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White grout: The good, bad and ugly

White grout is timeless and is very versatile as it can work with many different tile combinations, but is it practical? After having white grout in our bathroom with shiplap for four years, I finally feel like I can accurately let everyone know about the good, bad and ugly.

If you’re thinking about white grout in your new build or up-coming renovation, or maybe you installed white grout recently, this post is for you!

Can white grout stay white?

Yes, white grout can stay white, but it comes with a very important caveat. You have to baby grout. Not just white grout, but all grout. Unless, of course, your grout is the color of dirt or sand. Those grout colors are the most maintenance-free options you can choose. Unfortunately, most dirt-like colors work best with travertine tile, which is not exactly something that many people are rushing to put in their homes.

Does white grout get dirty?

White grout gets dirtier when it’s used in the shower. To date, we have had no negative experiences with white grout used on our tile floor in the bathroom. You have to be pretty vigilant to keep white grout clean in the shower and clean fairly regularly to keep white grout clean on the floor.

While I would consider the bathroom to be a high traffic area, it’s not an area that household members would routinely wear shoes, so I think white grout is much easier to get away with in a bathroom than say a foyer or mudroom. Does that mean you should avoid it entirely in those areas, no, but you do need to be aware of the maintenance required.

Should I use white grout in the shower?

If you’re someone that likes to clean or doesn’t mind it or has the budget to have your grout cleaned professionally once a year, go for the white grout in the shower. If however, you don’t enjoy cleaning and you can’t see yourself paying for someone to steam clean your grout and seal it on a yearly basis, you might opt to go a bit darker.

Take a look at the different grout options in this bathroom. On the left you have ultra bright white, which would be very hard to maintain. In the middle you have almost like a sand color, which would be my recommendation if you’re someone that doesn’t like to see dirt and you only want to stick to a modest cleaning schedule. And then of course, you have black grout, which is just like what we did on our shower wall. Also hard to maintain, surprisingly!

What’s the whitest grout?

This is just one example of grout color choices from a popular grout company. Arctic white is pretty well known and is the whitest grout color you can choose. I would be very cautious with any of the whites on this list for your shower floor and surrounding walls, as it’s quickly going to get yellow or turn the color of dirt. Now, there are ways to maintain and restore, which I’ll go over below, but you just need to be realistic with yourself.

If you really want that white grout look but don’t want quite the maintenance as pure white, consider colors like Rolling Fog and Platinum. These choices have just enough gray in them to hide some dirt but aren’t so bright white that you’ll notice the moment the grout is anything but white.

Should you seal white grout?

Yes, you need to seal grout that will come in contact with water. I wrote a huge post on how to seal grout to that you should refer to, but at a minimum, consider sealing grout on a yearly basis.

How do you maintain white grout?

Maintaining white grout isn’t for the faint of heart–you’ll need to be proactive to keep this looking as clean as it was on install day. Here’s the formula I follow.

Step 1: Bi weekly cleaning

I used to be pretty OCD about cleaning my shower every single week, but once I had kids, that quickly went out the window and with better cleaning throughout the year and making sure to always seal grout on a yearly basis, I’m able to get away with cleaning it every two weeks.

Step 2: Find the right products

First and foremost, you want to make sure grout is sealed upon installation. Don’t start using your shower until the grout is sealed and it’s completely dry. Most directions will tell you to wait 48-72 hours. Once that’s done, it’s time to get on a every other week cleaning schedule.

You need to find a cleaner that’s very low in terms of acidity to clean your grout. You don’t want an acidic cleaner to break down the seal over time, causing dirt and bacteria to get on to the grout itself.

If you read an earlier post I did on my homemade dawn and vinegar shower cleaner you know that I do use vinegar to clean my shower doors, but I would never use vinegar to clean my grout. Vinegar is way too acidic to clean grout and will break down the seal overtime, which leads to dirty grout.

After trying a lot of other gentle commercial cleaners like this one I started using Branch Basics bathroom cleaner. This isn’t a plug for Branch Basics, and I won’t even link to them. But I wanted to try them out because the popular grout and tile cleaners like the one I linked above are not great for your health.

I use the bathroom cleaner from Branch Basics along with the oxygen boost and I can tell you that my grout has never been cleaner, and yes, even when I was using the ultra concentrated aqua mix cleaner. If Branch Basics isn’t for you, you’ll need to stick with a ph neutral cleaner.

Step 3: Seal grout yearly

After a very thorough cleaning you need to seal your grout. Do this at least every year, but you might want to even consider it every 6-9 months just to be safe. Once the sealant brakes down you’ll quickly start to see mold growing on your grout in between cleanings.

Step 4: Consider professional cleaning services for grout beyond repair

Before I stumbled upon the branch basics cleaning supplies I was paying each year to have a grout cleaning company come out and steam clean and seal my grout. Each time they did the results were amazing, but it would only last about six months before I noticed grime and dirt building up on the grout.

I would recommend this additional step if you find that your grout is hard to keep white. It might be a good idea to seal the grout about six months after you pay for this service to maintain it.

All in all, white grout can make a beautiful statement, but if you aren’t prepared to clean it regularly or pay someone to deep clean it and make touch ups in between, you might be better off with a darker colored grout. In the meantime, check out my popular post on grout colors for more inspiration.

ashley and daniel

ABOUT DANIEL AND ASHLEY

As a licensed general contractor with more than 10 years in the business, Daniel can walk you through any home renovation or improvement project step-by-step. And if you’re here for home design and paint color advice, Ashley’s your girl! Join us as we share helpful tips and step-by-step tutorials on anything and everything home. We’re also renovating our personal home along the way, and will use this blog as a way to document our progress. Read more...

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