The Do’s and Don’ts of Tile Grout Cleaning

Tile grout cleaning must be done properly, or you won’t get all the dirt out. Learn how to clean your tile the best way here.
a man applying tile grout

Most people assume the bathroom is the room most likely to harbor germs. Your couch, your child’s backpack, and your kitchen counter are far more germ-laden than a toilet seat.

Even so, you’ll find plenty of surfaces in your home where bacteria and other germs can thrive.

In the bathroom, the surface of tile grout attracts streptococcus and staphylococcus. It’s not uncommon to find salmonella, E-coli, and campylobacter in kitchen tile grout.

The way you clean grout makes all the difference! 

Here are some tips on the best tile cleaning methods. By the end of this article, you’ll know precisely what to do to keep your grout sparkling and free from germs.

Tile Grout Cleaning Schedule

If you listen to the cleaning experts, they say you should clean kitchen counters daily. You should also spot-clean floors.  

So, does that mean you should clean grout on the same schedule?

In short, while you won’t do a deep cleaning daily, you should clean it regularly. Break down your grout cleaning routine into weekly, bi-weekly, and seasonal cleaning tasks.



Avoid the buildup of grime, mildew, and soap scum by wiping tiles and grout down with a cleaning wipe. You can also use a multi-purpose spray and a soft cloth. 

Weekly cleaning helps prevent stains. It also keeps dirt particles from settling into the grout’s surface.



Scrub high-use areas like showers and kitchen backsplashes. Again, you want to prevent grime from accumulating.



Don’t forget long-term maintenance. It would help if you had a professional clean your tile grout at least once a year.

Suppose you want to keep it looking good as new. Schedule professional cleaning twice per year.

Be careful. If you leave stains untreated, you risk ruining the grout.

Stains and Grout

Two rooms in your home get heavy foot traffic: the kitchen and bathroom. Kitchen counters and bathroom floors are often tiles.

Combine the dirt with all the germs, and you have a recipe for frustration (and illness).

Cleaning the bathroom is particularly unpleasant for many people. Perhaps it’s the thought of all those germs. Or is it the grungy grout?

Grout, because it’s porous, is prone to staining. 

If you have tile floors in your entryway or mudroom, dirt and grime are the primary stain makers. In the kitchen, it’s liquid and grease stains.

Most people feel like they’re fighting a never-ending battle with tile grout in the bathroom. The wet, humid environment is conducive to mold and mildew growth.

You’ll want to address stains when you see them. This helps prevent stains from setting in and becoming nearly impossible to remove.

You can start with warm water and a medium bristle brush for fresh stains. A toothbrush works well, but you can buy a brush designed to clean grout.

Do you have sealed grout? If so, you can use a solution of equal part water and vinegar. Spray the solution on the grout and scrub with a stiff brush.

The next level of stain removal is a mix of baking soda, water, and vinegar.

Boost Cleaning Power with Baking Soda

You can find many cleaning solutions for tile grout right in the kitchen pantry. Besides vinegar, you can also clean grout with baking soda.

First, make a paste of baking soda and water. Cover grout lines with the paste. Next, spray with the vinegar solution you’ve already made.

The mixture will foam after you apply the vinegar/water solution. After the foaming stops, scrub the stains with a brush. Rinse with plain water and wipe dry.

Remember, you can only use vinegar on sealed grout. If you have unsealed grout or it needs resealing, use only the baking soda solution. You’ll also need to be a bit more careful with the scrub brush.

No Bleach Allowed

While you can use bleach to clean various household surfaces, it’s not a good idea to use it on tile grout.

Over time, cleaning solutions that contain bleach will erode grout. Bleach can also leave behind a dirt-attracting film, making grout even dirtier.

Bleach may cause the color of the grout to fade. The uneven appearance makes the grout look old and worn.

Aside from bleach, you’ll also want to avoid cleaning solutions containing ammonia. Ammonia-based cleaners can cause the same types of damage as bleach. These cleaners may cause erosion, fading, and yellowing.

