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Grout Cleaner

Updated on July 14, 2009

Do you remember when you’d just moved into your new house or just had a new kitchen or bathroom installed? Do you remember how clean and shiny everything looked and how proud you were of your living space? Ahh, happy days, the words “grout cleaners” couldn’t have been further from your mind. Unfortunately it doesn’t take long for your beloved tiles to get dirty, greasy or moldy and within months, without constant cleaning and care your tiles and more specifically, the grout between the tiles will start to look pretty grim. Never fear though, with a little physical effort and the right tile grout cleaner you should be able to get your kitchen or bathroom looking like new again.

It’s worth mentioning at the outset that prevention is the best cure and once you’ve got your tiles looking good then cleaning little but often will save you much harder cleaning later on.

Dirty Grout

Different types of grime

In this article we will be focusing on a ceramic tile grout cleaner, as this is the most common type of tile used in most households. If your tiles are made of a different material then it is worth checking the label on the cleaning product to make sure it is suitable. Furthermore one of the more common problems encountered with bathroom tiles, and to a lesser extent kitchen tiles, is mildew and there are specific products available for mildew removal.

The types of dirt and grime we are looking at in this article are predominantly cause by general ware and tear, grease and food in the kitchen and bodily grime and dirty soap suds in the bathroom

Types of tile and grout cleaners

How far along are you with your tile and grout cleaner problems? As mentioned above if you take care of your tiles on a regular basis then you should be fine to use a fairly basis household cleaning product. These products, from your local supermarket, will not have too many harsh chemical agents in them, which is what makes them good for constant use week in and week out. Remember that while constant scrubbing is to be encouraged this too will, over time, damage your tiles so less is more when it comes to the strength of your tile and grout cleaner. Start with a simple and low acid solution at first and see how you get on.

I’m going to assume however that the problem is already worse than this and the dirt is so bad that you’re having trouble even remembering what the original color of your grout was! In this case you will need a commercial grout cleaner. These stronger products can be bought from DIY shops or hardware stores but I would recommend saving yourself the trip and buying on line from somewhere like Amazon. There’s plenty of physical work involved so you might as well let your postman do the hard work of bringing the product to your door. When using a higher strength product spray it onto the area to clean and then let it stand for a few minutes before cleaning the area.

Bleaching or a grout steam cleaner

If you’re grout is in a really bad way and neither of the above solutions is working then a final avenue to explore is a bleaching agent or a steam cleaner. Chlorine bleaches or oxygen bleach powders are a great way to dissolve stains but beware; their bleaching agents are rarely suitable for colored grouts as they will whiten the grout causing discoloration.

A high powered steam cleaner is another great solution especially if you have large areas of tiles to clean. The high pressure of the steam will blast off stubborn dirt and grime that other conventional cleaners can’t tackle. Again be aware that this may not be suitable for old or damaged grout as the intense pressure may end up damaging your grout work.

Elbow Grease

Whichever method you choose there is no getting away from some physical work when tackling this chore. Start your cleaning by experimenting in a small unobtrusive area so you can test the results before you really get going. Clean the area with a hot water using a sponge to remove loose dirt and debris and then allow to dry. You will then need a stiff scrubbing brush. An old toothbrush will likely be too soft for the job while using any kind of metal brush will probably be too harsh with the danger of you removing the grout along with the dirt! So a firm stiff scrubbing brush is ideal but make sure it is a suitable and comfortable size for your hands otherwise you will tire yourself out and find it difficult to clean those awkward areas.

Try to keep a steady pace and work within a limited area so you can see the results as you go and not lose track of where you started. It may seem a little laborious but you will see better results if you scrub in smaller circular motions rather than directly up and down. The idea is to really get the bristles into all areas of the grout. Once you have cleaned a set area rinse with warm soapy water and continue once you are satisfied with the result.

Best Grout Cleaner

As discussed above there are some excellent domestic grout cleaners available but I personally tend to buy a product that is really targeted to the job in hand, rather than buy a multipurpose cleaner. If you can find two products, one to clean the grout and then another to reseal the area then I would go for that. As grout is a porous material your grout should have been sealed at installation and, while you certainly don’t need to reseal after every clean, it might not be such a bad idea to seal the area again possibly once a year if possible.

If all this seems like a lot of work then think of it as an investment. This time and effort will ensure your house stays looking new which will be a big benefit if you ever come to sell your property.


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    • David Ford profile image

      David Ford 7 years ago

      Thanks Talloni. Good tips.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 7 years ago from the short journey

      Good stuff on getting rid of yuck.

      After years of fighting southern mildew I discovered two common sense cleaners for keeping aging bath areas free of regrowth. Vinegar in a spray bottle for tub grout and shower curtains, and peroxide for the floor tile grout.