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How to Clean Tile Grout with Baking Soda And Commercial Products

There are a variety of grout cleaning options out there. From using bleach to scrubbing simply with warm water and a whole lot in between, the opinions on the best way to clean floor tile grout is varied to say the least. This tutorial will show how to clean grout using only basic, natural ingredients: baking soda and diluted white vinegar.

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For me, this method was easy and did provide a slightly cleaner result after one application, although the regular or frequent use of vinegar on grout is argued as being abrasive in the long term.

How to Clean Tile Floor Grout with Baking soda

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Materials Needed You’ll Need for Grout Cleaning:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar + water in a spray bottle
  • Small disposable container
  • Cleaning toothbrush
  • Clean rags
  • Rubber gloves (optional)

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Begin by pouring some baking soda into your disposable container. You’ll be creating a baking soda paste with water.

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Pour a little water into the baking soda until you’ve added enough to create a paste-like consistency. I found a 3:1 baking soda to water ratio to be about right, but feel free to play around with this. A little water goes a long way.

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Use the end of your cleaning toothbrush handle to stir up the paste.

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When you’ve got a consistency that is moist but not runny, you’re ready to go.

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Apply the paste onto your grout with the toothbrush bristles.

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Let the paste sit there a minute while you get your vinegar + water solution ready.

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Mix vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio in your spray bottle.

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Spray the vinegar + water directly onto your baking soda pasted grout. Be generous with the vinegar solution; you’ll want it to reach clear down into your baking soda paste to react at the grout surface. It will foam up a bit, which is kind of fun to watch. (And/or it will make you realize you need to get out more.)

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Let the vinegar solution sit on the baking soda for a few minutes while it foams up. This is actually the cleaning, lifting power of this natural ingredient method of grout cleaning.

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Rinse out your toothbrush, and use it to scrub the vinegar solution and paste on your grout. Celebrate when you see the paste turning a bit dingy; this is just the cleaner doing its job!

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Wet then wring out a rag with damp water, then begin wiping up the cleaner when you’ve completed scrubbing.

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You’ll probably need to rinse and wipe multiple times to remove all the paste and vinegar from your grout. (Bonus: This method quickly turns into tile and grout cleaning – not just grout cleaning – as you do this step.)

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Let the grout dry to see how well it cleaned.

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As you can see from my results, the grout is cleaner, although not dramatically so. (It actually looks more apparent in real life than in these photos.)

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Some stains were lightened but still apparent. I like the idea of using natural ingredients that I have on-hand for cleaning, and this was actually a fun way to get the grout clean, especially with all the foam and bubbles and what not.

If you’re not passionate about construction, you might not be fully familiar with what “grout” is. It’s a mixture based on sand, cement, and water, which is used to reinforce structures or fill gaps. Often mistaken for mortar, grout is characterized by lower viscosity that makes it really easy for it to infiltrate gaps. But what do you do when you have to clean up stains that are usually formed on grout and what are some products that might be of help to you.

Best Way to Clean Grout Tile

Truth of the matter is, it’s difficult to claim that one method of cleaning grout tile is the ultimate solution and you should always stick with that no matter what. It’s important to understand that grout can be a problem when it comes to cleaning because of its porous surface and the fact that it’s not usually leveled with the tiles themselves. There are multiple ways for you to clean grout, and here are the methods that have proven to be the most efficient:

