Keep Your Grout Clean! Home Remedies, Pro Products, & Grout Line Cleaning Tips!

Keey your grout clean

Follow these tips for cleaner grout!

Grout stains can be difficult to remove. Grout by its own nature is very porous because of the sand in the mix. New grout should be sealed.

There are a number of sealants on the market so do some research before you buy. Be careful with high gloss finishes [Marble, Granite] as they can be sensitive to certain chemicals. Most sealants require re-applications and ultimately you will need to decide what is best for your needs.

There are quite a few home-remedies we run across over the years for removing grout stains. While many claim that their home-remedy is the best remedy, we figured that it would be nice to share some of the more reliable remedies we have run across.

One general rule-of-thumb that you’ll always want to employ is the “try before you buy”. Apply this rule with each one of the following remedies with either a spare tile, or on a tile that’s not easily visible to traffic, although it takes up extra time to try things out. You’ll always save yourself a possible headache later.

It’s also a good idea that anytime you clean your grout lines with any remedy, home or store-bought, you should reseal the grout with a sealer. Some store-bought remedies claim they have sealers built-in (brings to mind grout colorants), some of these claims provide less than stellar results. Fortunately articles like this one combined with product reviews we find all over the Internet today help us all avoid the mistakes that others may have made.

Products To Help Clean Your Grout

  1. Black & Decker Scumbuster
    This tool comes with a rechargeable battery and several attachments. It cleans into grooves and crevices with very little effort.
  2. Baking Soda
    First dampen the area with a sponge and then sprinkle baking soda over the grout. Let it set in for a few minutes and then use nylon brush to scrub away at it. If you love this solution you may want to keep your baking soda in a spice shaker to make the sprinkling of the baking soda simple. Just make sure you properly identify the spice shaker as you might not find it too tasty sprinkled on your spaghetti dinner.
  3. Oxygen Bleach Time
    For all colors of tile and grout. Powdered Oxygen Bleach has one distinct advantage over Chlorine Bleach – it doesn’t mess with colors. The disadvantage is that it takes time for the oxygen to react. The longer you let the oxygen ions work at the stain the less work you’ll need to do scrubbing.Mix any high-quality oxygen bleach powder with warm water and stir it until it dissolves. Then pour the solution onto the floor so the grout lines are flooded. Let the solution sit for 30 mins and then scrub lightly and pour some more solution onto the grout. The oxygen ions will work diligently on your stubborn stains for up to 6 hours and it does a nice job of removing red wine stains, beet juice, and some of the most stubborn stains your grout will ever encounter.

    DID YOU KNOW?
    Mold and Mildew require 2 things to survive: Moisture and a LACK of Air)! Now that you know why you always find mold growing inside of the fridge and not outside it. If your bathroom isn’t well ventilated, think of your bathroom as the innards of a fridge. Ewww!

  4. Hydrogen Peroxide
    Hydrogen Peroxide has a tendency to discolor things (especially fabrics), but it does a wonderful job of disinfecting. Dilute and spray it on; let it sit for 15 min.; then wipe clean.
    Warning: Do not use with Bleach.
  5. White Vinegar
    Dilute with 2 parts vinegar, 1 part water. Spray it on; let stand for 15 min, wipe clean with a very damp sponge using a baking soda/water solution to neutralize the acidity of vinegar, then wipe clean water using a damp sponge.

General Grout Cleaning Tips:

