The grout often turns out to be the misfit, darkened or yellowing with the grime collected over time. The unintended colour shift of the grout lines brings a new look to the tile but it is unhygienic and unpleasant in most cases. Find the best DIY tile grout cleaning solutions.
The dust and debris that gets caught in the pores of the tile grout is the reason behind the change of colour in grout. A little effort coupled and the right cleaning solution can bring back the original looks.
So, do you need to spend on commercial grout cleaner? Not necessarily. We have brought you a side-effect free home made tile grout solution and cleaning technique that requires nothing more than household items and very little time.
PS. We have also covered common grout cleaning alternates and their effectiveness so that you can make an informed decision.
Grout Vs Grime
People tend to mix-up and get confused what is what. Let’s get it clear and simple.
What is grout?
Grout is the cement-based semi solid that is put in between the tiles to hold them on place. Grouts can be white or coloured to match the colour of the tile.
What is grime?
Grime is a mix of dust, dirt and greasy substance accumulated over the surface, mostly on the tile grout and sometimes on the surface of the tile itself.
So, to be clear, we are gonna dealing with both cleaning the grime in the grout of the tile and the unnecessary grout over the tile.
Why is grime on grout so hard to clean?
Grout though looks smooth on the outside is actually rough and has a lot of pores when looked closely. These tend to collect microscopic dust that the broom or vacuum tend to leave behind. With time microbes start to breed and form a greasy layer that is responsible for the colour change.
The grout is deeper than the tile forming a crease in-between enabling them to collect dust and debris that are not captured by the broom. Some modern tiling methods level the grout with the tile to prevent grime collection. You can also use a sealant over the grout for a better longevity. More on grout sealers towards the end.
Worser are bathroom tiles, both floor and wall, especially the shower area. The wetness and humidity favour the mold and mildew to develop over time. The pores in the grout escape the usual tile cleaning routine which is why it feels hard to clean.
But the magic lies in the right combination of Cleaning solution and equipment used to clean the grout.
How to clean the grime in the grout of tiles?
There are at least 10 different home-made solutions to clean the tile grout on the internet. But I will be covering what works best, why it is ideal and why you shouldn’t use the rest.
Before that, what are the tools and ingredients required,
- A brush – A specific grout cleaning brush or an old tooth brush (electric ones are gonna reduce physical effort required). Do not use wire wool or anything harsher and thicker than tooth brush.
- A bowl – to mix and apply the DIY tile grout cleaning solution on the surface. Preferably glass due to its non-reactive nature.
- Safety aids – rubber glove, goggles to protect yourself.
- Warm water
- Mop/wet cloth/sponge
- And finally, the ingredients of choice are Hydrogen Peroxide and baking soda and little bit of dish detergent.
Yes, you might have all are most of it at home already.
How to use home-made grout cleaner?
- Mix ½ cup of baking soda, ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide and 1 table spoon of dishwash detergent in a bowl. Aim for a higher consistency for application on wall tiles, for which you can add little bit more of dishwash soap or baking soda.
- Clean the tile and grout with damp cloth or sponge.
- Now with a spoon apply it on the grout lines and let it be there for 10 minutes.
- Take your weapon of choice and start scrubbing the grout. Start with covering the grout along one direction/line at one instance. Make sure all of the grime is agitated and pushed out of the grout pores before moving on to the next zone.
- Once you are satisfied with the scrubbing the grout, use a clean cloth to wipe it away. Rinse the area with warm water and a mix of mild floor cleaner to get rid of the residue completely.
- Try repeating steps 2 to 4 for one more time, if you not happy with the results.
Note: If this is the first time, you’re attempting grout cleaning do trial of the routine in a corner or less visible portion to make sure the tile and grout does not show adverse effect to the DIY grout cleaner and brushing.
Why is the Hydrogen Peroxide + Baking soda the best DIY tile grout cleaner?
Baking soda is naturally abrasive which helps bring out the dirt and grime from the grout pores.
Hydrogen peroxide bleaches the outer layer by killing the germs and moulds and brightening the surface. It is a natural alternative of regular bleach without the side effects of emission of toxic gases. The hydrogen peroxide dissolves into water and oxygen.
Dish detergent on the other hand is a nice addition that helps to remove hard stain and greasy substances on the surface and inside the pores.
Alternate DIY solutions to clean tile grout
Most common DIY grout cleaning solutions uses a mix of vinegar, baking soda, bleach, citric acid (lemon) and salt. The issue with the combination of vinegar and baking soda is its high reactiveness.
If you are wondering if what’s wrong in it. There is nothing right about it actually. Vinegar is acidic and baking soda is alkaline. Combining both forms a base which is similar to water. So, the most satisfying reaction that we see happening between the ingredients isn’t cleaning the tile.
Bleach also is commonly recommended by people to be mixed with baking soda. While it has similar cleaning, power compared to hydrogen peroxide + baking soda mix, bleach emits chlorine making breathing difficult unless used on a properly aerated room. Bleach is more acidic than hydrogen peroxide leading to tile surface corrosion in long term.
Adding more ingredients might sometimes add to the ease of cleaning. But the ingredients might get rare, pricey or makes the process complex. The hydrogen peroxide + baking soda mix is excellent and gets the job done in one go that you need not spend extra time and money complicating the tile cleaning process.
Special tip 1: To avoid frequent grout cleaning sessions, spray diluted vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and clean with warm water to prevent grime and mold accumulation. Special tip 2: Another tip to prolong durations between grout cleaning sessions is using a grout sealer. Grout sealer. Grout sealers are ready made pastes available on hardware stores that form a protective coat over the grout. It prevents collection of grime, dust and microbe breading. Application is fairly simple – wait for 48 hours after grout cleaning and apply the sealant and let it dry. Special tip 3: If your grout is coloured to go along with the tile colour or go against it, panic not. Use 1/4th of the recommended hydrogen peroxide level and test it on a small portion. If you notice wearing of colour use baking soda and dish detergent alone. If it doesn’t affect colour you are good to go with the mix.
How to remove grout on tiles?
Now let’s get to the more serious part of getting rid of left-over grout on the surface of the tile. It is not a common sight to spot grout over the tile. But it is prone to happen if you have experience with tiling. Grout is very quick drying.
So, a shabby tradie or a newbie DIY enthusiast can be the reason to have patch(es) of grout on the tile. Don’t worry, there is always a DIY solution to every home maintenance chore.
Hardened grout is the toughest to scrape out of. So instead of full-on scraping and scrubbing, loosen the grout first. Loosen how?
Something as easy as warm water can loosen the grout depending upon the grout composition used. If that doesn’t work add 1 parts of sugar in 10 parts of water and leave the grout soaked for at least an hour before scrubbing.
Vinegar might also help dissolve the grout but with the risk of staining and corroding the ceramic tiles. Use proper protection and test it first in a not-so-significant tile area to know if it stains.
The above household DIY Grout dissolvers all have the same procedure. Leave it soaked for an hour, scrape it, rinse, repeat until all if it gone. The procedure is same for quarry stones and tiles.
It is very common to scratches the tile. So be precise and aware of where you are using your metal scrubber. If nothing goes north simply change the tile. (which we will teach you how in an upcoming article) Until then feel free to reach me out for any advice over call. Yes, I am available for consulting over call for free.
If you endup scratching the tiles. there is always an way. Simply replace the tiles and the grout.
Grout cleaning is never a daunting task that is gonna haunt your cleaning to-do list ever after this. Yes, it wall take time to soak but you are gonna be done with it easier than before. Keep up with a monthly schedule so that the grime doesn’t get accumulated.