How To Clean Grout:
A Guide To Effective Tile Grout Cleaning & Maintenance
There’s no question that high quality tiling is a desirable finish for a range of surfaces and rooms throughout the home. But without the right grouting, tiles would not look as good or offer the high levels of durability and performance that they are known for. And just like any other surface, grouting can become dirty and stained over time. But with the right know-how and a little bit of effort, it’s relatively easy to clean your grout and keep it looking its best.
In many ways, tiling grout is just as important as the tiles you pick. Once the tiles are correctly positioned, grout is then used to seal the gaps between the tiles and keep them in place. The most common type is cement based grout, and modern grouts are available with a range of additives to offer flexibility, enhanced water resistance, antimicrobial properties and fast drying times amongst other features.
Beyond its practical application, grout can also be ordered in a range of colours. You can opt for a subtle look that allows your tiles to stand out with whites or beiges, or add a designer touch with coloured grout. Black or grey grout looks particularly elegant paired with plain white tiles to create a grid effect.
Why Do I Need To Clean Tile Grout?
Nothing is worse than installing beautiful new floor tiles or spending time selecting gorgeous wall tiles only to have the design ruined by stained or dirty grouting. Grout needs to be cleaned regularly because it's a naturally porous material. As we generally tile areas used regularly like bathrooms and kitchens, the grout is then exposed to moisture and grime almost every day. It retains this dirt easily, causing discoloration to occur and even eventually mould to grow.
Grout can develop small holes over time where dirt can hide and build up in pockets. Cleaning grout properly is vital for maintaining the design of your tiles and to prevent the tiles and the surface beneath becoming damaged.
How Do I Keep Tile Grouting Looking Fresh?
Besides cleaning it, there are a few ways you can reduce your grout’s exposure to dirt and moisture. If you have installed bathroom tiles or tiles in a kitchen, you can use sealant over the exposed grouting. This can protect the colour and finish better than with just grouting alone. You will need to reseal every 2-3 years for maximum protection, but this is more cost-effective than having to completely renew your grout.
For floor tiles, invest in bath mats and welcome mats. When you step out of a bath or shower, a bath mat can absorb excess water, preventing it from reaching the tiles. Placing welcome mats at every entrance to your home will also absorb moisture, as well as giving people a place to clean their shoes. This keeps the area by your door clean and also reduces the amount of dirt and grime being tread across your tiles.
Regardless, you will still need a regular cleaning schedule to stop stains from setting in your grout or mould from developing.
How Often Should I Clean My Grout?
Cleaning might not be your favourite thing to do, but a quick daily clean will help prevent a build up of dirt from ruining your grout. Spraying and wiping bathroom tiles after a bath or shower will remove soap scum and bacteria. You can also purchase glass cleaners with a rubber blade that take excess water from the tiles with every swipe.
For kitchen tiles, you should spray and wipe after cooking, as there will likely be food stains and condensation on them. If your countertops are tiled, follow the same routine after preparing food or washing up.Floor tiles also need to be cleaned regularly. Hoovering can remove any solids like pet hairs or dropped food, giving you a smooth surface to mop over. This should help remove dirt from your tiles and grouting.
A weekly deep clean of your tiles will help remove persistent stains or reach more tricky areas.
The Best Way To Clean Grout
Regular cleaning is certainly recommended as a way to keep grout stains to a minimum and prevent a build up of dirt that could prove difficult to shift if left unaddressed. However as we all have busy lives, it might not be practical to clean grout as often as we’d like. Cleaning grout is actually fairly straightforward; whether you need to rejuvenate heavily stained grout or simply want to keep on top of things, a few basic household products and a bit of elbow grease can have your beautifully tiled bathroom or kitchen looking like new.
What Equipment Do I Need To Clean Grout?
To get the best results you will need a brush with stiff bristles. This will help reach trapped dirt in any small holes in your grouting. There are specifically designed grout brushes available that are made from nylon, but a firm toothbrush can be used too.
Scrubbing with the right kind of brush can make a marked improvement in your grouting, even when just used with water. Even if this does not remove the entire stain, it will take away the top layer of grime. This is the best way to prepare the surface ready for more powerful cleaning products.
If you have a steam cleaner, or are able to purchase one, this is a brilliant way of cleaning grout as it is powerful and non-corrosive. Regular use will help lift dirt from small pockets. It is also the most environmentally friendly way to clean as you do not need to use chemicals.
Which Cleaning Products Work Best On Grout?
You might naturally go to bleach or vinegar when it comes to cleaning. However, both are corrosive, so while they might whiten stains, they can also do more damage than good on grout. As a general rule, you want to start cleaning with the mildest product you have.
There are some fantastic specialist grout cleaning products available that are designed specifically to remove dirt from grout without damaging the surface. It’s also recommended to use a suitable product in areas such as showers or bathrooms to help prevent mould and mildew from taking hold, or to remove black spots when they occur.
If you prefer to take the DIY route, you can mix your own solution with ingredients you likely have in the house already. First, try one part water with two parts baking soda or bicarbonate of soda mixed together into a paste. Spread this on your grout and leave on the surface for at least 10 minutes. This gives it time to sink into any dirt and makes it easier to remove. Then scrub with your brush until you are satisfied, rinse or mop down with water and towel dry.
If your stain is being a bit more stubborn, try a solution of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. This is a great mix as baking soda is only mildly abrasive and causes less damage than caustic materials and hydrogen peroxide is a natural alternative to bleach that will still brighten the grout. Leave for 20 minutes for more effective whitening.