It is inevitable that the grout in your home is going to get dirty. This is particularly true in the high traffic areas of your home. If your counter top is tile, then the grout around the areas that you use the most, like around the sink or stove top, will be discolored. This is particularly noticeable when there are spots still look pristine. The same thing applies to grout on tile flooring. The high traffic areas get dirtier than the rest.
As they say, the best offense is a good defense. And the best defense for grout it to make sure that it is sealed. If grout is sealed, it keeps stains from penetrating deep into the grout. They sit on the top of the grout and are much easier to remove. If your grout is not sealed, don’t fret. There is still hope. But, having sealed or unsealed grout is equivalent to wiping a smudge mark off of the wall. It is much easier to wipe off dirt from enamel or eggshell paint, as in a kitchen or bathroom, then it is to wipe the smudge off of a wall painted with flat paint.
GETTING GROUT CLEAN STEP BY STEP
The first step to getting a good clean grout is to get the top layer of dirt off. If this is a tiled countertop, then clean the countertop with your regular cleaner. If you do not have a regular cleaner, then I would recommend using some dishsoap with water. This is a nontoxic way of cleaning your countertop that will lift some of the grease and dirt from both the tile and the grout. Clean then whole surface, not just the grout lines. Let’s get this cleaning started right.
Once the surface cleaning is complete you’ll want to continue with the next step – baking soda. This is one of the most versatile products ever made. It does everything from taking away bad smells in the refrigerator to whitening teeth. It is important in baking and works great on dirty grout too.
Sprinkle the baking soda directly onto the grout. You don’t need to create a line of volcano-like piles along the grout. That would be a waste, but you do want to have a continuous trail that follows the grout lines where they need to be cleaned. I would recommend doing a section at a time – a 2 foot block, for example. Now, here comes the fun part. You are going to experience a cool chemical reaction. I didn’t do this stuff in science class, so it was fun for me and made me forget that I was cleaning. Your going to spray white vinegar onto the baking soda. Put full strength white vinegar into a spray bottle and spray directly onto the baking soda. The combination is going to create a fizzy sounds and the mixture will start to bubble. This is good. Let the mixture do it’s thing for a few minutes.
While you are entertained by fizzing and bubbling, the mixture is hard at work. It is lifting some of the stains and getting deeper stains to budge. At this point you’ll need to take a scrub brush and get to scrubbing the grout. I recommend using a toothbrush to get into the grout lines. Depending on the width of the lines, you could use a wider or narrower brush, but I prefer using a toothbrush. Scrub the section that you started with, making sure to get the complete grout line so it doesn’t look blotchy. Once you’ve scrubbed, the grout can be rinsed with water. Let it dry and see it sparkle.
This process may need to be repeated, depending on the type of stains. This is a ‘green’ way to clean your grout (and other areas of your home) without the worry of using something caustic or toxic…particularly in an area where you could be doing something like preparing food.
As a house cleaner, we’ve tried all types of remedies for stained grout and I like this one the best. Many people have asked me about using bleach, but I would never recommend that. It gets the stains out all right, but it will also go through the clothing that you are wearing too. It can cause burns on your skin and if it isn’t thoroughly rinsed away, it will leave a while cloudy film over the newly cleaned areas. If you have a tile floor that butts up next to a carpeted area then it can discolor the edge. Bleach will eat away at the finish on any hardwood flooring and leave a haze. Laminate and linoleum will have a similar reaction as well. But, baking soda and white vinegar, two items that are probably already in your pantry work the best.