Clean Tile with Steam

If your homemade tile cleaning solutions don’t get the job done, don’t worry. You have another option. It’s steam.

Steam cleaners work by heating water past the boiling point. Some steamers keep the water hot for up to 30 minutes.

You can buy either a general-purpose or a multi-purpose model. A multi-purpose steam cleaner comes with attachments designed for cleaning specific surfaces.

Before you use the steamer, you must clean the tile and grout. Before blasting the grout with hot water, you want to eliminate as much dirt and grime as possible.

The steam cleaning process isn’t complicated. You can quickly learn how to clean tiles and grout using this method. It’s steam, scrub, rinse, and repeat.

If you don’t want to buy a machine, you can usually rent a steam cleaner at your local home improvement store.

How to Avoid Grout Damage

People usually choose tile because it’s durable. Tile makes a strong kitchen countertop, shower wall, or bathroom floor. It’s also relatively easy to clean.

What many people don’t realize is that the grout is what holds things together.

Grout fills voids between tiles and bonds them together. It also prevents individual tiles from developing chipped or cracked edges. With such a critical job, you’d think grout would be less susceptible to damage.

In some cases, it’s not poor cleaning methods that damage tile grout. Instead, the culprits are improper installation, incorrect grout mix, or excessive moisture.

You can’t control the quality of your grout installation. You can make sure you use the recommended cleaning methods and solutions.

Remember the tip on avoiding bleach, ammonia, and other harsh chemicals to clean grout. It would be best if you also avoided vigorous scrubbing. A rough brush and too much elbow grease will remove the dirt, but it could also remove the grout.

Another way to prevent grout damage is to use a squeegee on shower walls. Grout doesn’t do well under extremely wet conditions. A squeegee will help reduce the amount of water the grout absorbs.

Tile Sanitization

Proper tile cleaning doesn’t only remove dirt and grime. It’s critical to also focus on tile sanitization.

When talking about reducing bacteria, you’ll hear the terms clean, sanitize and disinfect. They are often used interchangeably, but they mean three different things.

Cleaning keeps tile surfaces looking fresh. It also prepares tile for sanitization and disinfection.

Sanitization reduces viruses and surface bacteria. Disinfection completely removes bacteria and other contaminants from tile and tile grout.

Many cleaning experts advise using a bleach or ammonia solution to sanitize the tile. Since experts don’t recommend either solution to clean grout, what can you do?

Try hydrogen peroxide!

Hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria. It also bleaches surfaces.

Grocery and drug stores usually carry hydrogen peroxide. If you can find rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide is often nearby. Look for it in a brown plastic bottle.

Consider Professional Grout Cleaning

The average person can handle the weekly and bi-weekly grout cleaning tasks. For stubborn stains and cleaning unsealed or damaged grout, think about asking for professional help.

Professional grout cleaning comes with a variety of benefits. Here are a few of the best reasons to use a professional service:

  • Save time and money
  • Restore grout to like-new conditions
  • Guarantee use of safe products
  • Tile and grout last longer

Professional grout cleaning companies use powerful tools and potent cleaning solutions. Doing so means they can usually finish the job quicker and, in some cases, more economically than you can.

Because they use commercial cleaning solutions, they can often restore dingy, dirty grout and tile so that it looks new. And they can do it using safe products for the grout and your household.

Finally, when you schedule regular grout cleaning, your grout will likely last longer. Your cleaning service will never use cleaners not designed for grout cleaning.

If you’re looking for a sparkling clean without the risk of harming tile and grout surfaces, you can’t go wrong when you hire the right professional.

Contact Us for Household Surface Cleaning

Tackling basic tile grout care requires gathering the right tools, including a brush, mop, wipes, water, and cleaning solution. It also needs a precise touch: not too light, but not too heavy.

A professional cleaning company can ensure your grout gets the best equipment and the correct and safest cleaning solutions.

HammondKnoll is the premier surface care expert in Western Washington. We’ve helped customers like you since 1939.

Contact our team today for a quote or to schedule service. We clean every household surface, including grout!

For more details, visit our About Page.