Grout Cleaning Tips

Grout Cleaning and Stain Removal

Grout used between tile is a mixture of Portland cement, color, and sand.

If not properly maintained by sealing and cleaning grout will become discolored and full of mold and mildew.

Dirt and grime will collect porous holes on the grout surface and if it is not sealed, the grout will discolor because there is no protective sealer which covers, fills and permeates the porous surface.

If not sealed, even mopping the floor will cause discoloration to the unsealed grout. All the dirt-filled holes will hold on tightly to the dirt and the mop will just move the dirt from one little hole to the other.

When mopping, your tile grout (which has a rough surface) basically cleans the dirty mop by allowing the dirt in the mop water to fill in the tiny holes.

Bottom line, if your grout is not sealed, it will become nasty, dingy and covered in dirt. Mold and mildew that is lurking in your damp shower will turn your grout to a nasty shade, too — all the way from a delicate pink to mottled brown, speckled or even solid black.

How To Clean Grout

The best way to clean it is to use liquid extraction to loosen the dirt from the grout and use a wet/dry vacuum to pull the dirt back up and out of the holes. The best way to minimize dirty grout is to lay the tile close together to have very thin and narrow grout lines.

Seal the grout with a very good (and likely expensive) grout sealer. If you elect not to seal the grout, you will have a very nasty mess in a short amount of time – which will cause you to again go out and search the internet for this page. If you don’t protect your grout with a sealer, it will become dirty and very difficult to maintain – period. Also use floor mats in your door ways to help keep the floors clean. And last but not least, it’s a good idea to remove your shoes before entering your home.

Tile and Grout Cleaners

This is a great homemade tile and grout cleaner that is safe for frequent use. It also works well for removing soap scum and cleaning tile counters.

  • 1/2 cup of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • 7 cups of water

Combine all the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well to mix. Do not use this in conjunction with chlorine bleach or where chlorine bleach has been used. Simply spray it on and then wipe with a damp sponge or cloth. No rinsing required.

Mold and Mildewed Grout

To clean mildewed grout in tub and shower enclosures:

Scrub with a solution of one part liquid chlorine bleach to five parts water. Use a bristle brush and agitate. Let sit for 5 minutes and rinse thoroughly.

Cleaning Grout Haze on Ceramic or Porcelain Tile

Grout used between tile is actually cement. Efflorescence (a whitish powder) can occur with any application of a Portland cement product.

Here’s what the grout manufactures recommend to do if this happens. New applications of grout takes 3 full days to cure, so make sure the grout is fully cured first.

Go to a home improvement store in your area and pick up a sulfuric-acid cleaner, it can also be called a grout haze remover. When applied, the strong acid will break up the haze and you can wash it away. Follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully. (This is a “gloves and safety glasses” job).

If this does not do the trick, you could also purchase a pumice stone (available in a home improvement store) and use plenty of water and a very light touch for mechanical/abrasive removal of the grout haze. (Follow instructions with the pumice stone carefully, too – you don’t want to scratch the ceramic or porcelain.)

Cleaning Dirty Grout

The only way we used to clean grout was to use bleach, which at best cleans mold and mildew. It lightens the grout stains, but the effect is only temporary. It is just a surface clean.

The best way to clean out grout that is already filled with dirt and gunk is to use a steam extraction method. This is steam cleaning with hot steam, detergents, water pressure and vacuum extraction. Steam extraction machines dislodge the dirt packed in the tiny grout holes and lifts them out once and for all