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How To Clean Tile Grout – A Comprehensive Guide

April 13th, 2016 | by admin
How To Clean Tile Grout – A Comprehensive Guide
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By now, you have probably searched the web numerous times for the best way to clean tile grout. You have probably read the advice of many DIY pro’s, watched countless YouTube video’s on the topic and even explored which tools and products may be right for your tile grout cleaning job. And let me guess…you’re no closer to that beautiful, sparkling clean, tile grout that you want. Am I right? Well let us help get you there…

How to clean tile grout

how to clean grout on tile floor

Why does tile grout get dirty?

Tile grout is a porous material, meaning it will absorb dirt/liquid it comes into contact with. This will cause it to change color over time, giving off a dirty appearance. This can look very unsightly, in particular with light colored tile grout.

How easy is it to clean tile grout?

The ease of which tile grout can be cleaned depends on a number of things.

1. How old the tile grout is, or how long since it’s last cleaning.

2. The tools you will use to clean the grout.

3. The products you will use to clean it.

While generally not difficult to clean, the task of cleaning a large area of tile grout can be significant.

What tools should I use to clean my tile grout?

how to clean grout on tile floors
From your old toothbrush (never use one of these!), to a specially designed grout cleaning brush, to steam cleaners and more, there are plenty of options available to help you achieve a ‘like-new’ look to your tile grout. If cleaning a small area (e.g. the space between just a few tiles) then a grout brush along with grout cleaning solution, should be sufficient. When tackling larger jobs, you may need to enlist the help of a grout steam cleaner.

grout cleaning brush

It may come as a surprise to you but most steam cleaners that can be used for grout cleaning can also be used for a multitude of other home cleaning jobs (kitchen, bathroom, shower, patio, car etc), so if you do a lot of other home DIY jobs, one of these might be a good investment for you. If purchasing a steam cleaner ensure it has an attachment nozzle for grout, and that it is all-natural and 100% chemical free.

steam cleaners

You may come across recommendations to use power tools with rotating/vibrating brushes for grout cleaning. These can be very effective when used correctly, however when used incorrectly they can cause quite a lot of damage to your tile grout. If this is your preferred method of cleaning take precautions. Use a low speed setting to begin with and do not increase it above what is needed to perform the task. If possible, do a ‘test clean’ first in an area that is not normally visible e.g behind furniture, an appliance or toilet.

What products should I use to clean my tile grout?

There are numerous commercially available products on the market for cleaning tile grout. These vary from environmentally friendly solutions to harsh chemicals. More often than not a ‘green’ product will give you the same results as a chemical product, although it may require more work on your part. Green products are also less likely to cause damage to your tile grout, and of course are better for our planet too. As with any product you use for cleaning be sure to read the manufacturer labeling for proper usage instructions, and always do a ‘test clean’ first in an inconspicuous location e.g. behind an appliance or some hard to see spot.

It is best to lean toward pH-neutral solutions when cleaning tile grout. Acid-based cleaners, or bleach-based solutions, are likely to damage your grout, especially when persistently used. The grout may look clean when you’ve finished the job, but it will most likely be weakened, more susceptible to retaining dirt, and more difficult to clean in future. There are plenty of non-acidic options to choose from.

pH-neutral solutions

Keeping in line with a ‘green’ approach to tile grout cleaning there are also many ‘recipes’ that you can concoct with various household products, such as vinegar, baking soda and salt.

Cleaning VS re-grouting

Re-grouting your tile can be an expensive, messy and time-consuming job. If your tile grout is nothing more than dirty, then cleaning is the easiest and most cost-effective approach. Any thoughts of re-grouting should be saved for broken grout, or grout that has been so badly damaged by previous cleaning attempts, that it will not look well once cleaned again. If you do decide to re-grout your tile, and you’re doing the job yourself, you will need to decide which is the best grout removal tool for you.

Should I consult a handyman or professional service?

handyman or professional service

The answer to this largely depends on a couple of factors:

1. how much time and effort you can afford to put into cleaning your tile grout, and

2. how much money you have to spend.

Cleaning a large floor space, or a bathroom wall, by hand, can be difficult work. If you have little more than a grout brush and a cleaning agent, be prepared to work hard! However if cleaning tile grout really isn’t for you, and you have money to spare, then a professional grout cleaning company or handyman may be the way to go.

You may have many options locally for grout cleaning services, so be sure to shop around if this is the route you choose to take. A handyman, or other service worker, will charge you for supplies and their time. For grout cleaning, time will be the heavy hitter. Though not too common it’s not unheard of for a grout service individuals or handymen to also charge you for an initial consultation, so check beforehand. Agree a price (per job preferably, not per hour), and get references or check online review sites (e.g. Yelp) before you settle on a provider.

How much will it cost me to clean my tile grout?

cost to clean my tile grout

The price of grout cleaning could vary significantly depending on what you use to clean it, as well as whether or not you do the job yourself.

Doing the job yourself may mean you just need to spend a few dollars on grout brushes and cleaning supplies. Or alternatively you could invest a bit more money and buy a decent steam cleaner to do the job. You’ll most likely find yourself spending somewhere between $35 and $150.

Going further up the cost scale now, having a handyman do the work for you will require you to dig deeper into your pockets. There are many variables here that will affect the cost: square footage, location, cost per hour etc.

How to keep recently sealed tile grout clean?

sealed tile grout clean

After all your hard work you deserve to be rewarded with a few years of not having to clean grout again. The best way to prevent your grout from getting dirty again is to seal it. Grout sealant acts as a guard against stains and dirt, and if the right product is chosen, and applied correctly, it should provide a number of years of protection for your newly cleaned grout.

If you can keep your tile grout clean for extended periods of time, it is recommended that you re-seal it periodically. Every 1-3 years should keep it well protected.

How will I know when to re-seal my tile grout?

If you want to check if your grout needs to be re-sealed you just need to perform a very simple water test. First, ensure your grout is dry, then place a single drop of water on to it, and wait for a few seconds. If the water is absorbed into the grout, you need to re-apply sealant as soon as possible. For vertical walls, e.g. showers, you can do this test by pressing your fingertip onto the grout line and place a drop of water on to the line where it intersects your finger.

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