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How to Clean Grout

cleaning grout graphic overlaid on photo of modern bathroom with blue tile accent wall

Tile is pretty great at resisting dirt and stains but the same cannot be said for the grout that holds the tiles together. Grout is porous making it quick to absorb dirt and spills and easy to stain. Cleaning the grout is the key to maintaining clean-looking tile floors, countertops, and backsplashes. Here is a quick guide to cleaning grout no matter what part of your home it’s in.

Cleaning Grout Step #1

Wipe down the grout with hot water to remove the surface layer of dirt and dust. 

Cleaning Grout Step #2

Spray a cleaning solution directly on the grout. This can either be a store-bought grout cleaner, diluted bleach (both of which should be used sparingly as they can start to erode the grout), or a DIY cleaner. For the latter option, simply mix a 50/50 ratio of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray whatever mixture you’ve chosen onto the grout and let it sit for 5 minutes. 

Cleaning Grout Step #3

Then scrub it with a soft brush. You can either opt for a small scrub brush or a toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes are great for extra scrubbing power. You never want to clean grout or tile with a metal-bristled brush as it can scratch the tile or break up the grout.

Cleaning Grout Step #4

If you do this whole process and notice some stubborn stains that just don’t seem to want to disappear, mix a paste of two parts baking soda and one part water. Apply the paste to the stain and let it sit overnight before scrubbing it with a nylon brush. Rinse it thoroughly with hot water. 

Cleaning Grout Step #5

After you’ve finished cleaning and rinsed away all of the solution, let the grout air dry for 24 hours, then apply a silicone-based grout sealer to prevent future stains. This sealer should be reapplied every two years or more frequently for grout in high-traffic areas of your home. 

Grout Cleaning Alternatives

If you are dealing with a particularly porous or course tile (marble, for example), you’ll want to use a less acidic solution than vinegar which can stain the tile. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts baking soda, apply it to the grout, and scrub it using a soft brush. 

You can also use sandpaper to remove stains from grout. Fold the sandpaper so that you’re working with a creased edge and use a back-and-forth motion along the grout line. 

A pencil eraser also works surprisingly well for removing less tough stains; just use the same motion to rub back and forth along the stained grout line. Then rinse away any residue these materials may leave behind with hot water and again, let it dry for 24 hours.