Mildew and mold can build up in your tile grout, making it look dirty. To get your grout looking brand new again, follow the cleaning instructions below. Make sure to begin with the least acidic solution and work your way up to avoid damaging your grout with harsh chemicals.
What You’ll Need
- Steam cleaner (optional)
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
- Small stiff brush (ex: new toothbrush)
- Generic household cleaner
- Borax (optional)
- Lemon juice (optional)
- Commercial grout cleaner (optional)
- Rubber gloves
- Bleach (optional)
- Bleach pen
- Commercial grout sealer
The Cleaning Process
- Clean the grout first with water and let dry. This will loosen any existing debris and make your cleaning job easier.
- If you have a steam cleaner, use it on your grout before you start cleaning to loosen dirt and debris.
- Start with the least acidic solution. Try vinegar diluted in an equal amount of water or a paste of baking soda and water. Apply the solution with a kitchen spatula and let dry for up to an hour. Use a small stiff brush to scrub the grout in circles. This will remove more dirt and grime than scrubbing up and down.
- If you use a toothbrush for scrubbing, it is preferable to use a new one since the bristles will be firmer.
- Do not use a brush with metal bristles—this will wear out the grout over time.
- You can also use a generic household cleaner diluted in an equal amount of water instead of vinegar or a mixture of borax and lemon juice.
- If you need more cleaning more, use a commercial grout and tile cleaner. Try to get a brand
that is pH-balanced (this will prevent erosion of the grout over time). Follow the directions on the
bottle and always let the solution sit for a few minutes before scrubbing.
- Always test a small area of the grout first to make sure that the cleaner will not cause erosion or damage to your particular kind of grout.
- Ammonia-based cleaners work well for tough mildew, but always remember to wear rubber gloves!
- For heavy duty grime, use some sort of bleach (such as oxygen bleach powder, hydrogen
peroxide, or chlorine bleach). Always dilute well before using and Good Housekeeping’s Household Manual suggests using a sponge to apply the solution to the grout to avoid spattering (and discoloration) on your clothes. WARNING: Never use bleach on colored grout as this will cause discoloration! A really simple and safe tool for cleaning mildew from grout is a bleach pen!
- Always keep the area you are working in well-ventilated when you are working with bleach or other commercial products.
- WARNING: Do not ever mix cleaners or use them one after the other (particularly bleach and ammonia. This can cause noxious fumes and burns on the skin!
- In their book, Haley’s Cleaning Tips, Graham and Rosemary Haley suggest using oven cleaner. Spray onto small sections and wipe off within 3 seconds. Rinse with water immediately. Make sure to wear rubber gloves and keep the area well-ventilated!
- Rinse completely with water and dry. Soak up any remaining moisture with a paper towel or
sponge. This will prevent the mildew that you just removed from coming back!
- Keep your grout clean by applying 1-2 coats of a commercial grout sealer. Make sure to purchase the correct product for your specific type of grout. Reapply once a year.