  1. First clean the grout with water to remove loose surface debris and allow to dry
  2. Don’t use bleach on colored grout, bleach will discolor the grout.
  3. Don’t clean granite or natural stone with household cleaners.
  4. When cleaning with acids such as vinegar, be aware that grout often contains cement which is alkaline. There are also plenty of natural stone tiles that have alkaline properties such as marble and travertine. Cleaning with acids can and will etch away the surface.If you’re determined to clean with acids, always test an out-of-the-way spot, rinse thoroughly, and use baking soda to neutralize the acid.
  5. Use a stiff nylon brush for cleaning, metal bristles will scratch the grout and the tile and make your efforts look dreadful. Toothbrushes are OK but the bristles are generally too soft.
  6. Use protective gloves, and safety glasses with working with any chemical-based grout cleaner. Even if you don’t think you need it, your spouse will generally find you more attractive when you’re in uniform.
  7. Test on a small area not easily visible to traffic. Don’ skip this test because it takes extra time, you might just find that your old grout doesn’t like chemical cleaners (especially true on old and damaged grout). Also take note that while cleaning your grout you’re bound to get the cleaning solution on the tile as well. Slate, marble travertine and limestone are generally sensitive to acids.
  8. Don’t mix cleaners together. Bleach and Ammonia create the same type of Chlorine Gas that was used as a chemical weapon in WW2! If you mix Bleach and Hydrogen Peroxide, you end up with saltwater with oxygen bubbles (saltwater soda anyone?) which isn’t a very effective cleaner if you ask me.
  9. When you’re done cleaning, keep it cleaner, longer, by applying a couple coats of grout sealer. Grout sealer will break down after repeated cleanings, and using high pH or low pH cleaners such as bleach (alkaline) or vinegar (acid) will only hasten this process. So at the very least, a fresh coat of grout sealer should be applied every year.
  10. If you end up removing grout, make sure you’re wearing a dust mask, any material manufactured before the mid 1980′s should be assumed to contain asbestos unless you can verify otherwise.*Even though I can’t think of any grout that ever contained asbestos, I can think of plenty of tiles, linoleum flooring, and many other materials that loved to take advantage of the heat, electrical, and chemical resistance this crystalline mineral possessed.Scientists and manufacturers knew plenty about its positive qualities, but it wasn’t until the 1980′s that science confirmed it’s cancer-causing toxic quality and banned its use.
  11. And while you’re at it don’t forget that if you’re on your hands and knees, it’s never a bad idea to kneel on something soft or wear some kneepads.
I have problems with
grout haze leftover
from my handy work!

How To Fix Grout Haze

Grout Haze is a bit tougher to deal with unless you’ve just installed your tile and are in the tile cleanup phase. Let’s assume that this haze has been around for awhile and you’re finally getting around to cleaning it up.

  1. First, determine if your problem is actually Grout Haze or Efflorescence. Efflorescence is the rising of the salts in grout to the surface and typically happens in new tile installations when too much water is used to cleanup the grout. If your tile installation is less than 10 days old, try using water or (water and vinegar) and then apply some elbow grease.
  2. If it’s been longer than 30 days since the new tile installation, you can treat this problem with a mild acid solution (Phosphoric Acid Restroom cleaner), plenty of scrub pads, protective gloves, and plenty of elbow grease. Make sure to neutralize the acidic wash with a baking soda and water rinse.
  3. When using a mild acid solution it’s usually a good idea to test an area first to see if there is any adverse reaction.To test your tile, follow the directions of the grout haze remover on a spare extra tile or a tile that’s not easily visible to traffic.After you have applied the solution and allowed it to dry, check for any damage such as pitting.If you apply the acid solution and things start fizzing the acid concentration is too strong and you’ll need to control the reaction by diluting the solution with more water.Some slate tiles are known to be acid sensitive and it’s always a good idea to take your time to test before starting a project rather than forcing things for the sake of speed and ending up regretting yourself later.Remember that the grout haze most likely is a result from impatience in the first place and that fixing the problem with more impatience is likely going to result in some nice video footage for America’s Funniest Home Videos.

When all else fails, you can always re-grout!

clean your grout with grout grabber

Grout Grabber, The Easiest Way To Remove Old Grout

When you try out the above solutions patiently, you’re very likely going to be successful in cleaning up your grout problem. But “Murphy’s Law” will dictate that it will be at this very moment, you or your spouse will decide to change the color or style of your grout. The problem is that grouting over grout is never a good idea. That’s because it won’t adhere for very long and you’ll end up with something looking even more horrible than what you started with.

You can try changing the color of the grout with grout colorants but the results can vary. But then again, you can test a spot and see if you like it, you can even try out several different colorant samples you obtained from the tile store.

But honestly, the best method is likely going to be “out with the and in with the new”. The ‘in with the new’ is relatively easy, but the ‘out with the old’, is going to be more work since you’ll need to remove all of the old grout.

Thankfully there are plenty of tools you can choose that will get the job done. There are hand grout saws, and a Rotozip grout removal drill bit accessory that will all get the job done.

But the best tool for the job happens to be the tool that was invented right here at Midwest Trade Tool, its called the Grout Grabber The Grout Grabber is an accessory for your reciprocating saw; it removes grout quickly and with very little elbow grease. It removes grout much faster than either the Rotozip or Mulitmaster accessories, and the Grout Grabber produces virtually no dust!

Well, there you have it. Everything you need to know about cleaning your grout and then some. We’re always looking for feedback, especially when it comes to our articles. If you know of a tidbit of information that’s been left out and feel would be helpful, we’d like to hear from you. Feel free to email us at feedback@tiletools.com