Posted on July 6th, 2020
Grout – the white compound found between floor and shower tiles – is a source of frustration for renters and homeowners alike. At one time or another, we’ve all spent what feels like hours scrubbing discolored grout, only to encounter stains that just won’t budge. When this happens, it feels like we’ll never be able to make our bathroom or kitchen sparkle, no matter what we do. Fortunately, understanding how to care for grout correctly can both prevent and treat these annoying stains.
Much like cleaning your toilet, dealing with grout isn’t a glamorous job but it needs to be done regularly to ensure your floors and showers stay in good condition. If you’d prefer the help of a professional maid service in Norman, OK we can help you control grout build up so you don’t have to worry about it.
Why Does Grout Stain?
Grout can be problematic because it has a relatively porous structure: It’s usually made up of tiny sand particles or Portland cement held together with binding agents, like polymers or epoxy, and covered with a seal. Over time, the seal on grout wears away, allowing moisture to seep through the porous sand or cement; this creates conditions that are favorable for mold and mildew growth. Left unchecked, these fungi can leave deep, embedded stains in aged grout.
How to Prevent Grout Stains
The best way to prevent dark, stubborn grout stains is through routine cleaning and maintenance: Use thorough but non-abrasive cleaning methods on your grout, and make sure you clean it at least once per week. (If you live in a very damp climate or have a poorly-ventilated bathroom, you may need to clean your grout every few days to prevent mold growth.) You should also make sure you vent your bathroom by opening the door as soon as you’re done taking a shower or bath. Even powerful bathroom fans can’t remove moisture quickly enough to prevent mold growth on their own.
Finally, don’t forget to have your tile grout resealed regularly. Many professionals recommend resealing grout once per year, but you may be able to do this job every two years if your tiles don’t see a lot of traffic (living alone puts a lot less wear on grout than living with a family of four, for example). However, if you choose to reseal your grout less often, you should remain vigilant for signs of wear, which include chipping, cracking, and persistent discoloration.
What’s the Proper Way to Clean Grout?
First and foremost, you should know what to avoid when cleaning grout: No matter how badly stained your grout looks, don’t apply chlorine bleach directly to it. Not only is chlorine bleach dangerous to use (due to its toxic fumes and corrosiveness), it can damage certain types of tile finish. You should also avoid the use of acidic grout cleaners, and never attempt to sand the stains out of grout. Both of these techniques will remove the seal from your grout, inevitably making staining much worse over the long run.
The safest and easiest way to clean both shower and floor tile grout is to either purchase a specially-formulated grout cleaner or use an oxygen-based bleaching product, like OxiClean. Unlike chlorine bleach, oxygen-based bleach doesn’t give off harsh fumes, and it’s much less likely to damage tile finish. Still, you should always test your grout cleaning product in a discreet corner before applying it to your entire floor or shower walls, just in case.
As a final note, choosing the right scrubbing tool to remove grout stains can make this tedious job both quicker and easier. Though using an old toothbrush to clean the spaces between tiles will technically work, toothbrush heads are unsuitable for covering large areas owing to their small size. Scrubbing with a toothbrush also puts extra stress on the hands, wrists, and shoulders because it’s difficult to grip these implements properly. Unless you’re only cleaning a small shower stall, you’ll want to invest in a hand-held stiff-bristle brush that’s designed specifically for cleaning grout.
5 Steps to Clean Floor and Tile Grout
Locate all the grout in the room you’re cleaning.
While grout is found primarily between shower and floor tiles, it may also be located around shower drains or along shelves and cabinets. Try to identify all of the areas where grout has been used in your kitchen or bathroom before you start cleaning, as doing so will prevent the need for additional cleaning later.
Mix and apply your grout paste.
If you aren’t using a ready-made grout cleaning product, you’ll need to start by creating a paste that contains one-part hydrogen peroxide and two parts oxygenated bleach powder. While the paste is still fresh, apply it liberally along grout lines. Treat all of the grout in the area you’re cleaning, not just the places where stains have occurred.
Before you start scrubbing, let the paste sit for at least 15 minutes. This will give it time to kill mold spores and lighten stubborn stains.
Scrub the grout firmly but gently.
One of the most common mistakes people make when cleaning grout is scrubbing as hard as they can in a direct up-and-down motion. Using this scrubbing technique is tiring, ineffective, and can contribute to premature grout and tile wear. Instead, you should move your grout brush in a firm but gentle circular motion and take your time working along grout lines. If you’re cleaning a vertical space, like a shower stall, make sure you start at the top and work downwards to prevent streaking.
Rinse grout and tiles.
After removing mold, mildew, and stains from your grout, you’ll need to rinse away remaining paste residue and debris. If your tiles are made of a porous material, like marble or stone, you should use plain water to rinse them. If your tiles are non-porous, you can use a mixture of one-part white vinegar to one-part warm water to give your tiles a bit of extra shine.
Buff your tiles.
To dry and buff your tiles, take a microfiber cloth and wipe them down using quick circular motions. Voila – If you’ve done everything correctly, you should have bright white grout and gleaming tiles.
Want some extra help? Hire a top-quality cleaning service in Norman.
No matter which cleaning techniques you use, scrubbing grout can be hard work. If you’re older, have mobility problems, or simply don’t have enough time to devote to this difficult task, you may want to ask our professional maids to clean for you and instead spend the day relaxing in Legacy Park.