  • If you aren’t dealing with any naty dirt or stain, a mixture of warm water and a proper brush will often do the trick. The brush has to have stiff bristles so they can scrape dirt off the grout and leave it shiny despite its porous surface. You can either pour warm water over the grout or use a spray bottle to apply it. Use the brush to scrub the surface using circular motions and then rinse and let dry.
  • Plenty of people like to use vinegar as a primary cleaning ingredient because it’s a chemical-free solution and sometimes a viable alternative to store-bought products. Vinegar is also commonly used to clean multiple surfaces around the house because it can be efficient against mild stains and dirt. To use vinegar in the grout cleaning process, simply grab a clean spray bottle, mix warm water and vinegar (in a half-and-half ratio), spray it on the grout and leave it there for about five minutes. When those minutes are up, use a stiff brush to scrub the surface and then rinse it.
  • Vinegar is one of the two most common natural cleaning ingredients at home, with the second one being baking soda. Mixing baking soda paste and vinegar can result in yet another efficient grout cleaning solution. What you have to do if you choose this method is to mix baking soda and water to create a paste. Apply that paste on the grout and spray the vinegar and warm water mixture we spoke of at the previous bullet point. Leave the solution there and, once it stops foaming, you can use a brush to scrub and clean water to rinse.
  • Hydrogen peroxide is a common cleaning ingredient as well, and you can easily buy it from a local drugstore. People like to use it by simply applying it on grout, or they like to create a mixture made of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.
  • If you have to deal with really nasty stains and dirt, you have to step things up a bit and use something more powerful, something like oxygen bleach. This is considered to be one of the most powerful grout tile cleaners, but people don’t use it unless it’s necessary because the smell is powerful and the solution is strong enough to damage the skin. If you use bleach-based products to clean grout, you will have to make sure to leave the room as soon as possible because inhaling it is not the best idea either. Also, try to use bleach only in well-ventilated rooms and only when you’re sure that no one needs to use the room for a couple of hours or until the smell is gone. You will typically have to give bleach about 10 to 15 minutes to act and remove difficult stains, and make sure that you rinse thoroughly when you’re done cleaning.
  • Commercial cleaning products can be more controversial because they are often made with ingredients and chemicals that we can’t even pronounce right. They are often avoided by people who are sensitive to these ingredients, and especially in families with children and pets, where it’s particularly difficult to keep children and animals away from tiles imbued with chemical-based products. There are multiple types of cleaning products out there that are efficient in cleaning grout, but make sure that you read the entire label before buying because even grout stains can be of different types and you want to buy a product that can remove the specific type of stain you’re interested in getting rid of.

Choosing Grout Cleaning Solutions

As we mentioned before, not all grout cleaners are created equal, which means that reading the label carefully before you buy can avoid any frustrations caused by spending money on the wrong type of product. There aren’t really that many things that you have to know before buying a grout cleaning solution, so just keep in mind the following simple rules:

  • The type of stain you’re dealing with is super important. For instance, we have come across grout-cleaning solutions that weren’t efficient in removing mildew, while others weren’t powerful enough to remove difficult stains without putting in a lot of elbow grease. Remember that bleach-based products are really good for whitening grout and are highly efficient in removing difficult stains and killing germs. Milder formulas, for instance, are better for cleaning grout covered in mild dirt or occasional spots. Knowing more about the stains you’re dealing with can go a long way in spending money wisely.
  • Not all products work on every kind of surface. If you read the label before purchasing a grout cleaner, you might be surprised to notice that the product you were just about to spend money on isn’t actually compatible with the type of surface you’re looking to use it on. For example, certain solutions are only good for white surfaces, while others can damage tiles made from materials like marble.
  • The application system matters. Gel pens, sprayers, drip bottles; these are not all created alike and the design of the cleaning solution container itself will go a long way in determining not just how easy it is to apply the product, but how much of it you’ll be wasting during the cleaning process. Foams and sprays are often the easiest ones to apply, but if you use them on vertical surfaces, they will start dripping instead of soaking the surface with the nasty stains. Products with a gel-like consistency are likelier to stay where you applied them but they tend to make the surface stickier and might be more difficult to rinse. Keep all these details in mind as you are choosing the consistency of the cleaning solution, but also the design of the recipient.

Best Grout Cleaners

With all this new information, it’s time to analyze in greater detail what the market has to offer and look at some of the best grout cleaners in terms of value offered for the money.

Soft Scrub with Bleach Cleaner Gel

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One of the best-selling products when it comes to grout cleaning, but also one that serves really well as a general purpose cleaner is this one made by Soft Scrub. It is a disinfectant cleanser made with ingredients such as potassium iodide, bleach, fragrance, sodium hypochlorite, and others. Despite being efficient as a multipurpose cleaner, it is quite a powerful solution that shouldn’t be left on any surface for more than a minute, even for more stubborn stains. It has a non-abrasive formula and can be used to clean a variety of different surfaces, from linoleum flooring to marble countertops.

Granite Gold Grout Cleaner and Scrub Brush Acid-Free

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If you’re looking for a product that targets grout specifically, this one by Granite Gold is amongst the best ones of its kind. It is a grout cleaning spray that comes in a bottle that’s easy to maneuver and also includes a cleaning brush made with poly-fiber bristles that are tough enough to clean surfaces, but soft enough as to avoid scratching them. It is a product compatible with multiple surfaces, including glass, concrete, stone, porcelain, and more. This 24-ounce bottle can serve for more than just grout cleaning if needed, as it has proven its efficiency against mildew, mold, or dirt.

