How to Clean Tile Grout

Nothing ruins the look of a clean, stylish tile floor like dirty grout. Tile grout seems to be a magnet for mess, turning a nasty dark brown within years while the tiles it holds in place resist dirt effortlessly.

Luckily, cleaning tile grout is far from difficult, and it doesn’t require the use of any expensive cleaning machines. With everyday household items, a little elbow grease and a few spare hours you can make even the dirtiest tile grout sparkle and shine.

Sanded vs. Unsanded Tile Grout: What’s the Difference?

First, you’ll need to work out whether you have sanded or unsanded grout. Sanded tile grout is much hardier than unsanded tile grout, allowing it to tolerate chemical cleaning agents without becoming damaged.

Unsanded tile grout, on the other hand, requires a more delicate cleaning method to avoid being damaged. Working out your type of tile grout is simple – just run your finger along the grout and feel whether it’s rough and sandy or sleek and smooth.

Rough, sandy tile grout is almost always sanded. Smooth grout is unsanded. Double check by picking at the grout with your fingernail – if a small piece of grout scrapes off from your floor, you probably have unsanded grout.

Cleaning Sanded Tile Grout: Two Simple Ingredients

Cleaning sanded tile grout is simple. You’ll need two household ingredients: a bottle of hydrogen peroxide (a simple peroxide bleach) and sodium bicarbonate (everyday baking soda).

Gently pour a small amount of hydrogen peroxide on your tile grout (if your grout is any shade other than white, dilute the hydrogen peroxide first) and lightly scrub on the grout.

Then, apply your baking soda to the grout and start scrubbing away with a normal household brush. After a little bit of scrubbing, your grout should change from dark brown or black to grey, and eventually to its original white.

Cleaning Unsanded Tile Grout: Time for White Vinegar

Unsanded grout is denser but less durable than sanded grout. This means stains are less likely to travel beyond the top layer of the grout, making strong chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide unnecessary – and in some cases, even damaging.

Switch hydrogen peroxide with white vinegar and repeat the steps above, scrubbing at a low to moderate intensity. If your grout is only stained lightly, you can leave the baking soda out and simply wash away the white vinegar after the stains fade.

No chemical will remove stains from tile grout immediately, making it essential that you scrub for at least a few minutes before giving up on grout stains. With the right ingredients and a bit of scrubbing, even the toughest grout stains can be removed.