3 Best Ways to Clean Dirty Tile Grout
Remember when your new kitchen counters and tile floors sparkled in the sunlight? The smooth lines of grout outlined the shiny tile, and it all looked so clean! Well, time marches on, and new grout eventually becomes stained and discolored with all the wear-and-tear of daily living. It's not really that daunting to restore your ceramic tile grout to its original beauty, just time-consuming. Here are the three steps you can take to recapture the clean, new-looking grout you used to have.
Start with a Good Scrubbing
Surprisingly, a simple cleaning can often remove stains and return grout to a more uniform color. Your best tool for this is a fine plastic mesh scrubbing pad. Don't ever use steel wool, because that will scratch up your ceramic tile. The plastic is sturdy enough to scrub away a very thin layer of dirt and grime from the grout without doing damage to the tile, no matter how hard you scrub.
You'll want something with extra abrasiveness to work with the scrubbing pad, and baking soda is a great choice. Just make a thin paste of baking soda and water, then dip your damp scrubbing pad into it as you scour the grout. Go over each area a few times before you move on to the next. This isn't a quick job, so you might want to do a section at a time for a couple of weeks until you get it all clean.
Vinegar and Baking Soda Treatment
You may have heard about the incredible cleaning properties of baking soda and vinegar for just about everything in your home. These natural cleaners are useful and cheap, too. If you're not satisfied with the job after a baking soda scrub, step two involves adding vinegar. Make a big batch of thin baking soda and water paste and use a spoon to dribble it along the grout in one area of your counter or floor. Pat the baking soda into place and let it sit while you fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and warm water.
Spray the solution along the grout on top of the baking soda, covering one small section at a time. Wait a few minutes until it's actively fizzing, and then scrub with a grout brush (you can find these in your local home store). You can also spot clean stubborn stains with a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. When you're finished, there will be baking soda residue on the area you cleaned. Just use hot water and a rag or mop to wipe it off.
Use Cleaners if Needed
Chances are that the baking soda and vinegar treatment is all you'll need to freshen and restore your ceramic tile grout. If the stains are really stubborn, though, you might need to resort to bleach or cleaners. First, fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 solution of bleach and water and spray the grout one section at a time to compare the before and after look. If you're still not satisfied, there are cleaners made specifically for grout that you can leave on overnight to bleach stubborn stains and give your grout a uniform color.
Remove the Top Layer of Grout
This is the 'nuclear option', and you probably won't have to go to the trouble of implementing it. Grout that has had an unusually high volume of spills and traffic may need more than a deep cleaning. Or maybe the floor has deep stains from wine spills and/or creative artistry by toddlers with markers. At any rate, don't despair because you can still fix it without digging out all the grout and starting over.
The tool you need to remove a thin top layer of grout is called a grout saw, although it's really a scraper. You'll need to use it slowly and carefully because it will scratch ceramic tile. If you have high-traffic areas in your home, you might need to use this option in some places to bring all of the floor grout back to the original look.
If you end up scraping the top layer off some of your grout, you'll need to add a grout sealer to the surface when you're finished. This will create a barrier to stop the grout from absorbing stains and grime as quickly. Grout sealer is a good idea even if you haven't had to scrape any grout. Wiping or mopping frequently with vinegar and hot water will also help you keep your tile in the best condition possible. If you want to see a shiny, gleaming floor, use an oil soap rather than a wax or polish.
Low-Maintenance and Beautiful
Tile is one of the best options for countertops, backsplashes and floors. It's easy to maintain and durable, as well as visually pleasing. Try these tips for keeping your tile grout clean, and you can enjoy your ceramic tile for years to come.