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clean kitchen backsplash grout

How To Clean Tile Grout

by | May 6, 2024 | Cleaning Tips

All right – you’ve swept or vacuumed the floor. You’re done mopping and scrubbing the tiles, and getting everything dry… but your floor still looks dirty.

Why?!

Here’s the thing: dirty grout lines affect the appearance of a clean tile floor. If the spaces between the tiles are grubby or stained, the floor doesn’t look fully clean.

Before you break out the rubber gloves and scrub brush, though, make sure you’re fully prepped on how to clean tile grout.

First, you’ll need to know the type of tile and grout material you have, so you can use the appropriate cleaning solutions. Then you’ll need to know if this is a simple cleaning job or if you need to do some stain removal.

Common cleaning solutions to clean grout include:

With the right cleaning tools and some good old-fashioned elbow grease, get ready to make your floors look grout-standing!

How Often to Clean Grout | Before You Clean Grout | How to Clean Tile Floor Grout | How to Clean Grout on Walls | Cleaning Coloured Grout | Cleaning Outdoor Grout | Cleaning Unsealed Grout | Cleaning Stained Grout | FAQs

 

What is Grout?

Grout is a porous material that’s used to fill in the lines (called joints) between tiles. It helps reinforce the tile installation and keeps your floor stable.

Typical household grout is a mixture of cement, aggregates (e.g. sand), and water.

 

Types of Tiles and Tile Grout Material

clean shower grout with two different types of tile

Cleaning grout isn’t rocket science, but it does involve some chemistry!

Your method for cleaning tile grout will depend on the type of tile and the type of grout you have in your home.

 

Types of tile materials

When it comes to houses and apartments, you’ll typically find one of these types of tiles:

  • Ceramic or porcelain: These are the most common tiles found in homes! You’ll often find ceramic or porcelain tiling in your kitchen and bathroom.
  • Natural stone: There are several types of stone, including limestone, slate, and marble. Use specialised cleaning solutions that are pH neutral so the material won’t discolour.
  • Vinyl: Both vinyl and linoleum tiles are easy to maintain as their design requires no actual grout! However, they have a more artificial appearance and finish.

 

Types of grout material

For residential tiles, builders will usually use cement-based grout. It’s more affordable and cost-effective, but requires regular re-sealing and is prone to staining.

Standard types of grout are:

  • Sanded: Cement-based with sand for binding joints up to 2.5cm
  • Unsanded: Cement-based but without sand, commonly used for small or delicate tiles
  • Acrylic: Pre-mixed grout with acrylic polymer that’s pricey but very durable
  • Epoxy: Very expensive and requires mixing, but extremely durable and water-impervious

Some grout comes pre-mixed with polymers for additional moisture and mildew resistance.

For cement-based grouts, you’ll need to get the lines “sealed” after installation to protect the grout from damage and stains. It’s also important to remove grout haze from the tiles.

 

How Often to Clean Grout

Tackle any stains or spills immediately.

Vacuum or sweep your floors at least once a day (more often if you have pets).

Clean tile floors and grout once a week (and dry the surface thoroughly!). Using high-quality tile cleaners can reduce the dirt that gets into grout and make cleaning easier.

Deep clean grout lines around once a month.

Re-seal grout every 6 months.

Need help staying on top of cleaning grout, floors, and other parts of your home? Get in touch with a reliable house cleaning service in your area and they’ll do the job for you.

 

Before You Clean Grout: What to Know

Maria cleaning shower floor tile grout

Not every cleaning solution applies to each tile material. 

Before you start cleaning grout, here are some things to know.

 

Ceramic or porcelain tile grout

Ceramic or porcelain tiles are very common in houses and apartments. They’re affordable but durable and easy to maintain – both the tiles and grout.

For regular cleaning, you’ll typically only need mild detergent and warm water. Make sure to rinse and dry the tile surface thoroughly to avoid spotting or water seeping into the grout.

