How to Clean Grout: The Secrets to Success

The solution to dirty grout may be in your pantry. Grout lines are magnets for dirt and grime, and dingy grout can detract from the good looks of pretty tile. Eliminate dirty grout for good with these tips and tricks.

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Grout can be tricky to keep clean because it is porous. And on tile floors, crumbs and dirt can be left behind, even after sweeping. Plus, a quick wipe of the tiled surface can sometimes miss spots because the grout lines are often slightly deeper than the surface.

Luckily, common household products can be used to tackle dirty grout. We'll show you some proven cleaning methods, plus tips for reducing grime over time. With just a little time and effort, your grout can look as good as new. 

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What You Need

  • Wet cloth
  • Baking soda
  • Water, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide
  • Mixing bowl
  • Grout brush or old toothbrush
  • Grout sealer

Step 1: Prep the Area

Begin by wiping down the tile with a wet cloth. Remove any visible dust, dirt, or general grime. If there are any buildups or stains, take the time to clean those, too.

Step 2: Mix Cleaning Solution

The solution you choose to use for cleaning grout depends on the state of your tile grout. For general dirtiness, mix two parts baking soda with one part water. For stained or discolored grout, mix two parts baking soda with one part vinegar. And if you have coarse or fragile tiles, mix two parts baking soda with one part hydrogen peroxide. If desired, you can also use a commercial grout cleaner. 

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Step 3: Apply Solution

Use a grout brush or old toothbrush to apply the paste to the grout lines. If you're using the vinegar solution, apply a small amount of paste to an inconspicuous area to make sure the acidic vinegar doesn't stain the tile. 

Step 4: Scrub and Seal Grout

Let paste sit on grout for a few minutes, then scrub all of the grout lines. Rinse clean with water. Let grout dry for 24 hours, then apply a sealer to preserve your hard work. 

Editor's Tip: To get twice the scrubbing power, use an old electric toothbrush to apply the grout. 

Other Grout-Cleaning Tips and Tricks:

For lightly stained grout: To clean stained grout, use a strong bleach solution (3/4 cup bleach to 1 gallon water), and scrub with a small brush or toothbrush. Don't scrub too hard, though; you might damage the grout. Wear safety goggles to prevent the bleach from splattering in your eyes, and keep the work area ventilated. Or try a foaming grout cleaner that might need to soak for several minutes to be effective.

For deeply stained grout: If grout is deeply stained and discolored, replace it. Tile stores sell and sometimes rent tools for removing grout. Run the tool along the grout, taking care not to scratch the surrounding tile. Clean the space between the tiles with a strong bleach solution, then apply new grout and seal it. Do not spill bleach on porcelain because the solution might cause pitting or yellow or pink stains.

For new tile and grout: Because grout is so porous and prone to collecting grime, start your grout-cleaning regimen with prevention. If you recently installed new grout or renewed existing grout in a tile floor, keep that new grout looking its best by using a grout sealer 10–14 days after the grout cures.

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