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Dirty grout can make the rest of your bathroom look unclean, but keeping it in its pristine white condition can be a challenge (especially if you're sharing the space with multiple household members). Because it's so porous, grout seems to attract every speck of dirt in your bathroom, and it can be hard to clean once it starts turning to a darker color.
But unlike other seemingly minor chores, this isn't one you should ignore when grandma comes to visit. Keeping grout clear of mildew and mold does require a little time and effort, but a small bathroom can usually be deep cleaned in under an hour—and it'll also help your bathroom stay fresh without bacteria making its way into the air.
Below, read on for easy steps to master grout cleaning in your space once and for all.
How Often Should You Clean Bathroom Grout?
Luckily, the color of your grout is an easy indicator to tell when it's time for a scrub. In your shower, it's especially important to clean grout regularly. This space is prone to building up bacteria, mildew, and even mold when left unattended for too long—so you should wipe down this space at least biweekly to keep the shower looking bright and white. When it comes to the rest of your bathroom (like floor and wall tile), a monthly cleaning should suffice in most households. If you have multiple family members or roommates sharing the bathroom, keep an eye on the color of your grout to determine a schedule that suits your home: When it starts turning darker, a quick cleaning should do the trick.
Things You'll Need
- Baking soda
- Hydrogen peroxide (optional)
- Commercial cleaner (optional)
- Spray bottle
- Steam cleaner (optional)
How to Clean Grout With Baking Soda and Vinegar
Step 1: Mix up Your Solutions
To get started, the baking soda and vinegar method is an easy way to clean most bathroom grout with items in your home. First, make a cleaning solution with baking soda: Mix a couple of tablespoons with enough water to create a thick paste. Next, prepare a mixture of vinegar and water (1:1 ratio) in a spray bottle. Gather a hard-bristled toothbrush and a rag for the next step.
While wearing rubber gloves and old clothes is optional, it's helpful to protect your skin from bacteria, mold, and mildew when cleaning bathroom grout.
Step 2: Apply the Paste and Scrub
Once you've created the baking soda paste, apply it directly to the grout and use the toothbrush to start scrubbing. Using a circular motion, work the paste into the grout. After you've loosened up the dirt, spray the vinegar mixture directly onto the surface.
You'll see it begin to bubble (this is exactly what should happen). Leave the vinegar solution on for about 30 minutes so it can really work its way into the grout.
Step 3: Rinse and Repeat
Using warm water and a rag, rinse the solution off the grout. Patience is a virtue here: You may need to repeat the above steps a second time or move on to other solutions for deep, set-in stains.
Step 4: Use Hydrogen Peroxide for Stubborn Stains
If your grout is badly stained, sometimes you'll need to pull out the big guns. Hydrogen peroxide can be a great tool to cut through any stains and mildew that have remained so long that they feel like an old roommate.
Make sure the vinegar and baking soda are completely rinsed off, then spray hydrogen peroxide directly onto the grout. Allow it to work for five to 10 minutes. Then, using a scrub brush or toothbrush, work it into the grout. Once you've loosened up the stains, rinse the surface with warm water and wipe it down with a rag.
You can also create a paste with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide if the liquid alone isn't cutting it—just be sure not to mix peroxide with vinegar, as they can create a toxic acid when combined.
How to Clean Grout With a Commercial Cleaner
Step 1: Choose Your Cleaner
If you'd rather go the store-bought route, there are many effective grout cleaners on the market. An oxygen bleach product (like OxiClean) can help lighten up stains on grout, but be sure that the solution is safe for your tiles.
Step 2: Spray and Scrub
Some handpainted or delicate tilework cannot stand up to harsh chemicals, so it's helpful to test any store-bought cleaner on your tiles in an inconspicuous area so you can monitor them for discoloration before you go all in. Spray the cleaner directly onto the grout, then let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Clean the area with a toothbrush or scrub brush to loosen up stubborn stains.
Step 3: Rinse and Wipe Down
Rinse the cleaner off with warm water. Using a washcloth, wipe down each line of grout to remove any remaining cleaner and debris. If a few stains remain, spot-treat them by repeating the steps in any necessary areas.
How to Clean Grout With a Steam Cleaner
Step 1: Steam the Grout
If you own a steam cleaner, now is the time to bring it out of storage. Using the pointed attachment, aim the steam cleaner directly at the grout, following the lines carefully to ensure each area is covered.
Step 2: Scrub as You Go
Take a toothbrush and gently clean the grout as you work the steam cleaner over it. This method likely won't get your grout entirely clean, but it's a great tool to loosen caked-on dirt without having to use a lot of elbow grease. For stubborn stains, try the steam cleaning method before a baking soda and vinegar wash.
How to Keep Grout Clean Longer
Now that your grout is sparkling clean, let's keep it that way. Mix equal parts vinegar and water and create your own "grout solution" to spray down the tiles after you use the shower. This will prevent mold and mildew from developing in the first place (and save you a lot of time in the future).
Mold loves moisture, so we also recommend keeping a small microfiber towel in your shower to wipe down grout lines weekly or after each use. This takes a little more effort, but it's a good practice to keep those grout lines looking pristine.