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How to clean grout in tiles

Last Updated Aug 22, 2017 · Written by Jaclyn Fitzgerald

Grout is a porous substance. It's usually white or light in appearance. To complicate matters, grout is on floors or humid environments like the bathroom. Eventually, grout gets dirty and mould can form. You might easily be able to clean tiles, but if grout is dirty, it detracts from the appearance of your floor or wall tiles.

Before you try cleaning grout off floors, vacuum the floor thoroughly. Doing this will prevent getting dirt on the grout, which will make cleaning the grout harder. If you are cleaning wall tiles, it's a good idea to wash the tiles with warm water before you clean the grout.

Cleaning grout

Depending on how dirty grout is and what type of stains are in the grout, there are several ways to clean it. The method you choose will depend on the the condition of the grout.

Standard grout treatment

There are many grout cleaning products on the market. They can be effective, but they contain chemicals that smell bad and can potentially be dangerous. If you use this method, be sure to wear rubber gloves, a long sleeved shirt and eye protection. You should also wear a breathing mask. While commercial grout cleaning products can be effective, they contain harsh chemicals you may not want to use.

If you don't want to use a harsh chemical treatment, there are gentler and effective ways to clean grout. These methods use relatively harmless solutions. For the toughest stains, you may need to use bleach. If you need to use this method, you should wear protective gloves, eye protection and a face mask. Here are several safer methods for cleaning grout, from lightly soiled grout to the toughest stains.

Lightly soiled grout

If the grout is only lightly soiled, a simple cleaning with warm water may clean it. Spray warm water on the grout and clean in a circular motion using a small, nylon brush or toothbrush. This method will remove mildly soiled grout.

It may be a good idea to start with this method to clean surface dirt. You may need to move on to tougher methods if the grout or some of the grout has more stubborn stains.

Tough grout stains

If the first method doesn't work, try using a half and half solution of vinegar and warm water. As with the first method, spray the solution on the grout and scrub with a stiff bristled brush in a circular motion. The vinegar will help remove stains water alone cannot remove.

Tougher grout stains

Sometimes the vinegar and water solution isn't enough to remove stains. Another method is to make a paste of baking soda and water. Cover the grout with the paste and spray the half and half vinegar and water solution on the paste. The paste will foam up. Wait until it stops foaming and scrub with a stiff brush.

Tougher grout stains

Even Tougher Grout Stains

If the previous method doesn't work, you may need to try an even tougher treatment. This treatment involves making a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. You can find hydrogen peroxide in some hardware stores and most chemists. Make the paste, cover the grout and let set for five minutes. You shouldn't need to scrub this solution. Wash off with warm water and many stains will simply wash away with the water.

The Toughest Grout Stains

Sometimes even the baking soda and hydrogen peroxide treatment won't work. This is when you need to use bleach. Make a paste of two parts baking soda and one part bleach. Remember bleach can be harsh on the skin and avoid getting bleach in the eyes, so wear gloves and protective eye gear.

The toughest grout stains

Start by applying the solution to the grout. Leave the solution on the grout for five minutes. Come back and scrub the grout with a stiff bristled brush. Wait another five minutes before you rinse the solution off with warm water. This method should remove even the toughest stains.

Preventing grout stains

Grout gets dirty due to lack of maintenance. One good way to keep tiles and grout clean is to spray vinegar on the tiles and grout once a week and wipe clean. The vinegar will remove soap scum and help keep the grout clean.

Mould is a constant problem when grout is in a humid environment. A good way to prevent mould from forming is to dab alcohol on the grout. The alcohol will kill mould spores and keep your grout sparkling.

Prevenitng grout stains

You may still get small stains on grout. Toothpaste can remove some of these stains. Apply the toothpaste, let it stand for a few minutes and scrub off with an old toothbrush. Another way to remove smaller stains is to rub them with an eraser.  

Finally, consider applying grout sealer to new grout. You will have to wait 10 to 14 days for the sealer to cure, but if the grout is new, you may have other jobs to complete before you need to use the kitchen or bathroom. A good grout sealer will prevent stains from forming and make cleaning grout easier.

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