Cleaning bathroom tile grout with toothbrush

Nothing makes a tile floor or wall look grungy like dirty tile grout. Although tile surfaces may be cleaned often, buildup of dirt, debris and mildew can collect in the porous surface of tile grout over time and cause discoloration. Take time to periodically clean tile grout, and you can help make your tile floors and walls look bright and new again and keep them that way.

  • Step 1. Clean the Tile Surface

    Clean the surface of your tiles with either a household tile cleaner or clean the floor or wall the way you would usually. Remove all dirt, dust and debris from the tiles. On walls, use a sponge or a rag and a household cleaning solution. Floor tiles can be cleaned with a mop and a floor-cleaning solution. Rinse tile walls. Allow tile surfaces to dry completely.

  • Step 2. Choose a Tile Grout Cleaner

    There are a number of commercially available grout cleaners you can choose from. You can also mix your own grout cleaning solution using a handful of general household chemicals you probably already have. Vinegar, baking soda, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide and dish detergent can be combined separately in different combinations to produce a solution that will help you scrub away grout stains.

    Many household cleaning products made for bathrooms and kitchens usually contain bleach. While bleach can be an effective tile and grout cleaner and disinfectant, many tile experts believe it can also degrade grout over time. If you use a bleach solution to clean grout, water it down heavily. Use a mix of 1-part bleach to 5-parts water.

    Safety Alerts!

    Never mix ammonia and bleach. Mixing the two can create a toxic fume that can be dangerous.

    Never mix vinegar and bleach. This creates toxic chlorine gas.

    A vinegar/ammonia/baking soda solution makes a great tile grout cleaner. Fill a bucket with warm water and then add a half-cup each of vinegar, ammonia and baking soda. Stir the solution until everything is mixed well. Pour into a plastic spray bottle using a funnel, close the bottle and shake the contents well. You’re ready to clean.

    Or you can try a hydrogen peroxide/baking soda paste. In a bowl, mix hydrogen peroxide and baking soda until it forms a thick paste.

    Mixing oxygen bleach with water is another great way to clean tile grout. In a large bowl, mix equal parts water and commercial oxygen bleach, such as OxiClean®. Pour the contents into a plastic spray bottle using a funnel.

  • Step 3. Clean Grout

    Spray your grout-cleaning solution onto the grout, working in 1’ to 2’ square areas at a time. Let the solution sit on the grout for 5 to 10 minutes. Scrub the grout with a soft-bristle scrub brush or a grout brush. After you’ve finished scrubbing the area, wipe away excess liquid and grime with a rag or towel.

    Helpful Tip

    A toothbrush makes an effective and economical grout scrubber.

    If you’re using the hydrogen peroxide/baking soda paste, apply it to the tile grout using a grout brush or toothbrush. Let it sit on the grout for approximately 10 minutes and then scrub the grout with the brush. Wipe the grout and tile with a damp rag to remove the grime and excess paste. Move on to the next area.

  • Step 4. Clean the Tile Surface Again

    Clean your tile and grout again with an appropriate commercial tile or floor cleaner as you did in Step 1. Rinse tile walls. Allow the surfaces to dry completely before moving on to next step.

  • Step 5. Seal the Grout

    To finish the job, you'll want to protect it with a silicone grout sealer when you're done. Apply the sealant according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Be careful to apply the sealer to the grout only. Use a rag to wipe away any excess sealant on the tile.

    Keep foot traffic off of floor tile so the sealer can dry for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer. If you use sealer on tile grout in your shower, avoid getting the tile grout wet until the sealer has dried. After the appropriate amount of time has passed, test the sealer with water droplets. If the water puddles or beads on the surface, it’s dry.

    Safety Alert!

    Grout sealer, if spilled, makes surfaces very slippery. Use caution when applying it, and wipe up spills immediately using a soapy detergent.

    That’s it! Your tile grout looks clean and brand new.

Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.