Tile is a beautiful detail to add to any home in your bathroom, entryway or even as a backsplash in the kitchen. Whether you prefer all-white tile or a colorful mosaic to spice up your average shower walls, done well tile can make any room shine. Tile is infamously easy to clean, but the stuff that binds tiles together? Not so much. We’re of course talking about grout, a substance that’s much more difficult to keep consistently clean. In this article we’re going to tackle the best ways to clean grout out of any spot in your home so you can focus on the beautiful tile, rather than the gunk gathering between them.
What is Grout?
To start us off, you might be wondering — what is grout? In a materials sense, it’s a mixture of cement, water and colorful pigments that bind things together during construction projects. It’s typically used between tiles in bathroom floors, entryway floors, kitchen backsplashes and even shower doors.
Why Does Grout Get So Dirty?
Because grout is a porous, rough material that tends to be lighter in color dirt, mold and other grime tends to stick to it easily and gathers over time. If your grout is gathering on tiles in your entryway or mudroom it’s probably dirt from your shoes being tracked in. If your grout is more concentrated in your bathroom, mold and mildew are probably the culprit due to the increased humidity. Grout, no matter where it is, is something you’ll want to clean right away since it tends to be a breeding ground for bacteria and mildew.
How Do You Clean Grout
There are a bunch of different methods and tools for cleaning grout. These include specific scrubbing brushes, cleaning sprays and other chemical mixtures that’ll keep grout from coming back. I’ve gathered a bunch of supplies below as well as recipes for homemade cleaning sprays you can make with ingredients you probably have around the house. I’ve also split everything up into different categories to make your research and purchase process as smooth as possible.
One absolute must-know tip before we start is that you should always avoid using a mop, rag or other potentially dirty piece of cleaning equipment to clean grout. All they’ll do is push around the bacteria and gunk they’ve accumulated in their fibers or bristles and potentially introduce even more grime to your grout problem. This is potentially a reason why grout has a reputation for being difficult to clean — so make sure you’re always using a fresh towel, brush or wipe.
Part I: Brushes
Living & Giving Grout Brush
This multifunction grout brush has a 3-in-1 design with a long brush for wall tiles, a curve brush for showers and sinks and a big scrubber for general jobs. Each brush has the stiff bristles you need to scrub away dirt that’s built up over time, and the ergonomic design makes them as comfortable to hold as possible. These brushes are made of ABS plastic and are super easy to clean in warm water so you can reuse them again and again.
Grout Groovy Electric Stand-Up Grout Cleaner
This stand-up grout cleaner is a little easier on the knees and makes cleaning grout quick and easy when combined with the right cleaning solution. It weighs less than four pounds total and can be used in bathrooms, hallways and kitchens. The brush wheel is super durable and is made to be used on most types of tile.
BISSELL SteamShot Steam Cleaner
This steam cleaner from BISSELL is more of an intense option, but an option nonetheless for getting rid of super stubborn grout in your home or even backyard. It’s a high-pressure steam cleaner with easy-to-press buttons so your powerful steam comes quickly on demand. It’s a 100% chemical-free solution if you’d rather use pressurized water than anything that’ll dissolve the grime itself. It comes with three different rounded brushes that’ll make scrubbing easier, including a brush specifically designed for grout.
Holikme 8 Piece Drill Brush
If you’ve got serious grout that requires some serious tools, a drill brush is a great way to go. This brush comes with three different shapes for power scrubber brushes, as well as a four inch backer and scouring pads with two different stiffness levels. The different brush styles are each better for tile and grout in your kitchen, bathroom, shower, etc. You can also use the scouring pads for things like your kitchen stove or even stubborn grime that’s stuck on cast iron skillets.
Part II: Homemade Cleaning Solutions
There are plenty of commercial cleaning solutions you can buy from top-notch brands which I’ve included below. However, if you’re a DIYer and prefer to make your own stuff here are some recipes for grout cleaner you can make using ingredients like water, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and other cleaning materials.
First of all, you’ll want to start off gentle with just a brush and some warm water. Harsher ingredients can damage or bleach your tile, especially if it’s older or a color other than white.
