tooth brush cleaning tile

Cleaning Grout Lines: Everything You Need to Know

The grout lines in your ceramic tile shower have traded their clean appearance for a dingy gray look, and you just know that your mother will cringe the next time she visits. If the grunge look is not your style – and if you want to avoid that “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” lecture – you need to discover how to clean grout lines without damaging them.  

Grout is porous and soaks up dirt and grime like a sponge, so it doesn’t take long for grout lines to discolor, especially if the sealant has worn off. Grout’s porous nature also means that caustic cleaning solutions like toilet bowl cleaners and vinegar may corrode the grout, damaging your surface.

Learn how to safely restore your grout to its original color without damaging the grout, sealant or tile.

Whether you’re cleaning grout lines in a shower or across an entire tile kitchen floor, you can restore those grout lines to a nearly new appearance by using a small scrub brush (nothing too stiff) or toothbrush, bleach and, of course, a little bit of elbow grease.

How to Clean Grout Lines in the Tub or Other Small Surface Areas

To clean small areas – showers or kitchen backsplashes, for example – use a bleach solution. Oxygen bleach is recommended, but if the grout lines are really grimy, you can use chlorine bleach. Dilute with water – 1 part bleach to 3 or 4 parts water should create an effective solution, but you may need a stronger mixture for really stubborn stains.

For normal tub grout cleaning:

Mix the bleach and water in a clean spray bottle. Spray solution on the grout lines and let sit for about 20 minutes before scrubbing with a toothbrush or other small scrub brush. If you need a little more power, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on the grout lines before scrubbing. Be sure to rinse well with clear water afterwards.

For more intense tub grout cleaning:

Another option, for more seriously dingy grout, is to mix about ½ to 1 cup baking soda, 1 to 2 teaspoons of liquid dish detergent and a splash of hydrogen peroxide in a small bowl to form a paste. Wet the surface to be cleaned with clear water. Use a toothbrush to apply the paste to the grout lines, scrubbing gently as you go. Let the mixture sit for about 5 to 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with clear water and wipe with a cloth or sponge.

Cleaning Grout Lines in Floors

Oxygen bleach is a good choice for floors, but you can also use chlorine bleach. Mix bleach and warm water in a bucket, using the 1 part bleach to 3 or 4 parts warm water ratio, or follow manufacturer’s recommendations. Use a mop to apply the solution to the floor and let sit for about 20 minutes. Be sure that the solution covers the grout lines. (If grout lines are cracked or damaged, do not saturate with mop. Instead, avoid over-wetting by using a cloth or towel to apply solution in these areas.)

Using a small scrub brush, gently scrub grout lines, beginning in one corner of the room and working your way across the entire floor surface. If you’d rather not get down on your hands and knees, use a clean, nylon bristle broom to scrub the grout lines. Once you’ve finished scrubbing, mop the floor with fresh, clear water.

Protect the Grout

Now that you’ve learned how to clean grout lines safely and effectively, discover how to keep them clean. If water seems to soak right into your grout, it’s probably time to reseal it. Grout sealant repels water, germs and stains, keeping your grout lines fresh and clean. There are a number of commercial grout sealers on the market. Check with your local hardware or home improvement store for options. Be sure to choose one that’s compatible with your tile, and follow manufacturer’s application instructions.

Badly damaged grout or tile should be replaced. Ignoring the issue may eventually lead to far more serious damage of underlying surfaces. If your grout or tile is cracked or chipped – or if you’re envisioning a fresh contemporary look for an outdated bathroom, kitchen or mudroom – Mr. Handyman’s home repair experts are just a phone call away. Call (877) 685-1377 or request a quote online!

Once you’ve gotten your grout lines back to their original shade, keep them that way with Molly Maid! Like Mr. Handyman, Molly Maid is part of Neighborly’s community of home service experts. You can count on them for quality house cleaning services, whether you need ongoing service or a one-time clean for a special occasion.