Unsightly mildew, dirt, pet stains, or general grease and grime can ruin the appearance of flooring tiles. Cleaning grout on a tiled floor is however straightforward to achieve with a few cheap and simple household products and a fair amount of elbow grease!
When setting out to clean grout on tile floors there are some items that will be required and some that may make the job easier if the floor is especially dirty.
Required Cleaning Items
- Broom, brush, mop or vacuum
- Spray Bottle
- Vinegar (white is best, but any is OK)
- Baking Soda
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Scrubbing Brush and an old Toothbrush for small areas
Heavy Duty Cleaning (Optional Items)
- Proprietary Grout Cleaners
- Steam Cleaning Machine
Preparation and Cleaning if Grout has Light Staining
1. Clean the floor of any obvious loose debris and clutter. Flooring in high traffic areas will require closer attention. Once the floor is clear of all obvious obstructions, brush or vacuum the floor to removed any small items such as dust or grit.
2. Once the floor is clear of loose dust and dirt, mop the floor with a household floor cleaner and allow to dry.
3. Assess the dry floor for the extent of the staining and any damage to the grout. If the grout is extensively stained or damaged then it may be more straightforward to re-grout the floor.
4. Assuming that the staining is manageable and the grout is reasonably intact mix a 1:1 solution of warm water and vinegar in the spray bottle.
5. Dust the grout with a light covering of baking powder, then apply the water and vinegar solution from the bottle. This will cause the baking powder to fizz.
6. When the bubbling has stopped, scrub the grout with a scrubbing brush or tooth brush, depending on the size of the area to be cleaned.
7. Once the grout has been cleaned mop the floor to removed any residue and reassess. If the grout is still stained then other methods can be used.
Cleaning Heavily Stained Grout on Floor Tiles
If after trying the first method you find that the grout is still stained then applying hydrogen peroxide instead of vinegar can be an effective solution. The technique remains the same overall, but hydrogen peroxide is a more effective cleaner than vinegar.
Similarly, baking soda can be mixed with a little water and applied as a paste directly to the grout. If scrubbed well and used alongside the hydrogen peroxide solution this can be a very effective and cheap cleaning method.
Using Bleach to Clean Floor Grout
Some individuals will tell you to use chlorine bleach instead of vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. This can be unwise and we don’t recommend it. Be very careful if you do choose to do this as when bleach is mixed with an acid, such as vinegar, chlorine gas is released. This gas forms hydrochloric acid when it mixes with water in the lungs and eyes and serious harm can result. If you do choose to use bleach then always wear gloves and eye protection and follow manufacturer’s instructions to the letter.
Bleach should not be applied to colored grout as it can cause discoloration.
Proprietary Cleaning Solutions
If none of the above methods work then perhaps a proprietary grout cleaning product could help, but if using one make sure you take all recommended safety precautions and wear prescribed safety equipment. Many industrial grout cleaners are acid based and can cause harm to stone or other natural surfaces on your tiles. Always read the instructions!
Steam Cleaning Floor Grout
If your floor is heavily stained and the above methods have not worked then you might want to try steam cleaning. Steam cleaners do not have to be purchased outright. They can be rented for reasonable rates from a local tool hire store. If you are uncomfortable using a steam cleaner then specialist cleaning companies can be hired to clean the floor for you.
If All Else Fails
If none of these solutions have effectively cleaned the grout on your tiled floor then there is still an answer. The best solution may be to regrout your tiled floor. This sounds like a drastic step, but grouting a tiled floor is reasonably straightforward if approached with patience and a little knowledge. This subject will be the topic of a later article.