Maybe you’ve noticed that your kitchen or bathroom tiles are starting to look a bit less than desirable, or it could be that you’re planning to install new tiles in your home and are wondering how to look after them so that they’ll always look their best; in either case you’ve come to the right place.
The secret to keeping your tiles looking great is cleaning the grout, which is the paste used to fill the space between each tile. In this article, you’ll learn all about grout, what it is, why it gets dirty, and most importantly, you’ll learn how to make your own homemade grout cleaner so that you can get your tiles looking brand new again in only a few minutes.
What is grout?
In simple terms, grout is a tile adhesive that’s usually made from a mixture of cement, water, and sand. There are a few different varieties of grout, but for the most part, they’re the same, and they do the same thing. Grout can be used for floor tiles, kitchen tiles, bathroom tiles, or even outdoor tile work.
Grout doesn’t need to be cleaned all that often, but if you want your tiles to look perfect, then you will need to clean the grout from time to time.
Why does grout get dirty?
There are many ways for grout to get dirty. Kitchen tiles, especially those near a stove or oven, can get greasy over time, floor tiles, of course, get walked on, and bathroom tiles can attract mold or mildew if not cleaned occasionally. The good news is that cleaning your grout is quick and easy.
Let’s take a look at a few simple recipes for homemade grout cleaner so that you can whip up a batch and clean your tiles whenever you want without having to go out and spend money on an expensive and unnecessary cleaning product.
The best homemade recipes for grout cleaner
There are a few different options available for making your own homemade grout cleaner, and believe it or not, many people have surprisingly strong opinions on the subject. We’ll leave it up to you to decide what works best.
Option 1 – Vinegar and Baking Soda
So, there are those who swear by vinegar and baking soda for cleaning their grout; and there are also those who insist that you should never use vinegar to clean grout or tiles under any circumstances because they say it can harm your stonework tiles or dissolve the grout.
From personal experience, the vinegar and baking soda method works just fine; it’s cost-effective and does a great job every time. If you have super fancy tiles, maybe double-check with the manufacturer and follow their guidance on how to clean them. For everyone else, just follow these simple instructions; it’ll be fine.
- Cover the grout with baking soda; if the tiles are on your wall, then dampen the tiles first so that the baking soda will stick to the grout.
- Apply vinegar with a spray bottle to the grout and allow the chemical reaction between the baking soda and vinegar to occur; let it foam and bubble for a few minutes (not more than three minutes or the dirt starts to settle back in.)
- Wipe away the bubbles, baking soda, and vinegar thoroughly with a wet cloth, and then again with a dry cloth.
Note that the smell of vinegar should disappear within about five to ten minutes.
Option 2 – Bleach and Water
If you don’t have any vinegar or baking soda on hand, or if you believe that vinegar will somehow destroy your tiles or grout, then no worries. You can also follow this simple recipe to make an excellent grout cleaner from bleach and water.
Now, there are a few different types of bleach, such as oxygen bleach and chlorine bleach, as examples. For this recipe, we will stick with oxygen bleach because chlorine bleach can release chlorine gas which can be harmful in places without adequate ventilation, and even with good ventilation, you still need to wear PPE when working with chlorine bleach; oxygen bleach, on the other hand, is safer and much lower maintenance.
- Mix a powdered oxygen bleach, such as AJAX, Comet, or a similar product, with water to produce a paste. A good ratio is around two parts bleach to one part water. You will know you have it right when it’s roughly the consistency of toothpaste.
- Apply the paste to your grout and let it sit for a few minutes. Again, don’t let it sit too long, or the dirt will start to set back into the grout; three minutes should be enough with oxygen bleach.
- Wipe away the paste with a wet cloth, and then wipe everything down again with a dry cloth.
That’s pretty much it; you’re all set.
When your grout gets dirty, it can dramatically subtract from the aesthetic of your tile work, making your space look less than it’s best. By using one of the simple homemade recipes above, you can clean your grout quickly and easily so that your tilework looks fantastic again.