If That Doesn’t Work, Use Vinegar
If just water doesn’t work for you, use a mixture of vinegar and water to clean your grout.
This Calyptus 45% concentrated vinegar is 9x as concentrated than regular vinegar and is industrial-strength so you’ll definitely want to dilute it down using water. This whole gallon can make up to nine gallons of cleaning fluid which is the equivalent of filling up 72 16-ounce spray bottles. Suffice to say you’ll be stocked.
If That Doesn’t Work, Create a Baking Soda Paste
Combining baking soda and water can form a powerful paste that bonds to the grout and can help strip away the grime. You can also use it in combination with vinegar for a deeper clean.
Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
If That Doesn’t Work, Use Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is another powerful cleaner that many have lying around the house for medicinal purposes. You can combine it with water and scrub it onto grout to remove any super set-on stains.
Solimo Hydrogen Peroxide Solution
If That Doesn’t Work, Use an Oxygen-Based Bleach Solution
If you want a powerful homemade solution that also isn’t too rough on the planet, use an oxygen-based bleach produce like OxiClean detergent combined with hydrogen peroxide. It’ll form a paste that’ll adhere closely to the grout rather than dripping down the tile, and it’ll even prevent mold from growing back in the long term.
OxiClean Stain Remover Powder
One important note about homemade cleaning solutions — you’ll absolutely want to avoid using chemical bleach in combination with any of the ingredients above. Using chemical bleach combined with vinegar can release toxic fumes into the air that are harmful to breathe in, so you’ll want to avoid that at all costs.
Part III: Commercial Cleaning Solutions
Lastly, there are some sprays and cleansing solutions designed specifically for grout. If you’re not a DIYer, we highly recommend following the instructions on how to use each of the sprays below to get rid of your stubborn grime.
Grout-Eez Heavy Duty Tile & Grout Cleaner
This professional-grade grout tile cleaner is formulated to remove all types of dirt and stains from your ceramic tiles and the spaces in between them. It’s super easy to use, works quickly and it comes with a brush that’ll connect to a standard broom pole so you can just brush it on without getting on your hands and knees. It’s got an easy pour spout and each bottle can clean approximately 250 sq. ft. of tile. One important note about this solution — it’s not to be used on natural stone.
Black Diamond Ultimate Grout Cleaner
This grout cleaner isn’t designed for mold and mildew so don’t buy it to use in your bathroom, but it will work on other grime like dirt and grease. It’s a deep cleaner for food spills and soap scum, and is acid-free so it’s safe to use on white and colored grout as well. It also isn’t designed to clean calcium or water spots, so stick to stains in the kitchen with this one.
Zep Grout Cleaner and Brightener
This solution is made to not just remove stains and dirt but brighten up grout as well. It’s a versatile grout cleaner that’s safe to use on most floors, even those with colored grout. It’s a bleach-free, acidic formula that requires little to no cleaning or scrubbing. It’s perfect for use on white or colored tiles, it’s not meant to be used on marble, terrazzo, travertine, natural stone, stainless steel or brass.
Goo Gone Grout & Tile Cleaner
This grout cleaner is designed to break down stains from mold, mildew, hard water and soap scum. It’s also a tile cleaner that can remove built-up dirt and stains on the tiles themselves, and it’s safe to use on grout as well as ceramic and porcelain tiles.
Natural Tile Grout Cleaner
This tile and grout cleaner from Rock Doctor is designed to remove grease, dirt, soap scum and oil from grout with an environmentally-safe and biodegradable formula that won’t harm many different types of tile. It’s made of a combination of organic salts, water conditioning agents and surfactants that create an acid-free alternative to harsher cleaners. This formula, unlike others, is safe to use on colored grout, porcelain and ceramic tile as well as both glazed and unglazed tile and granite.
GELIVABLE Mold and Mildew Remover Gel
This is not a cleaning spray but rather a gel that clings to grout, stays for 3-5 hours and then can be easily removed with a wet towel. It’s got a powerful formula that raises all kinds of oil spots and stains while being low odor, eco-friendly, safe and effective. It’s also bleach-free and penetrates into the mold deeply for long-lasting protection from future growth.