean your tile grout, you certainly aren’t alone.
It’s a definite pain point among homeowners and renters alike. But, once you learn how you can achieve the good as new tiled floor or shower look, you be motivated to use these hacks in the rest of your tiled areas.
Knowing how to clean grout isn’t complicated, but it can become frustrating with extremely stubborn stains.
Most of the time you will be successful in your cleaning endeavors, but there are times when it’s necessary to pull it out and replace it.
Before you get started on cleaning your grout, it’s important to decide what tactic you are going to try. You can always hire a professional to come and do the cleaning for you, but that can get pretty pricey.
Most homeowners opt to do it themselves. This is cheaper and usually just as effective.
Please note that this article may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.
How to clean grout
First and foremost, it’s important to make sure you are protecting yourself. Grout is full of bacteria (and who knows what else), so put a pair of gloves on before you start cleaning your grout.
Next, you want to wipe down the grout with hot water and a rag. Remove as much of the surface dirt and grime as possible.
Make sure that you are using clean water, as dirty mop water is a common cause of discolored grout.
After this, you need to spray a cleaning solution on the grout. You can use a DIY mixture, or a commercially purchased grout cleaner.
Keep in mind, cleaning the grout can be physically demanding and time-intensive so it’s worth it for many of us to go with a good product versus the homemade route.
What is the best grout cleaner?
There are plenty of grout cleaners out there and it can be difficult to know which one to get. Truth be told, many of the formulas are similar, so there is more than one good option that may work for you.
It’s critical that you find a cleanser that has a balanced pH so that it will not erode the grout over time.
Our top recommendation for a commercial cleaner is Grout-Eez Heavy Duty Tile & Grout Cleaner. It’s easy to use, comes with a grout brush, and is very highly rated.
Video: Grout-Eez in action for grout cleaning
How to scrub grout
Once you apply the spray to the grout, let it sit. Most sprays need to sit for five to ten minutes but check your individual cleaner for the recommended waiting time.
After the cleaner has sat, it’s time to scrub. The Grout-Eez cleaner comes with a quality grout brush, but if you purchase something else you may need to get a brush (like this one) separately.
When selecting a brush, it’s crucial that you get something with medium or hard bristles.
If you get a brush with too strong of bristles (not meant for grout), you can end up scrubbing off the grout which can cause other problems. A soft brush may not be able to remove debris properly.
You want to scrub with the right amount of pressure.
This follows the same idea as the type of brush you use. Too much pressure can damage the grout, too little won’t get it clean.
Circular motions are usually best, as you don’t want to risk damaging the grout lines. With the right grout cleanser, it should be fairly easy to get all of the dirt and grime out of the grout.
Rinse. Once you are done scrubbing, it’s time to rinse. You want to rinse with plain water, and make sure and wipe up the mess.
It’s incredibly important that you make sure you get all of the dirty water up, or else your grout will remain dirty and you risk it becoming stained.
Using a shop vac is a great option that ensures you get all of the dirty water up.
You may need to reapply the grout cleaner to some areas, but a high-quality cleaner will reduce is possibility.
What is the best homemade grout cleaner?
If you are interested in making your own homemade cleanser, you will find there are plenty of recommended combinations out there.
Our personal favorite includes baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and liquid dish soap.
Recommended Grout Cleaner Ingredients:
- ½ cup of baking soda
- ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide
- 1 tsp of liquid dish soap
- A good stiff brush
- Mix all three ingredients together in a small squeeze-top container. Squeeze this mixture onto the grout that needs cleaning, and let it sit for five to seven minutes.
- After it sits, scrub at the grout with the grout brush (or another stiff brush). Stay away from metal brushes, as this can scratch your tile and pull out grout. Gently wipe away the mixture with the rag, and rinse with water.
- Once it’s rinsed, the best way to remove the water is to use a shop vac and vacuum up the dirty water. This will help pull the dirty water and soap film off the floor.
How to clean stubborn grout stains
If a homemade solution or commercial cleaner route does not work, you may have to use something like a good quality steam mop (here’s our favorite), or a more heavy duty cleaner to remove the stain.
You can find many commercial heavy-duty cleaners at a hardware or janitorial store. Bleach is a common choice that works, but not without a cost.