Another top cleaning solution for ceramic tile floors is vinegar and water. It’ll work on the grout too!

 

Natural stone tile grout

When cleaning grout between natural stone tiles, avoid using acidic solutions with vinegar or lemon since they can ruin the finish. The same goes for products with too-high pH like bleach.

For cleaning supplies, opt for non-abrasive mops and cloths to avoid scratches.

 

How to Clean Tile Floor Grout

Before you do any grout cleaning, make sure you sweep or vacuum the floor tiles.

This removes any loose dirt and debris that could scratch or enter the surface.

 

Cleaning grout with baking soda

Close-up of Spoon of baking soda over bowl of baking soda

If you want to clean with natural ingredients, baking soda is your best bet! It’s a great homemade grout cleaner, and even works on mild staining.

Start by making a paste of equal parts baking soda and warm water.

Use an old toothbrush or sponge to apply the solution onto the grout lines, and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then use the toothbrush or grout brush to gently scrub the surface in a circular motion.

For more cleaning power, you can mix a half-and-half solution of vinegar and water. Spray it onto the baking soda after you’ve let it sit. Wait until the mixture stops foaming, then scrub with a grout brush.

Rinse the floor with a wet microfibre cloth or mop to remove any residue from the baking soda paste. Use another mop to dry the floor.

NOTE: If you’re adding vinegar, wear a face mask to protect yourself from vapours caused by the chemical reaction!

 

Cleaning grout with vinegar

There are several homemade grout cleaners you can try, but vinegar is particularly effective. It also helps prevent mould and mildew.

This solution is best used on ceramic or porcelain tiles, since acidic vinegar will damage stone. It’s also very effective for cleaning bathroom grout.

Mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle. You can add a teaspoon or two of dish soap for added cleaning power.

Spray the vinegar solution onto the grout lines and let it sit for 5–10 minutes. Then use a stiff brush to scrub the grout clean.

Wipe off any residue with a damp cloth, then follow with a fresh mop to dry the floor.

 

Using grout cleaner

There are plenty of commercial grout cleaners that you can use on your floors. Some are bleach-based, while others are specially formulated for stone surfaces.

Our picks for the best grout cleaners are ZEP Grout Cleaner or the more eco-friendly Zero Co Multi-Purpose Cleaner.

Follow the packaging instructions, and always check the ingredients to ensure they’re safe to use on your floor grout.

If you have pets, opt for pet-friendly products or keep them out of the room until the floors are dry!

 

Cleaning grout with bleach

Kirsten scrubbing tile grout in the shower

Bleach is a powerful cleaner, as it can tackle even stubborn stains or deep-seated mould. However, it’s very harsh, so always use protective gear (such as rubber gloves and a face mask).

Make sure the room is well-ventilated when cleaning with bleach. Never mix bleach with anything but water.

Dilute the product according to the packaging instructions – or around one cup of bleach per 5 litres of lukewarm water. If possible, opt for oxygen bleach since it’s less reactive than chlorine.

Use a sponge or microfibre cloth to apply the bleach solution to the grout. Let the mixture sit for 10–15 minutes, then use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the tile grout clean.

Rinse the floor thoroughly with a wet mop, then follow with a fresh one to remove excess moisture. Let the floor air dry.

 

Steam cleaning floor tile grout

Yes, you can steam clean grout! Steam mops or cleaners are very effective and can clean large areas more efficiently.

Start by washing the floor with mild detergent and water to remove any excess grime and dirt that could block the steam.

Switch on the steam cleaner or mop, then run it carefully over the grout lines. If your machine comes with a grout or nylon brush tool, you can use them – although it requires a bit more effort.

Work in small sections and mop up the dirty water before it seeps back into the grout.

You can go over the entire floor with a dry mop afterwards to remove excess moisture, or let the surface air dry.

 

How to Clean Tile Grout on Walls

Cleaning grout on walls is a bit trickier, especially in humid areas like the shower.

