Cleaning Tile Grout

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One of the hardest surfaces on which to maintain cleanliness is tile grout. Whether it is a tile floor or a tile shower, your grout is going to get dirty and require a good cleaning from time to time. Being that it is porous, it absorbs grime off of our shoes or anything that comes in contact with it. Even mopping with a dingy mop head or using water that is not totally clean and fresh can discolor your grout. The process may be slow, but over time the discoloration will become glaringly obvious.

Luckily there are nearly as many ways to clean grout as there are for it to get dirty. One such option is using commercial cleaners. These exist in multiple forms ranging from scrubs to sprays and they all promise amazing results. However, depending on your comfort level with chemicals, you may not want to use commercial cleaners and instead prefer to go a more natural route.

There is a recipe for a natural home remedy being passed around that is worthy of a mention. This mixture of 7 cups of water, 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/4 cup of vinegar, and 1/3 cup of lemon juice can be easily made with items most of us have around the house. Just combine these items in a bucket and apply to your grout lines, letting it sit for a few minutes before taking a scrub brush to it. When you are done scrubbing, mop the entire floor with fresh, hot water and a clean mop head. While this method will clean your grout, it is not one you should make a habit of using regularly as it is somewhat acidic. Over time, too much acid can damage the calcium in grout and reduce it to a weakened state so avoid using this as your exclusive cleaning method.

Another option is to eliminate some of the items used in the mixture above and give it a go with good ol' baking soda and water. Simply wet your grout with water and add baking soda to grout lines so a paste is formed. Let this paste sit for about 20 minutes and start scrubbing with a toothbrush or scrub brush. If you have a problem with mold growth, you can add a dozen or so drops of tea tree oil to your water as tea tree oil naturally inhibits the growth of mold. Once your grout is cleaned, wipe away your baking soda paste and mop your floor with hot water and a clean mop head to remove any remaining residue.

You can also clean your grout with something known as oxygen bleach, which is non-toxic and safe for colors and fabrics (unlike regular bleach that will ruin clothing). It does, however, produce fumes, so be sure to ventilate your work area. Mix oxygen bleach with hot water and let it dissolve, then wet your grout with this solution and let sit. If the grout absorbs the water or it evaporates, add more; you want to keep the grout soaking so the oxygen bleach can work its magic. The longer it sits, the less you will have to scrub, but since it is not practical to leave your floor wet all day, giving it at least 30 minutes is ideal. Grab a brush and give your grout a scrub, then mop up the excess with hot water and a clean mop head. To maintain this clean, you can add oxygen bleach to your mop water on a regular basis.

Now that your grout is nice and clean, keep it that way by sealing it. New grout and tile should be sealed upon installation, but over time the seal erodes and needs to be replenished. Unsealed grout is more susceptible to staining, so taking the time to re-seal will save you some of the need for repeated scrubbing. Many grout sealers are available and are easy to apply, so give that grout a seal and go admire the fruits of your labor from a comfy seat on the couch!

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