We asked cleaning and tile professionals how to clean grout and then we put their top tips to the test to find out which was the best and easiest method to get the job done.
Most people know how to clean a bathroom and get the kitchen clean quickly and easily on a day-to-day basis, but it's jobs that are done less frequently, like cleaning the grout between the tiles, that tend to leave people looking for professional help.
Grout fills in the voids left between tiles. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it prevents moisture and contaminant build-up while supporting the tiles, keeping them in place. It should be cleaned often to keep it in good condition.
Having dirty grout not only looks bad, but it can also be a potential health hazard too - harbouring bacteria and allowing mould to grow. The longer you leave grout between cleans the harder it will be to get it back to that fresh, white or new colour and so knowing how to clean grout quickly and easily is essential for keeping it in the best condition possible.
What is the best thing to use to clean grout?
It's important to bear in mind before you start cleaning your grout that some products are too harsh for grout and the tile it surrounds, and they can cause it to crumble over time.
There are a lot of ways to clean grout using basic household products, like baking soda and white vinegar, and it's best to start with the mildest of cleaning products and then work up to stronger ones.
"It is important to make sure that you are cleaning your surfaces with the right kinds of products," a spokesperson from CTD Tiles reiterated to woman&home.
"You should avoid using harsh cleaners such as dedicated kitchen cleaning sprays as they can be detrimental to the appearance of your tiles, causing the grout to crumble from the joints and making it harder to clean the grout down the line as well."
We tested all of the products to clean grout suggested by tile and cleaning experts and we found that a simple combination of baking soda and white vinegar worked best to clean grout, followed by a non-toxic surface cleaner to wash away the residue and leave the tiles sparkling.
Whatever method you use to clean grout you will need a good stiff brush — there are plenty of specific grout brushes you can buy online, but you can use any brush as long as it has some stiff bristles. Scrubbing with a toothbrush or grout brush can help you get out some of the most stubborn stains.
How to clean grout according to professionals
Before you start cleaning your grout, remember to completely rinse off any prior attempts at cleaning. Accidentally combining cleaning products could result in the creation of toxic gas.
When we tested the professional's recommended ways to clean grout, we found the most effective method was to use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar mixed together and then a small grout brush to scrub the natural mixture into the grout to get the dirt out.
The chemical reaction from the vinegar and baking soda does most of the work for you, but don't be afraid to put a little muscle into your cleaning efforts for sparkling results!
When you're satisfied the grout is clean, be sure to wipe the surfaces over with a clean damp cloth to remove all traces of the vinegar solution. We actually finished our clean by wiping some Method multi-surface concentrated cleaner, neat, over our tiles and grout. This not only ensured that the grout and tiles were well cleaned but it also left the bathroom smelling great afterwards, eliminating the sour smell left by the vinegar. So we'd really recommend getting a non-toxic surface cleaner for when you've finished cleaning your grout (we like the refreshing Lotus Flower and Sage fragrance from Method best).
How to clean grout in 4 simple steps:
- First, spray warm water along the grout lines. Then - just like brushing your teeth - use your brush to scrub the grout in a circular motion. This will dislodge any lingering, top-level dirt or mould.
- Next add equal parts of white vinegar and baking soda to a small tub or bowl. When first mixed this will create a fizzing foam. Give it a few minutes and once it is done foaming, use your brush to scrub the mixture onto the tiles.
- When you've finished scrubbing and are satisified with the level of cleanliness achieved, rinse the grout and tiles with plain water.
- To finish, use a non-toxic surface cleaner and either spray or wipe the product over your tiles and grout and then rinse. This should help get rid of any leftover baking soda or vinegar and also leaving your room smelling nice, washing away any smell left from the vinegar.
What to do if it still isn't clean
If you've left your grout uncleaned for some time, or the grout itself is very old, getting it clean and back to its fresh, white origins might take a little bit more work.
If the combination of baking soda, white vinegar and a non-toxic surface cleaner don't do the trick, then CTD tiles recommend investing in a dedicated grout cleaner like lithofin grout clean:
"Using a dedicated grout cleaner such as lithofin grout clean will be a life changer, as it is specifically designed to remove stains, without harming the compound of the grout."
If a dedicated grout cleaner doesn't work, as a last resort you could try an oxygen bleach product. There are many brands of oxygen bleach, the best-known is probably OxiClean. Follow the directions on the box and make sure the area you are using it in is well vented to reduce the fumes. Rinse the product off your tiles thoroughly after using it and wipe down walls or surfaces using a gentle sponge or dishcloth.
Can you remove mould from grout?
You can remove mould from grout and some of the methods above for how to clean grout should also help remove mould. Generally, the stronger the cleaning method, the more likely you are to eliminate mold.
Another way to help eliminate mould is to use salt. Wet down the affected grout area and sprinkle salt onto it. With your brush, scrub the grout lines. Let the salt sit there overnight. In the morning rinse the area with fresh water and wipe down.
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An internationally published digital journalist and editor, Rachael has worked as a writer and editor for both news and lifestyle websites in the UK and abroad including Metro UK, Homes & Gardens, Ideal Home, GoodTo.com, honey.nine.com.au and body+soul.
Rachael's published work covers a broad spectrum of topics and she has written about everything from the future of sustainable travel, to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the world we live in, to the psychology of colour.