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Tile floors and kitchen back splashes are a great flooring and decorating material. They, however, are vulnerable to one significant drawback: the grout between tiles is very susceptible to dirt. You won’t need to wait long before the clean grout turns into dirty, disgusting nightmare. Cleaning dirty grout is a pain, as all tile owners certainly know. Luckily, there are quite a few cleaning solutions that would let you return your dirty grout to its former clean and shiny state. You’ll also need a little bit of elbow grease.
How Can Grout Become So Dirty?
Before we get to the cleaning part, let’s educate you a bit about how can the grout get dirty in the first place. This will be very useful later, when we’ll be speaking about various cleaning soultions. So, if we’re speaking about the bathroom tiles, the grout usually becomes dirty thanks to mold or mildew. You see, when mold or mildew grows, it devours everything in its path, trying to consume as many useful substances as it can. While mold can’t eat grout, it will interact with it anyway, leaving dark stains on its wake. The same can happen in your kitchen, but in addition to mildew, food stains and general household traffic will also contribute to the process.
Regardless of the reason of staining, start your cleaning with the simplest, least acidic solution you can find. We’ll move to more aggressive cleaners if you’re unsuccessful in getting your grout completely clean.
Now that you know what exactly causes grout to become dirty, let’s find out what products you can use. We’ll begin with less aggressive household products and move on to harsher chemicals as we go on. Be advised that some tough stains and mildew will require you to use heavier chemical cleaners right away, so if you’re sure that the dirt is caused by mildew growth, skip the “Household Solutions” section entirely.
Some easier stains can be cleaned with simple household items, such as standard vinegar or baking soda. Make a solution of equal parts vinegar and water, or craft a paste consisting of baking soda and a little bit of water and try to clean the grout with it.
For more efficiency, we’ll start off with a small length of grout. Spary or dab the cleaner on it, then scrub the grout with a stiff brush. Better scrub in small circles rather than going straight up as it will allow you to remove more debris. Clean up any remaining moisture with clean sponge or paper towels.
Mr. Clean, Lysol and powder-based cleaners could also work with tile grout. Use it as you would use vinegar or baking soda. Be sure to clean the grout after cleaning!
If you have access to a steam cleaner, you should absolutely use it on your grout work. The pressure created by the steam will loosen debris and stains, something what the usual cleaners can’t do.
If both household products and generic cleaners failed to completely clean the grout, you should move on and try commercial tile and grout cleaners. You can find these wherever the standard home cleaning products are sold. If you can, stick to the pH-balanced cleaners, so that they won’t erode the grout if you’ll need to use them more than once.
Now that you’ve bought the cleaner, spray in onto the grout and let it stay there for five minutes or so. Then scrub it off as you’d do with generic cleaner. Make sure to follow all the instructions so that you’ll clean as much as possible and won’t damage the grout.
Heavy Duty Cleaners
If nothing else helps, bombard the thing with heavy artillery. Heavy duty cleaners, such as oxygen bleach powder, hydrogen peroxide or chlorine, will clean even the most complex and hard-to-clean stains. You have to dilute these products before you use them, as they are quite aggressive and may damage not only your floor, but your skin. The best way to find heavy duty cleaners is to visit a hardware store or a janitorial supply outlet.
If you have to use heavy duty cleaners, make sure to read all labels carefully! This is even more important than with commercial products. Follow every direction provided by the manufacturer to avoid any damage.
Do not use bleach on colored grout! It will discolor the grout immediately. In addition, overusing bleach-based heavy duty cleaners will damage the grout over time. Only use them if you need to remove tough stains – they are NOT suited for regular upkeep!
Work in well-ventilated rooms when working with commercial cleaners, bleach or any other chemicals. Heavy-duty cleaners are very strong, so you should wear protective eye wear and rubber gloves. Another good advice is to never mix cleaners together. Unpredicted chemical reactions will result in noxious fumes, and if you’re careless enough to work without gloves, it may result in severe burns.
No matter what solution you’ll be using, prepare your stiff brush for scrubbing. Old toothbrushes are a no-go, as they are way too soft. Even the smallest spaces will need you to use a heavy duty brush. Metal bristles are also something you shouldn’t use – they will wear away the grout.
Before cleaning the whole grout, test the cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area. This is to make sure the grout work won’t be damaged or eroded. If you had your grout work done a long time ago or if it’s already damaged, playing it safe will be the most useful advice.
Keep Your Grout Cleaner for Longer
Now that you’ve cleaned your grout, you might be wondering on how to keep it looking fresh? Well, here’s the answer: use a coat or two of grout sealer. They are available in wide variety of choices for every room type, including bathrooms and kitchens. Buy the correct grout sealer type and reapply it once a year to make sure the grout will remain clean.