Cleaning Grout Tips

For a faster, more profitable home sale

How to clean grout.

Cleaning grout throughout your home can make the difference between selling your house fast or having buyers walk away.

Dirty grout lines can make your entire bathroom, kitchen and floors look old and dingy. This will cause buyers to have the impression that your home has been neglected.

As a former real estate agent, I can attest to this!

Cleaning floor and wall tile grout does take time and a bit of elbow grease, but the results are well worth it. After you're done, your tile will look like new!

And as an added bonus, this will make your entire home more appealing to buyers and keep them from negotiating the price down.

How to clean grout

Pretty white glass tiled kitchen.This shiny white tile backsplash takes this kitchen over the top!

Note:  Don't use acidic cleaners or products containing bleach on natural stone tile, such as:  travertine, granite, marble, slate and limestone. Acidic products and bleach will damage the natural stone, and over time, damage the grout, as well.

Nontoxic grout cleaners

There are a multitude of methods for cleaning grout, some of them quite unconventional and crazy!

White vinegar - Heat 2 to 4 cups of white vinegar, warm not hot. Pour into a spray bottle and spray on grout lines. Let it set for a few minutes, then scrub with a sponge or brush. Rinse with clean water.

Shaving cream - I was skeptical about the efficacy of using shaving cream for cleaning grout, so I grabbed my husband's shaving cream and tested it. I was impressed at the result! After a little scrubbing, the grout was so white. I'll definitely be using this nontoxic method again. Here's what I did...

I sprayed shaving cream (Gillette Fusion Pro-glide Gel) on grout lines and worked it in with my fingers. I let it set for 10 minutes, then gently scrubbed with a damp toothbrush, (or try a soft-bristled scrub brush). Rinse with clean water.

White vinegar, baking soda & lemon juice - To 7 cups of water add; 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup vinegar. Mix together well in a bucket, then apply the mixture to the dirty grout with a toothbrush. Allow the solution to set for a couple minutes, then scrub with the toothbrush. Wipe off with a damp rag.

Listerine - If you google "How to clean grout," a bunch of websites will pop up proclaiming the miracle of using Listerine on tile grout! As so many people were ecstatic over this method, I had to try it myself. (I would never recommend a product or method I haven't tried.) I was NOT impressed with the results-- it did okay, but not as well as other methods, plus it required a lot of scrubbing.

If you want to try it, spray the Listerine on grout lines and leave on for at least 5 minutes. Use a soft scrub brush or toothbrush, then scour the dirt away. Rinse well with clean water.

Baking soda & vinegar - Make a paste of baking soda and vinegar. You will need a damp toothbrush or small scrub brush as well. Apply to grout lines and scrub with a brush until the grime comes off. Rinse off with clean water. 

See the video below by "essortment" for a demonstration on how to do this.

Commercial grout cleaners

ZEP Grout Cleaner and Whitener.

Cleaning grout with Zep Grout Cleaner & Whitener

Zep cleaning and whitening product has received great reviews by many people. It's only for use on flooring tile, but I have to confess to sneaking a little on my shower tiles as well, because it works so beautifully.

Don't use Zep Grout cleaner and whitener on marble, stone, metal or Corian. ZEP doesn't contain bleach and requires little or no scrubbing when cleaning grout.

Another positive is the lack of noxious fumes. Zep Grout Cleaner and Whitener is inexpensive, easy to use and renders immediate results.

Homax Grout Whitener and Sealer.

How to clean grout with Homax Grout Whitener & Sealer

This product can be found at Lowes, Home Depot, and most home supply centers. This product not only whitens grout, it seals it too, making it more resistant to soil, stains, and mildew.

Apply the product carefully to grout lines according to the instructions, then use a stiff grout brush to scrub clean. Suitable for use in showers and on floors.

Natural Stone Cleaners.

The best cleaners for natural stone

Rather then running the risk of damaging your natural stone tiles, it's best to purchase products made specifically for them. There are plenty of good products for this purpose to choose from, but I have been pleased with this one. Marblelife also makes a handy kit that includes the following products below. You can buy this kit at

  • Stone Cleaner (32 ounce)- Selected and formulated for your surface.
  • Soap Scum Remover (16 ounce)- designed to remove soap scum with ease and without scratching your glass, metal, tile or stone surfaces
  • Maxout Grout Cleaner (32 ounce) – to remove built up dirt to see the natural grout color again.  See our video and you’ll literally see the sand crystals in the grout glinting back they are so clean.
  • Microfiber Towel – These high surface area towels can clean effectively themselves as they adsorb oils and streak materials with ease, supercharging and already powerful line-up.

Cleaning grout with oxygenated bleach

Oxygenated bleach is a compound of natural soda crystals and hydrogen peroxide, and is non-toxic to humans. This is the preferred bleach for those who wish to live a "green" lifestyle.

You'll need:

  • Oxygenated bleach
  • Bucket
  • sponge
  • scrub brush
  • rag

Mix up a solution of 1/2 cup of oxygenated bleach with 1 gallon of warm or hot water in a bucket. Stir until dissolved.

Green tiled backsplash is like the jewelry of a kitchen.The sparkling clean green tile really is the jewelry of this kitchen.
  • Pour the solution onto the affected area in workable sections or dip a sponge into the solution and wipe grout until it's completely saturated. Let it sit for 15-30 minutes. If it dries while you wait, reapply more solution to the area.

  • After 15-30 minutes, scrub the grout with a brush in circular motions to release the grime.
  • With a clean wet rag, wash up all the lifted dirt, continually rinsing the rag as you go.
  • Rinse with clean water. Repeat this process if necessary until the grout is clean.

See the video demonstration below on how to clean grout with oxygenated bleach. Video by

As a last measure, clean stubborn grout with sulfuric acid

Cleaning grout with sulfuric acid is a last ditch effort! You will need some "Tilelab Sulfamic Acid Cleaner", which can be found at any home improvement center. 

When using this product, work in a well-ventilated area, wearing gloves, goggles, and protective clothing. Don't use on marble or other polished stone. It may also etch certain glazed tiles, so try it in an inconspicuous area first. Sulfuric acid is a very strong corrosive chemical.

  • Mix in a bucket according to the manufacturer's instructions. 
  • Saturate the target area with water before applying the sulfamic acid mixture.
  • Apply solution to the wet surface and scrub with a nylon bristle brush.  Work in small manageable areas.
  • Flush with clean water immediately or surface damage could occur.

Don't Forget to Seal the Grout when Finished!

After you have cleaned your tile grout, you MUST reseal the area with tile and grout sealer to protect it. Sealing your tile actually makes the tile easier to maintain, as the sealant provides a protective  barrier that keeps moisture from penetrating.

Be sure to get the right sealant for your tile type. Tile sealants can be found at any home improvement center.

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