When working on walls, go from top to bottom to prevent the dirty water from reaching areas you’ve already cleaned.

 

How to clean grout on shower walls

Showers are constantly exposed to moisture, so grout cleaning can be tricky. The best way to clean shower grout is by using a baking soda and hydrogen peroxide solution.

Mix two parts baking soda with one part hydrogen peroxide to make a thick paste. Use an old toothbrush to apply the mixture to the dirty grout.

Let the cleaning solution sit for 15–20 minutes. Then use the toothbrush or a stiff brush to scrub the grout, wiping away dirty water as you go.

Rinse the walls with clean water, then use a squeegee to remove excess moisture.

NOTE: You can also use a steam cleaner – just check if your machine is safe for use on bathroom tiles!

 

How to clean grout on kitchen walls

Maria cleaning kitchen tile grout

Kitchen walls – especially the backsplash – are often exposed to grease and food debris. That can get into kitchen tile grout.

Your first line of defence is water and anti-grease dish detergent. If you can wash the grease off right away, this will do the trick.

Alternatively, try diluting washing soda with water according to the package label. Apply the cleaning solution with a sponge, then scrub with a grout brush. Wipe off the residue and rinse with a damp cloth.

For grease and dirt build-up, mix a half-and-half solution of water and vinegar or lemon juice in a spray bottle. Apply the solution to the greasy grout and leave for 10 minutes.

Scrub the lines with a stiff brush, then rinse with a damp cloth. Dry afterwards.

 

Cleaning Coloured Grout Lines

It’s a little trickier to clean black grout, grey grout, or any other colours. You’ll need to follow a regular cleaning schedule and keep a sharp eye out, since stains might not show up as easily.

Meanwhile, things like vinegar, lemon juice, and bleach can discolour the material and ruin its appearance.

Your best option is to look for grout cleaners formulated for coloured grout, such as Grout-EEZ Super Heavy-Duty Tile & Grout Cleaner or Black Diamond Ultimate Grout Cleaner.

Alternatively, steam cleaners are safe for coloured grout!

 

How to Clean Outdoor Tile Grout

Start by sweeping away any leaves, twigs, and other debris. Then hose down the tiling to rinse off loose dirt.

Use the appropriate grout cleaner for the material of your outdoor tiles. 

You may need to use a scrub brush to remove organic matter like mud.

 

How to Clean Unsealed Grout

If you’ve just applied new grout, you should clean it before applying any sealant. This ensures there’s no dirt or grime trapped in the material after installation.

Always make sure the grout has fully “cured” (meaning dried) or you could damage the finish.

Start by sweeping away any loose dirt, debris, and grout residue. For walls, wipe the dust and haze away with a dry microfibre cloth.

There are several ways to clean unsealed grout, but the simplest is by using baking soda.

Mix a paste of baking soda and warm water, then use an old toothbrush or sponge to apply the solution.

Gently scrub the new grout until it’s clean. Rinse with clean water, then mop the floor dry.

Once the surfaces have fully dried, you can apply grout sealer. This makes the material more resistant to dirt and moisture.

 

How to Clean Stained Grout

Grout stains can happen for many reasons – maybe someone spilled something in the kitchen, or perhaps pink mould has grown in your shower.

For spills, remove any solids and blot the liquid with paper towels or microfibre cloths immediately.

 

How to clean stained white grout

The best way to remove stains on white grout is by using the abovementioned hydrogen peroxide paste! The mild acid helps lift stains and lighten the surface.

Use an old toothbrush to apply the mixture to the dirty grout, then let it sit for 15–20 minutes. Then take that toothbrush or a grout brush and start scrubbing the surface.

Rinse the area with plain water, then wipe or mop it dry. For more stubborn stains, you may need to reapply the paste more than once.

NOTE: For deep-seated or extremely tough stains, you can apply hydrogen peroxide directly. Test it first on an inconspicuous area to ensure it doesn’t cause damage.

