Grout Cleaning Tips & Recipes

A few of the recipes below contain ammonia, or bleach, or vinegar (I’ve also included other homemade solutions that are gentler to use).

TileThere are some who claim that these items will degrade grout over time–what that amount of time is I don’t know (5 years? 50 years?) or that they may affect it in a way that makes them more susceptible to future discoloration. I can’t confirm the deterioration claims since I haven’t witnessed those problems myself.

These items will help kill bacteria and remove stains, but make sure to rinse well with clear water.

If you’re concerned about deterioration, use them well diluted (will reduce its effectiveness), or only in extreme situations, or try a method without using those ingredients at all.

Tip: After you have brightened things up, apply a fresh coat of sealer so it is protected and harsh methods won’t be necessary on a regular basis.

Important: Test colored product first before using any method to make sure it won’t be discolored. Especially watch with bleach, vinegar and lemon juice.

Here’s a list of general cleaners and brighteners you can try…

  • Use your favorite liquid dish detergent to brighten grout between tiles, just drizzle on a sponge or wet cloth and scrub. You can also use toothpaste. From: Bring Bathrooms To A Shine.
  • Use a mild soap and water solution and work it in with a plastic bristle brush.
  • Try 3 cups baking soda and 1 cup water. Mix then apply with a sponge, leave for a few minutes then rinse.
  • Another option is 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup vinegar. Mix then rub in with a sponge, leave for a minute and wash off.
  • For Tiles Too: 1/2 cup of baking soda; 1/3 cup of ammonia; 1/4 cup of white vinegar; 7 cups of water. Combine all the ingredients in a labeled spray bottle and shake well to mix. Spray on then wipe off with a damp sponge. Do not use with bleach. From this page of recipes for Shower Spray.
  • Bleach Paste: 1/4 cup bleach, 3/4 cup baking soda. Mix then apply, leave for a a couple minutes before washing off.
  • Bleach Water: 1/4 bleach, 1 cup water, sit for 10 minutes then rinse.
  • Lemon Juice Paste: Mix lemon juice and baking soda to make a paste then apply. Apply with a toothbrush then rinse. Can also try lemon & salt (just sprinkle salt on a wedge of lemon and rub with that).

Mildew Stains

These can be used as an all-purpose cleaner as well, but they’re especially good for removing mildew.

  • Bleach: First wash surface with plain water then use a toothbrush to work bleach into the stains, rinse to remove. If they are especially tough, leave bleach soak in for a few minutes.
  • Vinegar: Rub vinegar into the spot with a toothbrush then rinse with soap and water.
  • Rubbing Alcohol: Apply with a brush or sponge, wait for a minute or two then wash away with soap and water.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: Full strength for about 5 minutes then rinse off.
  • Peroxide & Baking Soda: Make a paste then apply, scrub and rinse.
  • Borax & Water Paste: Apply, let it dry then scrub.
  • Baking Soda & Liquid Dish Detergent: Apply then leave overnight, wash off in the morning.

A few tips…

  • To test if your sealer is still good, squirt a few drops of water over top. If it absorbs the water instead of beading up, you need a fresh coat of sealer.
  • After getting things nice & bright again, keep at it! Clean regularly to avoid having to use harsh chemicals or treatments to remove buildup.
  • If stains are really bad and nothing you try will get them out, you can try removing the grout then apply a fresh batch. Sound difficult? Not really, I found clear instructions here:
  • For quick spot removal, try a bleach pen (watch: will likely discolor colored product).
  • You can use old toothbrushes, a plastic bristle brush, a soft bristle nail brush, a nylon dish scrubber or a sponge with a nylon backing.

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What Readers Are Saying: 2 Comments
  1. polly says:

    I need advice on how to get mold off bathroom walls and ceiling(painted drywall). years of no vent have taken a toll!I’ve tried spraying with vinegar &am leary to use straight bleach.Also would love non -chlorine formula to effectively rid basement floors of mildew (bleach is harsh on the lungs.)Wonderfull site!

  2. Michelle says:

    If bleach is no longer getting rid of the stain then most likely they are permenant. As a professional painter, I have seen this a lot in older homes. Your best bet is to Repaint. You will absolutely have to use an oil based primer (Zinsser Cover Stain works best, less odor and dries fast) otherwise the old mildew stains are going to bleed through your paint. After you’ve completely your Repaint and all the stains are gone install a vent or a fan. You’ve got to keep the air moving in order to keep the mildew away. Most of the home improvement stores have lights that have vent incorporated in them that don’t even look like a vent. If you wanted to go the economical route, then get you a small desk fan for your bathroom and turn it on after you’ve showered. Good Luck! I hope this helps!

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