How to clean grout and finally get out those stains

How to clean grout and finally get out those stains
It's best to use mild solutions when cleaning grout.CameronAynSmith/Getty Images
  • In high traffic areas like the kitchen, grout requires cleaning every two to three months.
  • Harsh chemical cleaners and coarse scrubbers can break down grout and decrease its lifespan.
  • A mixture of hydrogren peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap will degrease and brighten grout.

Cleaning grout is one of the most laborious household chores. Home stager Tara Melhus - whose first task when getting homes ready for showing is a thorough deep clean - says you have to do "it on your hands and knees, and if you're not doing it like that, there's no point."

The more you keep up with your cleaning routine, however, the less straining it is, says Melhus. Before you start scrubbing, know what tools you'll need and the steps to take that'll produce the best results.

Quick tip: "Cleaning your floors regularly will help keep your grout bright and fresh," says Melhus.

What you need

  • Scrub brush or a hard-bristle toothbrush

  • Cleaning cloth
  • Bowl

  • 1/2 cup baking soda

  • 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide

  • 1 teaspoon dish soap

How to clean grout

  1. Create a homemade cleaning solution. The tried-and-true DIY cleaning solution that Melhus uses is a mixture of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soap (her favorite is blue Dawn), which respectively act as the exfoliating scrub, brightener, and cleaner/degreaser. Her recipe is enough to clean a small powder room; for larger rooms like a kitchen or living room, double or triple the mixture.
  2. Let the solution sit. Think of cleaning grout as a skincare routine. In order for the solution to truly clarify, let it soak untouched before the exfoliating step. Melhus recommends letting the mixture sit for five to 10 minutes to yield the cleanest results.

  3. Scrub the grout thoroughly. Use a brush or hard-bristle toothbrush to scrub the grout completely. You may need to create more paste as you go, depending on how large the room is. Once you're done, rinse the floor clean with "hot hot hot" water, Melhus says. Use a cloth to remove any residual solution.
  4. Repeat the process for stubborn stains. If you're working in a high-traffic area and you don't clean grout often, you'll need to repeat the process a second time.

How often should you clean grout?

In a highly-frequented area like the kitchen, Melhus recommends cleaning the grout every two to three months. Depending on how often your bathroom is used, you may want to adopt a similar cleaning schedule since substances tend to build up faster there. "Products like makeup, powders, and blushes get into your grout."

You'll know it's time to scrub once you notice the grout changing color. "If you're unsure about what color your grout is, look behind your toilet because that toilet section would never have foot traffic," she says.


Quick tip: Melhus recommends using the same hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap mix for mold. It can also double as a non-toxic clothing stain remover.

When homemade solutions don't work

If stains remain stubborn after using a homemade solution, it's okay to turn to higher grade cleaning products with more chemicals in them.

"The only thing I would be cautious of is not stripping the grout," Melhus says, so use chemicals sparingly. She also says to avoid grout pens, which can do more harm than good. Instead of cleaning grout, the paint from the pen simply covers up stains, making it even more difficult to eventually clean with this extra layer.

Insider's takeaway

While it definitely requires elbow grease, cleaning grout can be a simple and fairly inexpensive process. Mopping your floors regularly and giving grout a deep clean every few months will make it less time-consuming in the long run.

Ultimately, creating a homemade cleaning solution is cost-effective and yields the best results. "It's abrasive enough without damaging tile," Melhus says.

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