Removing Stains from Grout

by Amy Gordon
(last updated February 1, 2016)


What is grout? Here's what Merriam Webster says: "Grout is a thin mortar used for filling spaces (as the joints in masonry); also, it is any of various other materials (as a mixture of cement and water or chemicals that solidify) used for a similar purpose". In other words, it is that white plaster-like stuff between tiles that always seems to accumulate stains that you can't even reach, let alone clean. Removing stains from grout takes patience and diligence, but don't worry, we'll tell you how.

To begin with, the best way to remove stains from grout is to first work on the dirt trapped in it. You can do that by applying a liquid cleaner on the grout and letting it stand for at least fifteen minutes. That softens the stains and allows you to clean them off with a wet-dry vacuum. If your tiles are laid very close together, the grout lines between them are so narrow that they do not easily accumulate dirt.

An effective preventive option is to seal the grout. Unsealed grout is a magnet for dirt, grime, slime, mold, and mildew, which will leave horrible green, brown and black stains. Most grout sealers, readily available at hardware stores, are quite expensive, but the investment is worth making for the time, effort and money it saves you later.

As a rule, before you begin removing stains from grout, make sure there is no excess moisture in the area by wiping it with a clean, dry towel. If the grout is breaking up, you may have to replace it rather than waste time trying to clean it.

Finally, try to make sure you don't trudge all over your tiles with dirty shoes on. There's nothing like shoes to get dirt on grout lines. If you can't leave your shoes outside the door, at any rate use doormats and exchange outdoor shoes for indoor ones when you come in the door.

Mold and Mildew Stains

Mold and mildew stains are the most common stains that form on grout, particularly in bathrooms. Chlorine bleach is the best antidote in this case. Do not apply pure bleach directly onto the grout, but use bleach diluted with a little water. Once you pour the solution along the stained grout lines, scrub gently with a stiff-bristled brush to make sure the solution sets on the stains and disinfects them. After about fifteen minutes, rinse the area thoroughly.

Warning: When you are using chlorine bleach or any strong chlorine-based solution, you must always wear gloves and safety goggles, and make sure your surroundings are thoroughly ventilated to prevent exposure to the pungent chemical fumes of bleach.

Rust and Other Stains

While commercial cleaners are the easiest way to remove grout stains, you can actually make your own grout cleaner at home. Not only is it almost as effective as commercial chlorine bleaches, but it is also far safer. The mixture is one of about four tablespoons each of baking soda, ammonia, and white vinegar diluted in at least a liter and a half of water. Pour the mixture in a spray bottle and mix well before spraying it along grout lines. Leave it standing for at least fifteen minutes before rinsing it off.

Author Bio

Amy Gordon

Amy Gordon loves keeping things simple, natural, and safe so she can spend more time having fun. Every day she learns new things about making life at home easier and she loves to share it with you! ...


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What is four more than 3?

2016-02-03 10:19:39

D Smith

We have epoxy grout, so I clean it this way.

1. Make one pass with any cleaner just because to remove the easy stuff.
2. Pour straight bleach, from something you can be accurate with, in the grout lines and let it dry.
3. Use steamer with pinpoint attachment and go down the grout lines with blue paper shop towels ahead of it to catch the little tidal wave of dirty water.

I do a section at a time.

It works amazing, but not recommended for regular grout. Lesson here is ALWAYS specify epoxy grout.

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