Bleach should not be used often, as it can damage your grout if it’s overused.
Bleach (or other heavy duty cleaners) should only be used on tough stains, not for regular upkeep of your grout.
Bleach can also stain colored grout, so it’s important to avoid it if you have colored grout.
There are plenty of ways to use bleach for cleaning grout, but the easiest effective way we could find involves soaking cotton balls in bleach and placing the soaked cotton balls over the grout.
Let this sit overnight and gently wipe away the next morning.
If you are concerned about the toxic fumes for any reason, you can pick up some oxygen bleach to use instead.
Oxygen bleach is non-toxic, non-odorous, and safe for the environment. Technically, hydrogen peroxide is a form of oxygen bleach, however, it’s very dilute.
This makes it not ideal for cleaning.
Oxygen bleach is also sold in a powder form that can be mixed with water to create a paste that can be applied to grout directly.
Can I use vinegar to clean my tile and grout?
According to the Tile Council of North America, vinegar is not a good choice for cleaning your grout. Your grout is primarily made of cement and sand.
Cement is alkaline based, which means it is dissolved by acids. Vinegar is acid-based, which means it can wear down and ruin your grout over time.
Now, plenty of people use vinegar without any apparent issue, but it’s not recommended as a best practice. Some tile installers use acid-based cleaners to remove very stubborn stains on grout.
This often does work, but can mean you will need to re-grout much sooner as it can dissolve the top layer.
What else should I avoid using to clean my grout?
Do not clean your grout with wax or oil-based cleaners (such as PineSol or Pledge). Grout is porous and can absorb the oils the same as it absorbs soap or stains.
This will leave an oily film in the grout that will be incredibly difficult to remove.
Grout sealers will help prevent any future staining and makes cleaning your grout a much easier process. It’s worth the time and money it will save you in the future.
Keep in mind, the grout needs to be cleaned and dried before it is resealed. If there are cracks or chips, they will need to be addressed before sealing.
You can read more about sealing your grout in this article. You want to seal the grout after your tiles are installed (most people miss this crucial step…and that’s why grout gets so dirty.
And, you will want to reseal the grout annually. Find out why it’s so important here.
Why does grout get so dirty?
Grout is a rough and porous material, usually made from cement and sand. Unfortunately, it absorbs dirt and grime and they adhere to it easily. And liquid can easily soak into it, thus making it look discolored.
Surprisingly, dirty mop water is one of the most common culprits for discolored grout. The dirt from the mop water seeps into the grout, settling and causing discoloration.
Quick tips for how to clean grout
Do not use a toothbrush. A toothbrush is often not stiff enough and will not clean effectively.
On that note, a strong electric toothbrush may have enough power, but most people use their electric toothbrushes for other things.
Keep your fan on or window open during and after showers. Excess build up of moisture can cause mildew and mold to grow on your grout.
If you prefer (and have the time) you can also wipe down your wet tile with a dry towel after your shower.
An alternative is you can use a daily no-wipe shower spray. This will help reduce the frequency in which your shower tile and grout will need to be cleaned.
Reseal your grout every year or two. Sealing the grout helps keep your grout looking nice, and it helps prevent mold and mildew.
The exception to this rule is if you use epoxy-based grout.
If you aren’t sure what type of grout you have, you can read more about the differences between epoxy and cement grout here.
Best places to buy grout cleaner
There are many places you can buy Grout Eez online. I’d have to say my top choice is Amazon, as they are so convenient and deliver quickly (and there is free shipping).
You can also find it here
- Home Depot
- The Floor Guys
Final thoughts on grout cleaning
When your grout gets dirty, it’s looks old and grimy. And, of course you create a home for mold and bacteria. Cleaning your grout can make a big difference in both looks and having a healthy environment. After you clean your grout, you will feel much better. And, don’t forget to seal the grout afterwards so it will hold up better.
Related Tile and Cleaning articles:
- Best steam mop for tile floors
- How to seal your grout…and why it’s so important
- Best vacuum for hardwood flooring
- The 5 hardwood cleaning products and the one I recommend to my customers
- 15 stunning black and white mosaic tiles
- Best places to shop for wood look tiles
- Best upholstery and spot cleaners if you have pets