Grout, the stuff found in between tiles that holds them in place, is often lighter than the tiles surrounding it. As a result, dirt on grout is very noticeable and can make an otherwise clean floor look filthy. Additionally, grout is often used in bathrooms, where mold and mildew can accumulate due to moisture. Cleaning grout is relatively simple and can be accomplished by following a few basic grout cleaning tips.
What is Grout?
Grout is used to seal things and to prevent moisture from seeping into places where it doesnít belong. It comes as a liquid and is poured between tiles, where it is left to dry and solidify. Grout can be found between all sorts of tiles, from sturdy versions found on bathroom or kitchen floors, to decorative and delicate mosaics. Though grout is traditionally white, colored grout is often used to blend in with a patterned background. All grout, especially light colored grout, needs to be cleaned periodically, with a product specially designed for grout or with the right homemade cleanser.
Bleach and Water
Oxygen bleach, which is one of the newest and most effective cleaning solutions, is available at home improvement stores. It should be mixed according to package directions. The solution can be layered on the wall and left to soak, usually for about half an hour. You can also use a toothbrush or scrub brush to apply the bleach, which allows for much greater precision. Use a mop or rag to remove the solution, rinse the tiles with clean water, then repeat as needed until the grout is as clean as new. A bleach pen can be used as well, and is often the perfect size to fit between tiles.
One of the most helpful grout cleaning tips involves using an ingredient that can be found in almost everyoneís home: baking soda. Baking soda is a great way to clean grout (and other items), because it both cleans and deodorizes the grout as well as shining the tile. Pour water on the grout, and then sprinkle baking soda over the area. Let the baking soda sit for a few minutes so it has time to work its magic. Use an old toothbrush or a grout brush to scrub the area, and then rinse with a wet sponge. Baking soda is completely non-toxic, so it will not cause irritation to the skin or the lungs.
Grout Cleaning Tips for Mildew
Grout is porous and absorbs water, especially in humid places like the bathroom. As a result, fungi such as mildew can often be found growing between tiles, in the grout. A typical mildew remover may work on grout, but it is best to try it in a small, inconspicuous area to be sure that it will not stain the tiles. The same is true for bleach and water, which can also be used to kill mildew. Baking soda is another option, but for stubborn mildew stains, you can use plain white vinegar instead. Simply apply the vinegar to the stain and scrub until the stain disappears.
When Grout Cleaning Tips Donít Work
If all of the above grout cleaning tips fail, it may be time to remove the grout. Donít panic, though, because a small stain doesnít necessitate redoing the entire grouted area. Instead, try removing just the small section with the stain. For a shallow stain, use a hand-held rotary tool or mini-sander to remove just the top layer of the grout and reseal. A deeper stain means more of the material will need to be removed, so removing such a stain may require a fresh coat of grout altogether.
Whether it is mildewed or is just stained, grout cleaning is not the most pleasant housekeeping job to perform. Most people avoid it as long as possible, which exacerbates the problem. There are solutions that are intended specifically for cleaning grout, but ingredients found at home, such as baking soda or vinegar, can work just as well. When all else fails and the stain wonít leave, it may be time to remove the grout and start anew.