 

How to remove stains on stone tile grout

Diluted hydrogen peroxide can remove stains from stone tile grout. Mix it in a 1:2 ratio with water, then lightly spray the stained grout.

Let it sit for at most 20 minutes, then scrub the stain with a sponge or cloth. Rinse thoroughly with clean water then dry.

Alternatively, use a cleaner specially formulated for stone, like Granite Gold Grout Cleaner Spray.

 

How to remove mould from grout

scrubber brush on shower grout

Mould in grout can look orange, which comes from mildew, or black, which is much more hazardous.

For mild cases, you can clean mould in grout using household products like vinegar or lemon juice.

Mix equal parts vinegar and hot water, plus a few drops of detergent. Saturate the mouldy area and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, then scrub the surface with a stiff brush.

For severe cases, such as black mould in grout, try borax. Mix a cup of borax per 3 litres of water, then apply to the mouldy area.

Let the solution sit for a few minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush. Wipe off any dislodged mould immediately, then rinse the whole area with water.

In the worst cases, you can use diluted oxygen bleach.

 

How to clean hard water stains in grout

If you have orange stains on grout, that’s likely caused by limescale or mineral build-up from hard water. It can be unsightly, but easy to clean.

Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle, plus a few drops of dish detergent. Saturate the grout lines and let the solution sit for 10 minutes.

Use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the stains off. Rinse the surface clean, then let dry.

 

What Causes Dirty Grout Lines?

Hollie using a scrub brush to clean shower tile grout

Knowing what causes the dirt or staining on grout can help you clean more efficiently and effectively.

 

In the kitchen

Kitchen tile grout often gets dirty due to grease or spilled food. 

It’s essential to clean spills or stains ASAP, as food residue can invite bacteria or mould growth.

 

In the bathroom

The humidity and moisture in a bathroom can lead to mould or mildew on the tile grout.

Other causes of dirty grout in bathrooms include soap scum, limescale, and mineral build-up from hard water.

 

Outdoors

Besides regular foot traffic, weather and environmental factors can lead to dirty grout. Wind, rain, soil, and even sunlight can muddy or discolour the material over time.

Pets can also track dirt on your outdoor grout.

 

FAQs About How to Clean Tile Grout

cleaning tile grout

If you have more questions about how to clean tile grout, here’s some additional info!

 

How can I get my grout white again?

The most effective ways to restore white grout are either hydrogen peroxide paste or bleach.

However, always be careful when cleaning with these products. Use protective gear and work in a well-ventilated room.

For a less harsh option, you can use diluted washing soda.

 

Does vinegar really clean grout?

Yes, although it won’t work for stone floor tiles. Vinegar is best for sealed grout on glazed porcelain or ceramic tiles.

Since acetic acid (the main compound in vinegar) is antibacterial and antifungal, it helps prevent mould or mildew in grout lines as well.

 

Does a Magic Eraser work on grout?

Yes, but it’s best for spot-cleaning tile grout. 

To clean a large area of floor tiles, for example, you’d need a large number of Magic Erasers – and that’s neither cost-effective nor efficient.

 

Can I clean tile grout without scrubbing?

Yes – only if it’s mild to moderately dirty. You can clean grout without scrubbing by mixing half a cup of baking soda with a quarter-cup of hydrogen peroxide and a teaspoon of dish detergent.

Apply the mixture to the grout and let it sit for up to 20 minutes. Wipe the residue off, then rinse the surface with water and a mop or cloth.

Let the grout completely dry. Do not store excess cleaner, as the build-up of carbon dioxide will cause the container to break and release hazardous gas.

 

Can you use Napisan for cleaning grout?

Anecdotally, it has worked for people. The most common method is mixing 2 scoops of Vanish Napisan Stain Remover Powder into a bucket (about 10 litres) of water, then using that to clean both tiles and grout.

However, test this cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area first to make sure it won’t cause damage.

About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.

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About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.

Share