Grout is a construction material made of sand, water, and cement and it is used to fill the gaps and crevices on tiles and walls. Although it is mostly used to fill spaces on the floor and walls during tiling, grout has many other applications when it comes to construction. Grout stains easily and is often quite difficult to clean. Here are some of the reasons why grout gets dirty and discoloured and how to fix it.
What causes the grout to stain?
There are a couple of things that can cause some of the most resilient stains on grout. Using the wrong cleaning products will not only discolour your grout but can also corrode the grout and the tiles themselves. Also, using the wrong cleaning products can cause permanent damage to the tiles and should be avoided. Consult with cleaning experts to ensure you are using the recommended cleaning agents for the grout and tiles. The best bet is to avoid any abrasive or corrosive chemicals altogether; chances are they do more harm than good over frequent use.
Grout is easily stained during the cleaning of tiles. The gaps between the tiles form little groves into which dirt can be trapped into or smeared, especially when mopping or wiping the tiles. Since the grout is porous, this dirt stains it almost instantly and sometimes permanently. An impervious sealant layer on the surface to prevent accumulation of dirt covers grout. However, this sealant wears off over time leaving the grout exposed to staining.
Mold is a menace in areas prone to moisture, usually the bathroom. Moisture and warmth provide a suitable environment for mold to thrive. In bathrooms, the soap and body oils supply adequate food for the mold. It is easy for mold to grow on grout due to its porous nature, and scrubbing with chemicals does not help remove it. Chemicals used to remove mold usually eat into the grout and destroy it if used frequently. The solution is to hire experts to identify and fix the cause of mold growth before cleaning the grout; otherwise, it will become a repetitive cleaning process.
How to clean grout at home
You don’t need to stress over finding the best grout cleaning products. Here are some easy homemade solutions that are tried and true for the best cleaning results:
- Warm water
The simplest way to clean grout is by scrubbing with warm water and a brush in a circular non-aggressive motion. This may not be able to clean all the stains but trying it will not cost you a penny, plus it is a good place to start.
- Warm Water and Vinegar Solution
This works for mild stains and heavy dirt on grout. Mix equal parts of warm water and vinegar and use it to soak on the grout. Allow the solution to time to dip into the ground. After the bubbling of the vinegar stops, scrub off the dirt using a stiff brush. Wipe away the excess vinegar solution and dirt off the tiles when done. Do not use vinegar on marble and limestone tiles since vinegar is known to damage some natural stone tiles.
- Baking Soda Solution
Make a paste and baking soda with a little water, at a ratio of three parts to one. Use it to cover the grout, then spray with vinegar and let it sit until it stops foaming then scrub and rinse with water.
- Hydrogen peroxide solution
Hydrogen peroxide on its own can be used to dissolve oily and waxy stains. To improve its effectiveness, add a bit of baking soda and dish-washing soap. The soda and peroxide react to form a bleaching agent, while the soap loosens and soaks up the dirt.
Use either oxygen or chlorine bleach. Bleach is the last resort for tough stains on grout. Soak the stained grout for about 10 minutes and then rinse with clean water to prevent resettling of the dirt. Always ensure the room is well ventilated before using the oxygen bleach. Do not use bleach too many times as it may erode grout.
- Steam Cleaners
This is an environmentally friendly way of cleaning hard surfaces including grout and is highly effective. No chemicals are used. Follow the directions of use for the steam cleaner (different brands have specific procedures).
How to Remove Grout
Sometimes it is too late to clean grout and the only solution left is to remove it and re-grout. You do not have to remove all the tiles because of stained grout. Before removing any grout, always protect the edges of the tiles by covering them with painter’s tape. You can use either manual tools or a power tool to remove grout. With manual tools, you need a flat head screwdriver and a hammer. The idea is to chisel away the grout by gently hammering the screwdriver along the grout. Using this method, however, may take a long time for a large-scale job.
For large-scale removal of grout, it’s faster to use an oscillating tool. Fit the device with a blade meant for removing grout and start working by holding the tool parallel to the grout, before tilting to remove more grout. Ensure you do not force the oscillating tool as it may damage your tiles. Once you are done, use a small flat screwdriver to scrape any remaining grout off the tiles. If there is still more grout, use a blunt utility knife to remove it. Vacuum as you work to maintain neatness.
Tiles are just as clean as the grout-filled gaps between them. Ignoring grout cleaning over time progressively makes it harder when the stains set in. Regular cleaning of the grout maintains its original colour and keeps off resilient stains.