Your Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Tile Grout

White tile bathroom with blue tile shower.

Blue Copper Design

Because it’s durable and easy to clean, tile flooring is a popular option in high-traffic and occasionally messy areas like hallways, kitchens, and laundry rooms. The grout between those tiles, though? Not quite as durable, and not quite as easy to clean.

The dirt of daily life causes grout to gradually discolor over time, and unlike tile, grout stains easily. In kitchens, bathtubs, and showers, grout can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew. The good news is that while it might take a bit more to clean your grout than a quick mopping or sponging, it’s still relatively quick and easy to do.

We suggest keeping a small squeegee inside your shower to wipe excess water off tiles and grout after you’re done.

Things You'll Need:

  • Firm-bristled toothbrush
  • Baking soda
  • Distilled white or apple cider vinegar
  • Hydrogen peroxide 
  • Damp cloth
  • Oxygenated bleach cleaner
  • Spray bottle

Step 1: Gently Scrub the Grout

For a small stain or scuff, dip a firm-bristled toothbrush in warm water and gently scrub the grout in a circular motion until it’s gone, then allow it to air dry. If the stain is stubborn, mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a few drops of water to make a paste, then gently rub onto the stain and wipe it clean with a damp sponge.

Step 2: Spray Hydrogen Peroxide

To clean larger areas, spritz the grout with hydrogen peroxide, allow to sit for several minutes, wipe or rinse clean, and allow to dry completely. If you don’t have a bottle of hydrogen peroxide handy, do this with a 1:1 solution of warm water and either distilled white or apple cider vinegar.

For dark, set-in stains, mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide and a drop of dish soap, smear it onto the grout, and let it sit for at least five minutes. Next, grab your favorite grout-cleaning toothbrush and scrub in small, circular motions until the stain is gone. Follow with a good wipe down from a damp cloth, and allow to air dry.

White tile bathroom.

Jessica Nelson Design

Step 3: Turn to a Commercial Cleaning Product

If you’ve done everything you possibly can with water, baking soda, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide and your stain still won’t budge—or if you’ve got a nasty mold and mildew situation to get under control—you’ll want to turn to commercial cleaning products.

Reach for cleaners that use oxygenated bleach instead of chlorine bleach, as they're gentler on the grout while being just as effective. Before you begin, make sure the room is well ventilated. Open all doors and windows, pull back any curtains, and turn on exhaust fans. Apply the bleach cleaner according to the manufacturer's directions, wait for 10–15 minutes, then rinse well and air dry.

Step 5: Be Proactive With Stains

The easiest way to eliminate grout stains is to stop them from happening in the first place. On floors and countertops, attend to spills as quickly as possible. In the kitchen and bathroom, keep a spray bottle filled with a 1:1 water and vinegar solution. After showering, squeegee extra water off the walls and give them a light spritz. Around sinks, make sure to wipe up any excess moisture whenever you see it, followed by a quick spray and wipe down. If you use vinegar as a cleaning agent, do not use any commercial products with chlorine bleach, which can cause a toxic chemical reaction.

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