For months I have tried to find the magic solution to getting clean grout. From what I can tell, our bathroom tile is original from 1977. Yikes. Some spots are much darker and other places the grout is starting to chip away. If I had money to blow, I would start on a remodel ASAP. Yet, we have decided to put a limit on house upgrades. So instead of getting new tile, we decided to clean the heck out of it. I wanted to do it as cheaply as possible.
Before I get into the most successful solution, I’ll get into what didn’t really work. First, water and baking soda didn’t work as well as I had hoped. Second, I tried the Clorox bleach pen, which was a big whomp, whomp disappointment. Third, I tried pouring a solution of OxiClean and water in pools on the floor and letting it soak for a a while before brushing it off. This was an improvement, but didn’t get the results I wanted. But don’t put that OxiClean away just yet…
The winner? Making an OxiClean paste!
It should be noted that our original grout color is a tan color. The cleaning took it from a dark brown to almost its original color. This solution is somewhat temporary. In a few years I think we will either remodel or scrape out the grout and regrout since the tile is in good shape. So here’s how I cleaned our dirty grout:
What you’ll need: vacuum, OxiClean, toothbrush or grout brush (latter is better), rubber gloves (optional but recommended), spray bottle filled with water, rag or paper towels, and a sponge. Oh, and about an hour or two of your time.
Step 1: Vacuum up any dust and debris.
Step 2: This method goes area by area. Spray the desired area liberally with water. Sprinkle about 1/8 cup of OxiClean over the area and lightly spread it out over the area, focusing on getting it on the grout. I found going diagonally in swipes of my palm gave the best coverage. (Note the grout toward the bottom of the photo — that’s the best “before” shot that I got. Whoops!)
Step 3: Allow it to soak up for about a minute. If you notice that the OxiClean seems to dry up, mist again with water. You’re wanting the grout to soak it up.
Step 4: Grab your trusty brush and scrub away. You should notice the tile getting lighter and the water getting murky. You may need to mist with water and/or rinse off the brush in the faucet as you go.
(Here’s where I would show you the video of this happening, but apparently my phone was freaking out and didn’t save. So instead I give you a photo of the grout in our other bathroom and what this bathroom’s grout looks like after Step 5.)
Step 5: Wipe down with a paper towel to remove wetness and vacuum up the leftover OxiClean. Repeat steps 2-5 until you’ve covered your entire tiled surface.
Step 6: The grout will have faint white streaks (maybe not as visible if you have a white/light grout) and a haze over the tile if you allow it to dry for a few minutes. Soak a sponge up with water and wipe down, paying special attention to the grout. You may have to rinse in this way a second time to help remove the haze and white marks. Wipe down with a rag or paper towel and allow to air dry for about 15 minutes.
I just cleaned the floor, as the shower and half wall didn’t show signs of dirt. Now the floor’s grout matches the rest. Woohoo! Also, yes there is no mirror on the wall above the sink — yet another project going on.
It’s a lot of work, but doing this once a year or so should keep it looking great. I haven’t decided if I’ll apply a sealer in the next day or so.