Have you ever heard anyone, upon seeing a newly installed tile floor say, “I just love your new grout!” Probably not. But grout, that often-ignored, sandy substance between your tiles, can jump up and demand attention when it’s stained. Whether it’s the large, dark grout lines on your kitchen floor or the tiny ones between the shower tiles, they are easily discolored with food, dirt, and, in the case of bathrooms, mildew and mold.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Most experts recommend you seal grout every six months to two years, depending on the kind of wear it gets. Places like showers, that are regularly exposed to water, need sealing more often. Sealing provides a barrier, so liquids can’t seep into the somewhat porous surface of grout lines.
Here are a few techniques to keep grout lines clean and in the background where they belong:
The more grout is exposed to liquids, the more opportunity for mold and mildew growth. Showers obviously can’t be kept dry, but you can increase the odds of them drying out between uses by leaving the shower door or curtain open to encourage air circulation. Using a squeegee after every use can also aid drying.
Gentle Cleaners to Treat Grout Stains
Make a paste of baking soda and water to spot treat grout stains. Leave the paste on for about two minutes, then rinse with water and dry. For particularly stubborn stains, make a solution of half hydrogen peroxide, half water, and add baking soda to it. When the solutions stops bubbling, use a soft brush to apply it to the grout. Let it sit 15 minutes, rinse with water, then dry. A mixture of white vinegar and water can also gently cleanse grout without damaging it.
Bleach on White Grout
As a last resort, you can use a bleach and water solution on white grout. Bleach can wear away sealant, though, and cause deterioration, so don’t use it on a regular basis. Avoid bleach for colored grout, since it can cause the color to fade.
Professional Cleansers Can Damage Grout
Harsh cleaners with high acidity can damage grout, so stick to those with a neutral pH. If the above home remedies don’t get a stain out, a trip to your local home improvement store will get you professional cleansers made specifically for grout.
While some of these techniques, like sealing your grout twice a year, may seem costly and annoying, it pales in comparison to having to dig out and redo all your grout lines – a process no one relishes. These tips will keep your beautiful tile on center stage and the grout where it belongs: behind the scenes.