In our downstairs cloakroom, we have white floor-to-ceiling tiles with cream-colored grout. People often go in there wearing outdoor shoes before heading out of the front door. So, as you might expect, the grout is now quite brown and dingy. I often wonder why we chose that color grout for that type of room.
So this week I set about cleaning the grout and I was delighted at how easy it was using just a few simple ingredients.
If you have dirty grout to clean, here is my tip in a nutshell:
The best homemade grout cleaner is made from bleach or hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap. Apply the mixture directly onto the grout. If you have colored grout leave out the bleach.
Read on to find out more.
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What is the best homemade tile and grout cleaner?
For white tile grout, the best cleaner I have found is one that contains whiteners such as hydrogen peroxide or bleach. My preference is bleach because it is easier to buy. In the UK, hydrogen peroxide can only be bought over the counter rather than off the shelf, plus you can only buy a small bottle. So for me, it isn't very practical.
Bleach can be bought pretty cheaply in large bottles and it works well too, so I always use that instead. As a rule, I try to avoid using bleach where I can, but sometimes it is the only answer. It is my go-to cleaner for the bottom of the toilet, nothing else works for me!
However, hydrogen peroxide is less smelly than bleach. It breaks down in air and water more quickly and so is kinder to the environment than household bleach. So if you have hydrogen peroxide available, know that it will work just as well for this job.
Adding baking soda and dish soap into the mix helps to loosen dirt. If your tile grout isn't all that dirty and simply needs whitening, you can leave the other ingredients out and spray some bleach directly onto the grout. If you are cleaning a vertical area such as a shower wall, then making a paste with the baking soda will allow the bleach to sit on the grout for longer.
How to clean tile grout with household products
Things you will need
- Baking soda or bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate (these are all the same things)
- Hydrogen peroxide (you can also use household bleach)
- Dish soap
- Rubber gloves
- Mix the ingredients.
Make the cleaning solution with two parts baking and one part hydrogen peroxide or bleach and a small amount of dish soap, a teaspoon should be enough. You should have a cream-like consistency.
- Apply the cleaning solution to the grout.
I used a teaspoon to pour the cleaner onto the grout because I only had a small area to clean.
If you have a large area, put the cleaning solution in a freezer bag and cut the corner off. Then you can pipe the cleaner onto the grout as if you are icing a cake.
Let the solution sit on the grout for around 10-15 minutes. The hydrogen peroxide or bleach will whiten the grout and the baking soda and dish soap will make the dirt to melt away.
If your grout is very dirty. Use a toothbrush or an old microfiber cloth to scrub the grout and then let it sit again for another 15 minutes.
Pro tip: Use an old microfiber cloth that you don't care too much about for this. Bleach can damage the fibers.
- Rinse off.
Remove the paste with a damp microfiber cloth or use the shower spray to rinse.
Here's how my grout looked after rinsing. I was so pleased with how great it looked with such little effort.
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The above method is great for white grout, but what if your grout is colored or you simply don't want to use bleach?
Four ways to clean grout naturally without bleach
If your tile grout is colored, then bleach isn't recommended as it can discolor it. Fortunately, there are several other options that work well too.
1. Dish soap and water
If your grout isn't too dirty, plain dish soap and water may be all you need.
Make up a solution of dish soap and water and use a microfiber cloth to rub the tile grout. You should find you get a lot of dirt up this way due to the tiny fibers in the cloth that act like lots of little scrubbers.
You can also use this solution as a maintenance wash in-between a more intense clean.
2. Make a homemade grout cleaner with vinegar or lemon juice
It's worth noting that vinegar is acid-based and therefore could corrode the grout if overused. My advice is not to let the vinegar sit for too long on the grout and avoid getting it on the tile surface.
If you are worried about damaging the grout, a more gentle acid such as lemon juice is better. If you have bottled lemon juice, that will work well too.
- Add some distilled white vinegar or lemon juice to a spray bottle.
- Spray the solution directly onto the grout. Avoid spraying on the tile surface.
- Let the solution sit for ten minutes.
- Scrub the grout with an old microfiber cloth or a toothbrush.
- Wipe over with a clean damp microfiber cloth.
3. Clean with Oxiclean
Oxiclean is both a gentle and effective option for cleaning tile grout. It is safe to use on colored grout without the danger of fading it.
Here's how to clean grout with Oxiclean:
- Make up a solution of 2-4 teaspoons Oxiclean for every 2 cups of warm water.
- Pour the solution onto the tiles or add it to a spray bottle and spray.
- Leave to work for up to 30 minutes.
- For stubborn stains, use a toothbrush or a microfiber cloth to rub the Oxiclean into the grout.
- Rinse with clean water.
If you still find that the grout is stained, make a paste with OxiClean powder and a small amount of water, and then use a toothbrush to apply it to the grout.
Important: Don't let the Oxiclean solution dry on your tiles, as the white residue can be hard to remove later.
4. Clean your tiles and grout with a steam cleaner
I have had good results from cleaning my shower tiles and grout with a steam cleaner. If you don't like scrubbing, this is a good alternative and it's chemical free too.
How to keep your tile grout clean
Now you know what the best homemade grout cleaner is and how to use it. So what can you do to keep your grout clean?
For the grout in showers, I recommend you wipe over the whole shower area including the shower door with a microfiber cloth after every use. It may seem like a chore, but it takes only a few minutes. Since doing this I've needed to do far fewer deep cleans.
For floor tiles, regular cleaning with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water will keep your grout looking good.
Another option is to apply a tile grout sealer. Tile grout is naturally porous. Grout sealers add a protective film on top which stops dirt from being absorbed.
Frequently asked questions
Can you make grout white again?
To make your grout white again, you need a bleach-based cleaner such as hydrogen peroxide or household bleach. Spray it directly onto the grout and leave it to work. You can also suspend bleach in baking soda, which is better for vertical tiles such as in a shower.
What is the most effective natural grout cleaner?
For white grout, hydrogen peroxide is best. Mix it with baking soda to form a paste and apply it to your grout. For colored tiles apply a solution of distilled white vinegar and water.
Can I use Oxiclean to clean grout instead of bleach?
According to Oxiclean, yes you can. If your grout is colored, Oxiclean is a good alternative to bleach because it won't damage or discolor the grout.
Make up a solution of 2-4 teaspoons Oxiclean for every 2 cups of warm water and then pour it onto the surface of the tiles. You may need to scrub too.
If your tiles are very stained, use a stronger solution or make a paste with a small amount of water.
What is the best spray for cleaning grout?
A spray containing bleach is best for cleaning grout. My favorite is Cillit Bang Power Cleaner containing bleach. Simply spray over the grout and leave to work for a few minutes.