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How to Clean Grout Effectively: Simple Grout Cleaner Formula

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Aug 31, 2020 • 2 min read

In a kitchen or bathroom, grout can be one of the most difficult surfaces to clean. Fortunately, with the right cleaning solution and proper approach, cleaning grout can be simple.

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How to Clean Grout in 4 Steps

If you want to clean tile floors the right way, you'll need the right kind of grout cleaner and a sturdy grout brush. Once you have those, follow this step-by-step method to upkeep the grout surfaces in your home.

  1. Pre-treat the grout. Use a rag or sponge mop to wipe down your dirty grout with hot water. (Don't use paper towels as they will break down and leave paper flakes on your surfaces.) Make sure the rag or mop is clean; if it’s not, you'll just be adding a new layer of dirt and grime to the grout.
  2. Spray a cleaning product on the grout. While clean water and a stiff brush are essential to good grout cleaning, the composition of your cleaning solution also matters. Acidic cleaners, such as white vinegar, can provide a non-toxic way of cleaning grout, but they may not be the best match for tough grout stains. Base cleaners, like chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach, kill bacteria but can produce dangerous fumes. Bleach tile cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can break down grout sealant over time, so use them sparingly. The best way to clean grout is with homemade grout cleaners, which have the cleaning power of commercial tile cleaners and tend to be less toxic.
  3. Start scrubbing. The scrubbing process is the real key to cleaning tile grout. Pick a scrub brush with medium to firm bristles. An old toothbrush can do the trick, or you can purchase a specialty grout scrubbing brush from a local hardware store. Do not scrub with metal wire brushes, as they can damage grout sealer. Scrub in a circular motion to remove mildew, bacteria, soap scum, and grime without damaging grout lines.
  4. Rinse the grout and tile flooring. Your job is not done until you rinse away the dirty water and cleaning solution. You can use either cold or warm water to rinse, but cover the scrubbing area thoroughly to ensure you end up with clean tile grout.

How to Make a DIY Grout Cleaner

To make your own grout cleaner, mix 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap, ½ cup baking soda, and ¼ cup hydrogen peroxide together in a squeeze bottle. Allow the mixture to stand for 7 to 10 minutes, then apply to wall tiles, floor tiles, and countertops wherever the grout is dirty. You will still need to pre-wash the area, scrub hard with a stiff brush, and thoroughly rinse.

This homemade grout cleaner is basic (meaning it has a high pH), and it is less toxic than commercial bleach-based tile floor cleaners and all-purpose cleaners. You can also make acidic natural cleaners using ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar, and essential oils, which can also make ceramic tiles and their grout look great.

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