5 DIY Grout Hacks and When to Call A Professional

Grout is the porous filling between your tile floors and shower walls. Most of us never think about it until there's a problem.

 

The adhesive that holds the tiles to the wall or floor can take days or even weeks to dry, so grout is placed between tiles to not only seal them in but also to allow enough air through to continue the drying process under the tiles.  This means that grout is extremely porous although it doesn’t appear that way to the naked eye.  Tiles are solid and easy to clean, grout, on the other hand, will suck up dirty water and it can become impossible to get the grime out of the lines once it is inside.  This means that traditional floor cleaning methods are sometimes contradictory to grout cleaning methods.  The more you mop your tiles floors, the darker and dirtier your grout will become.  Although a full grout makeover would require a professional, there are some DIY tips that you can use on your own to temporarily improve the appearance of your grout at home.  

Here are a few grout cleaning tricks you can safely try on your own:

1. Scrub with baking soda and water

  • Things You’ll Need

    • Hot water
    • Baking Soda
    • Toothbrush
  • How To Do It

    • Spray the hot water on the grout lines and then sprinkle baking soda on top. 
    • The next step is the easiest part unless you must fight dogs or toddlers to stay off the floor with you.  Wait 15 minutes and let the mixture soak into the grout.
    • When the time is up, spray with hot water again to break up the thickness that the baking soda has developed during the waiting period. 
    • The next step is more time-consuming but worth it, use your toothbrush (well, not the one you brush your teeth with… YUCK!) to individually scrub each line.  Take your time and focus on each line as you go.  The end results will look ready for your mother-in-law to visit.

2. Scrub with just hot water.

  • Things You’ll Need

    •  Toothbrush

    • Hot water

 

How To Do It

Fill a spray bottle on the hottest setting you have on your kitchen sink.  Spray one grout line with hot water and then immediately scrub the line while the water is still hot (don’t burn yourself!). Keep the water as hot as possible for the best result. This method is to focus solely on the grout. 

If you are splitting your focus and working on cleaning the tiles with the same brush and water, everything that comes off the tiles will be shoved into the porous openings in the grout and you will be working backward.  This will cause your grout to look worse than it did when you started so make sure you ONLY work on the grout with the water.

3. Resolve Carpet Cleaner Spray

  • Things You Will Need
    • Toothbrush
    • Resolve Carpet Cleaner Spray (or another carpet cleaner spray that is comparable)

 

How To Do It

Although this may sound weird, carpet cleaner can actually work on the grout between your tiles! The best part about this method is that it's already mixed and you only need to buy it from the store.  All you have to do for this method is spray the grout and wait five minutes before scrubbing.  There is no mixing involved, and you only have to let the mixture sit on the grout for five minutes so this may actually be the quickest DIY grout cleaning method on our list.

This method also may be a little bit more aggressive on your grout than others, more natural approaches that have been listed but it can be very effective and work for a quick, in a time crunch, grout cleaning.  It is a stronger chemical but it is nowhere near as damaging as bleach, a commonly recommended grout cleaner would be.  We strongly recommend against using bleach on your grout lines.

4. Lemon Spra

  • What You’ll Need

    • 1/2 cup of baking soda
    • 1/3 cup of lemon juice
    • 1/4 cup of vinegar
    • 7 cups of water
    • Spray Bottle
    • Toothbrush

 

How-to

Mix the water, baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar together and pour them into a spray bottle.  Spray the mixture onto the grout lines and scrub with the toothbrush as you go.  Make sure to put a lot of the mixture on the lines and add more as needed.  Avoid scrubbing the tiles, as mentioned in the above methods.  It’s also very important that the brush that you are scrubbing with is clean before you start. The best brush to use on the porous grout is a brand new scrub brush that hasn’t even had the chance to accumulate any grime in the bristles.

 

5. Create a Drill Scrub Brush

What You’ll Need

  • Cordless Drill
  • Brush Head Replacement
  • Machine Screw (5-6 inches)
  • Bolt
  • Washer

How-to

This hack will replace the toothbrush in the previous hacks and save you a lot of time when working on making your grout look new again.  It’s also way easier than it looks!  In order to make this hack happen, you’ll want to thread the machine screw through the middle of your replacement brush head so that the head of the screw is in the middle of the side where the bristles are coming out of the brush. 

Put the washer on the long side of the screw so that it sits on the back of the brush and the secure in place with the bolt.  (Don’t put it on too tight or the plastic will crack.)  That’s it!  Now just put the attachment on your drill the same way that you would change the drill bit and scrub away!

 

It is important to remember that a professional is needed in a lot of grout cleaning scenarios. 

If your grout has mold or mildew underneath or inside of it, there is no real way to clean this out without professional help.  You can tell that there is mold or mildew by the discoloration of the grout or a smell that is coming from the area.  This is most common in shower grout and bathtub surrounds.  A professional should also be contacted when there is any sign of cracking or deteriorating grout.  Although you can find many tutorials online for removing and replacing grout lines on your own, it is very risky for those who don’t know what they are doing.  If you were to try this on your own, you could damage your tiles or even hurt yourself.  It is best to call a professional for minor and major grout issues!