We Asked a Professional Cleaning Expert About the Best Ways to Clean Grout

best ways to clean grout
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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 notoriously 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. We consulted cleaning experts for their best advice for regular grout maintenance, as well as getting rid of stubborn stains if you haven’t touched it in a while. Keep reading to learn more.

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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.

  

Supplies for Cleaning Grout

For advice on cleaning grout, we turned to Bailey Carson, a home care expert at Angi who specializes in projects like this one.

His list of cleaning supplies for tackling stubborn grout includes:

  • A sponge or towel
  • A toothbrush or cleaning brush (we’ve included a grout-specific brush from Amazon below)
  • A safety razor (we’ll explain in a second)
  • Tile-safe cleaner
  • A broom or vacuum
  • Steam mops (optional)

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. Carson noted you should “try to steer clear of a mop and bucket. While you might think of these as go-to tile floor cleaners, they actually just spread the dirt around the floor and can end up scrubbing grime deeper into the grout between your tiles.”

  

How to Clean Grout

“Start by applying the cleaning solution to your grout. Use an old toothbrush or a small cleaning brush to scrub the tiles. Depending on when the grout was last cleaned, this part may require a bit of elbow grease,” said Carson.

“If your dirty grout is particularly stubborn, you may have to use a safety razor to remove excess dirt. Once all the residue is gone, sweep or vacuum up the residue, wipe everything down and enjoy your clean floors.”

How to Clean Grout That Has Turned Yellow:

“If your white grout has started to turn yellow, you’ll want to follow up the razor step by spraying the surface with a non-abrasive, non-bleach degreaser. An at-home solution can be made out of equal parts ammonia and water. Use a spray bottle to soak the grout and then start scrubbing with hot water. When your grout is looking white again, do a final rinse with hot water,” said Carson.

How to Clean Grout That Has Turned Black:

Carson also added that “hiring a pro can be helpful when your grout is particularly dirty or when you just don’t have enough time to do it yourself. Pros also have access to more specialized cleaning tools, like steam mops, that can clean your floors more deeply than you can when doing it by hand.”

  

The Best Products for Cleaning Grout

The best supplies for cleaning grout are going to largely depend on what type of tile you have in your space. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are going to require a different type of cleaner than stone tiles, for example. Make sure you know which type of surface you’re dealing with before purchasing and using cleaning supplies.

Carson clarified that “for ceramic or porcelain tiles, cleaners in the Angi network note that you can use a more aggressive acidic cleaner, or a mixture of vinegar and baking soda, to get rid of stubborn stains. However, for stone floors, you’ll need to opt for an alkaline cleaner or other stone-safe cleaning product like non-chlorine bleach.”

  

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.

living & giving grout brush, best ways to clean grout Courtesy of Amazon

  

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.

 

grout groovy grout cleaner brush, best ways to clean grout Courtesy of Amazon

  

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.

bissell steamshot steam cleaner, best ways to clean grout Courtesy of Amazon

  

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.

Holikme drill brush, best ways to clean grout Courtesy of Amazon

  

Bissell Power Fresh Steam Mop

This mop from Bissell is designed to clean floors with the power of steam, rather than harsh chemicals. It eliminates 99.9% of germs and has a flip down scrubber for tough stains and messes. It has smart steam control built in and you can choose between low, medium and high steam depending on the area of your house you’re cleaning. The scrubber is designed specifically to reach deep and clean grout between tiles, and there are fragrance inserts you can use to freshen up your clean.

Bissell steam mop, how to clean grout Courtesy of Amazon

  

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.

Carson explained that “if you’d prefer to make your grout cleaner at home, try using a paste made from 2 or 3 cups of baking soda mixed with 1 cup of warm water. For tougher stains, try adding in a little 3% hydrogen peroxide. This at-home solution is best for white grout and tiles, since it can leave behind a whitish residue.”

Calyptus Concentrated Vinegar

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.

calyptus vinegar, best ways to clean grout Courtesy of Amazon

  

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda

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, best ways to clean grout Courtesy of Amazon

  

Solimo Hydrogen Peroxide Solution

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, best ways to clean grout Courtesy of Amazon

  

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

oxiclean stain remover powder, best ways to clean grout Courtesy of Amazon

  

Ingredients or Formulas You Should Avoid When Cleaning Grout

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.

Bleach can also damage your grout and tile permanently, Carson explained. “Chlorine bleach is also a no-go when it comes to cleaning grout and tiles because this, and other similar chemicals, can actually damage or ruin your grout or even discolor your tiles.”

  

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.

grout-eez heavy duty tile and grout cleaner, best ways to clean grout Courtesy of Amazon

  

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.

black diamond grout cleaner, best ways to clean grout Courtesy of Amazon

  

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.

 

zep grout cleaner, best ways to clean grout Courtesy of Amazon

  

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.

goo gone grout cleaner, best ways to clean grout Courtesy of Amazon

  

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.

rock doctor natural tile and grout cleaner, best ways to clean grout Courtesy of Amazon

  

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.

GELIVABLE mold and mildew remover gel, best ways to clean grout Courtesy of Amazon