Without proper maintenance, tile grout can become discolored, filled with mold and mildew, and downright nasty. The surface of the grout is porous, which means that if it is not properly sealed dirt, grime and water can easily get trapped in the tiny holes in the surface of the grout. This leads to discoloration and staining problems.
Even if your grout was sealed at one point, the sealer can wear off over time. Grout should be cleaned and resealed every other year or so to keep it looking great.
The best way to clean grout depends on how bad the staining, discoloration and mildew problems are. In severe cases the condition of the grout is so bad that the only option is to remove the existing grout from the tiles and grout them again. However, before taking such a drastic measure, here are some alternatives you can try for cleaning grout. Caution: always test any cleaning method on a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure that it won't discolor your tile or grout.
Cleaning With a Mild Detergent
Cleaning grout with a mild detergent and a small scrub brush is the most basic way to clean grout and works for grout that is just slightly dirty. Mix mild detergent with water and use a scrub brush on the grouted areas. Work on one small area at a time and rinse with warm water before moving on to the next.
Try an oxygenated cleaner such as Oxyclean. These types of cleaners give off less fumes than bleach or tile cleaners and often can remove moderate stains. Mix the cleaner according to the directions and scrub the grout with a small scrub brush or toothbrush. Rinse with warm water.
Chlorine Bleach and Water
Use bleach with caution since it can discolor tile and grout. Mix 1 part chlorine bleach with 4 parts water. Wipe or spray it on the affected area and lets sit for a few minutes. Rinse with warm water.
Baking Soda & White Vinegar
Mix a small amount of baking soda and white vinegar and then scrub the grout lines using a toothbrush or small brush. Work in small sections and rinse each area with warm water before moving on to the next section.
Hydrogen Peroxide & Water
Only use this on method on white grout since it can discolor colored grouts and be sure to test a small, hidden area first. Mix water and hydrogen peroxide in a 1:1 ration. Apply to grout lines and let it sit for 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
An easy and inexpensive method of cleaning grout is to use shaving cream. Apply shaving cream to the grout lines and leave it on for a few minutes. Then, scrub with a small brush and rinse.
Professional Steam Cleaning for Grout
If none of the above options work you may need to consider getting quote from a professional cleaner for getting your grout steam cleaned. This is a good option if none of the other methods listed here work to remove the stains from your grout or if you have a large area of grout to clean. Most professional grout cleaners will be able to tell you upfront if steam cleaning the grout will remove the stains or not and should give a free price quote.
Remove the Old Grout and Grout it Again
This option is the last resort since it is the most labor intensive. Dremel, the rotary tool, has a grout removal attachment that can be used to guide the tool along your grout lines and grind out the existing grout. Once the existing grout has been ground out, be sure to give everything time to dry completely, and then grout the tile again using new grout. After your grout has been applied and has dried, seal it with a high quality grout sealer.
Once you do get the stains, discoloration and grime removed from your grout using any of the above methods, you should seal it to keep it from getting stained again. Good grout sealers can be expensive, but it is worth paying a little more to get a grout sealer that will really protect your grout. Tile grout should be thoroughly cleaned and resealed every other year or so to keep it looking its best.