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Before I start on the best ways to clean stained grout, let me provide you, the reader, with a brief overview of what grout is. It is only recently that I have been introduced to the word.
For a long time, I was vaguely aware of its existence as the cemented lines between tiles. The technical term for it is “grout”, a mixture of water, cement, and sand. It is a dense mixture used to fill in gaps or to provide reinforcement to pre-existing structures.
Grout has a variety of adjacent uses- pressure grouting, embedding rebar in walls, connecting disjointed sections in walls or tiled architecture, and sealing joints.
Tile installation is arguably the most commonly known instance where the grouting is implemented. It seals the space between two adjacent tiles, providing both structure and strength. Additionally, it prevents stray debris from getting lodged in the crevices.
Stained grout is most definitely an eyesore. Perhaps not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks tile cleaning, but clean grout contributes to the overall appearance of a floor or a wall.
5 Ways to Clean Stained Grout
Most of the cleaning procedures are quite simple- all they require are a few household items, a cleaning brush, and last but not least, elbow grease!
1. A Warm Water Scrub
Now, this is a preliminary cleaning method- meant for recent or mild grout stains. The title is self-explanatory- this process involves scrubbing the stained grout with warm water. The warm water loosens the dirt particles. Use a stiff-bristled brush in a clockwise or anti-clockwise motion. The bristles reach obscure crevices, which would otherwise have been hard to get to.
2. A Warm Water and Vinegar Solution
Slightly more advanced than the last option, a warm water and vinegar solution has time and again proven itself effective in ridding grout of stains. Vinegar is a natural bleach, and is readily available. Together with a proportional amount of warm water, this solution can be used to not just clean grout, but also as a tile and window cleaner.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide has always been regarded as a cost-effective cleaning solution. It has strong oxidizing properties responsible for the cleaning and siphoning of dirt off of a surface.
Hydrogen peroxide can be a little bit heavy-duty and is only recommended when the stain proves too stubborn for ordinary scrubbing. The product can be used individually and in conjugation with baking soda in the form of a paste.
4. Oxygen Bleach
When the grout is question is really grimy, it is time to bring out the big guns. Oxygen bleach!
Oxygen bleach is representative of the same oxidizing properties as is present in hydrogen peroxide, just more concentrated. Oxygen bleach needs to be left on the surface for a quarter of an hour before it can be rinsed off.
Pro Tip: Take care to ensure that dirt does not accumulate into the grout whilst rinsing.
5. Chlorine Bleach
The stronger sibling of oxygen bleach, I would personally not recommend frequent use of this variety of bleach. It is caustic in nature and is inclined to lead to the erosion of grout when in use for prolonged periods.
On the other hand, it is extremely effective.
Preventing Grout Buildup
Prevention is better than cure is a proverb I have a staunch belief in. If one can prevent the grout lines in their home from getting dirty, then one would not need to go into the laborious process of cleaning them.
Regular checkups are key to the process. Inspect the grout lines in your homes( especially in the bathrooms), to maintain a record of their general appearance. If you spot any staining or accumulation of dirt, clean it instantly.
Water is one of the main reasons behind stained grout– the water that settles inside walls or seeps into floors. One of the ways in which impending damp can be warded off is through the use of dehumidifiers. Keep your bathroom floors dry and siphon stagnant water off of floors.
Mold is another common problem that arises in the later stages of the staining of the grout. It is characterized by a greenish mossy layer that coats said grout and spreads quite fast. Ventilation is the best way to combat mold. Natural light is another. Fix leaky faucets and dripping taps, use exhaust fans in the bathroom and invest in a mold-prohibiting spray.
Sealing Grout Lines
Sealing grout is a necessary step that one must take so it is water-resistant and is protected against bacteria and fungi. Sealing grout is also imperative to preserve the overall appearance of your tiles and their general structure, and should ideally be reapplied once every two years.
Grout sealer is applied 2-3 days after the installation of the tiles.
How is Grout Sealed?
Grout sealer can be broadly classified into two types- penetrating and non-penetrating. The former enables the formula to be absorbed into the grout, whereafter to functions to keep the moisture at bay. The latter leads to the formation of a thin membrane over the grout which has water-repellent properties.
The best method for application is to either use a sealing spray or sealing paint. They are both equally effective. The sealer should be evenly applied, whilst also taking care that it does not accidentally stain furniture surfaces. Sealer usually takes over 24 hours to completely dry.
Pro Tip: A simple way to determine if your grout lines are ready to be resealed, is by flicking a few drops onto the surface. If the water is absorbed instantly, it is time to get the sealer out of the attic.
As we come to the rear end of my long discourse on the cleaning and upkeep of grout, let me remind you anew how simple this process is once you have got the basics down. Avoiding a dirty grout line, is of course, ideal but that is not often the case.
You get lazy and lax and overlook these easy-to-miss details until it is too late. Fret not, because I have compiled for you a list of tips and tricks that will come to your aid along the way. And so, without further ado, get cleaning!