Clorox Bleach Pen Gel

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Bleach has always proven to be efficient not just when cleaning grout, but when disinfecting multiple types of surfaces in the kitchen or the bathroom. However, bleach is usually sold in large bottles that are difficult to maneuver not just because of their size, but also because of their disperser. The Clorox bleach pen is looking to solve that problem and presents a bleach-based gel that’s easy to apply and gives you more control over quantity and manipulation of the product. It comes with a dual-tipped applicator that makes it easy to target the direction where the solution is applied. This set contains four pens, each one filled with 2 ounces of cleaning gel.

Ultimate Grout Cleaner: Best Cleaner for Tile

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Are you dealing with nasty grout stains and aren’t sure what to try? We’ve added this Black Diamond grout cleaner to the list because It is one of the best selling products in its category and it has received plenty of customer appreciation ever since it was first launched.  You can purchase this cleaning solution in bottles of different sizes,  with the 1 quart bottle being the most common one sold. The mixture of ingredients is mostly effective against oil, dirt, and grease but doesn’t work as efficiently for mildew or mold stains. In fact, one of the things we loved was the marketing transparency in making it really clear what the solution can or can’t clean (for instance, it doesn’t work on age-discolored grout of shower mold).

Grout-Eez Super Heavy-Duty Grout Cleaner

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Another product oriented towards your grout-cleaning needs is Grout-Eez. It is a solution designed to be applied on both grout and tiles, and left there to soak for about 5 to 10 minutes. It works efficiently when you then scrub the surface a little bit. Take note that the solution world on porcelain and ceramic tiles only. One bottle of this solution promises to clean about 250 square feet, which is pretty decent if it’s efficient as the manufacturer claims it is. The mixture is safe to use on both white and colored grout, and work against different types of stains, including grease and dirt.

Cleaning Products

Living&Giving Grout Brush

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When you’re looking to clean grout, it’s important to use the right tools in the process. It isn’t just about the cleaner that you use: removing grout will require some elbow grease (how much exactly, that depends on the efficiency of the product you’re using and how stubborn the stains are), so we wanted to show you some of the best cleaning accessories that are suitable for this particular task.

Holikme 4 Pack Drill Brush Power Scrubber Cleaning Brush

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If you’re looking for a cost-effective cleaning tool that can help you clean grout but can also help with other cleaning endeavours, then you definitely need to look into this budget-oriented brushing set. There are three different brushes to be discovered, with the largest one being the most effective in scrubbing grout. The curved brush is efficient when you’re looking to clean things like sink drainages or cooktops. The long brush works well for rails and window frames. This combo can prove to be quite a powerhouse not just because of the low price, but also because each brush is lightweight, easy to maneuver, yet the design offers a sturdy grip.

>Grout Cleaner Brush with Stiff Angled Bristles and 3-in-1

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Sometimes, getting a power cleaning tool is a much better idea, especially for those of you that don’t have a lot of strength to keep scrubbing grout and tiles. Tools like this one are very efficient when cleaning houses. The set contains three different brushes made with nylon bristles that are created to showcase the perfect balance of bristle firmness to clean efficiency and not leave any scratches afterwards. Note that the drill is not included with the set and that the brushes are available in six different color options.

Tilswall Electric Spin Scrubber

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This grout cleaner brush sold by The Crown Choice is another very useful and somewhat ingeniously-designed tool. It is a brush set that promises to be able to clean in great detail not just grout, but other surfaces in the house that are usually tougher to reach. However, it is clear that the design was optimised for grout cleaning, as it is made to be quite narrow and equipped with angled bristles for deeper cleaning.  Aside from parts of the design that are focused on cleaning efficiently, the brushes are also designed to be easy to hold and use, with comfortable grip and strong thick handles.

The Crown Choice 3-in-1 Grout Cleaner Brush to Deep Clean Tile Lines

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The last set of brushes we wanted to show you today is similar to another grout cleaning brush we spoke about earlier, but you only get the three lang-handle pieces and not the oval one as well. Even so, this is a great set to purchase if you already have oval-shaped grout brush, as it is available at a really good price and comes with three scrub brushes that will make it easy to get into tough and narrow spots.

Bottom Line

As you can see, grout doesn’t have to be a problem as long as you have the right tools to help you clean it. Using grout-oriented cleaner is always a good idea because such products are created based on a carefully chosen mixture of ingredients to create formulas that are efficient in eliminating mold, mildew, and other types of more or less difficult stains. Just make sure that you also have the right types of brushes or scrubbers and you should be able to tackle grout cleaning and come out on top each time.

What’s your favorite tip for how to clean grout?