How to clean grout and tile-the easy way!

How to clean grout and tile is something we’re asked over and over. Unfortunately, keeping grout clean is notoriously difficult for homeowners, and sadly this is because most homeowners are never informed about how to care and maintain grout in the first place.

We learned this lesson the hard way years ago when we had a bathroom tiled. The tile installer left after the job was complete, and we cleaned the grout with typical bathroom cleaning products–only to find several months later our grout was brown from dirt because we didn’t know what we were doing.

In today’s post we’ll walk you through the process of how to clean grout in between tile lines, plus give you tips to maintain your grout after you clean it.

This post contains affiliate links. Read my policy here.

What cleans grout the best?

There are several homemade remedies you can use to clean grout and tile, but the formula that works the best only requires a few household items-hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.

How to clean grout in between tile lines

Materials needed to clean grout

  • Scrub brush ( a toothbrush works great)
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Baking soda
  • Damp white cloth

Directions to get grout white again using hydrogen peroxide and baking soda

Step 1: Mix hydrogen peroxide together with baking soda to make a paste

Step 2: Begin working paste into grout using circular motions

Step 3: Let paste sit on grout for about 15 minutes

Step 4: Wipe off with a clean, white cloth

Step 5: Wait for grout to fully dry and follow up by sealing grout

Here’s a before and after of this process in action in our kids’ bath:

Before

After

What happens if my grout is still dirty after cleaning with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda?

You may find that your grout is past the point of using homemade cleaners. If cleaning your grout with the above formula doesn’t restore it, consider using a product called Sulfamic Acid Cleaner.

This is a heavy duty cleaner that should only be used in a well ventilated area, with gloves, goggles and a mask–but it works!

As you can see below, the grout in our shower bathroom was strongly discolored, as a result of a teak bench staining the grout. The discoloration was so strong that hydrogen peroxide and baking soda wouldn’t touch it.

Here’s the before:

Here’s after:

How to maintain grout after you’ve cleaned it

The reason grout gets so dirty is because it’s a porous material. Unless the grout is sealed, grout literally takes in any dirt, grime, body oils, soap, etc. 

Many homeowners don’t know about sealing grout, or how to properly clean it if it is sealed, which causes grout to get dirty quickly.

Once your grout is thoroughly cleaned and restored to its original color, follow up the process by sealing the grout. I recommend this grout sealer, which works wonderfully.

You’ll need to wait until your grout is completely dry before you start the sealing process. Once you’ve sealed the grout, don’t use the shower for 48-72 hours. I have a full post on exactly how to seal grout, but in a nutshell:

  • Use a foam brush to apply the sealer on each grout line.
  • Wait five- seven minutes and wipe dry with a white, clean cloth
  • Once sealer is dry, apply a second coat
  • Wait 48-72 hours before using the shower

After you’ve sealed grout, only clean your shower with a neutral ph cleaner. This is very important! Cleaning your grout and tile with normal bathroom cleaners is most likely to breakdown the sealant, allowing dirt and grime to penetrate and stain your grout.

Here’s the neutral cleaner that we use to clean our bathroom. I just put the cleaner in a spray bottle, and clean with a white cloth. It can seem a little odd to clean grout and tile (especially in a bathroom) with something other than bathroom disinfectant, but trust me, doing so will ruin your seal and grout.

Sealing grout keeps out all bacteria, body oils, soap scum, etc., so cleaning with the neutral ph cleaner will be sufficient.

Every so often check to make sure the integrity of your seal is still present by dropping a few beads of water onto the grout. If the water beads up as opposed to seeping in, the seal is still in good condition. Typically, you’ll reapply your sealant every year.

Cleaning grout and tile FAQ

How can I get my grout white again?

To restore white grout, follow the instructions above and clean grout tile lines with a paste made up of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. If your grout is still discolored, follow up the process with Sulfamic Acid Cleaner. Remember to seal the grout following the cleaning process.

Cleaning grout with bleach

If your grout color is pure white, you can consider using bleach to clean your grout. However, because of the harshness of bleach, using it to clean your grout can damage and weaken grout over time–therefore, it’s strongly discouraged.

Does vinegar damage grout?

To restore grout to its original color, you can use vinegar to clean grout. Some people use vinegar by itself or as a paste combined with baking soda to get grout clean.

However, using vinegar to routinely clean your grout after it has been sealed is a big mistake. Remember, after a thorough cleaning you should always seal your grout and then clean using only neutral ph cleaners. Vinegar is acidic, meaning it will gradually break down your sealant over time, which will in turn, destroy your grout.

Does bar keepers friend clean grout?

While not as natural as hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, bar keepers friend works really well to clean grout and get it white again. To clean grout with bar keepers friend, wet the area first and then sprinkle the powder onto the grout lines. Scrub with a brush and wipe clean with a white towel–you’ll be amazed at the results.

Remember though, bar keepers friend or any other cleaning product that doesn’t have a neutral ph should not be used to routinely clean grout that has been sealed.

Getting grout white again isn’t impossible and can be achieved by using the methods I’ve outlined above. Other questions about cleaning grout and tile? Let us know in the comments!

Keep reading: How to keep black grout clean

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