How to clean grout

Melanie Whitehouse / 01 June 2016

Grubby grout instantly brings down a bathroom or kitchen. But it’s easy to get it looking clean and hygienic again, and regular maintenance will stop the problem recurring.



Grubby grout instantly brings down a bathroom or kitchen. But it’s easy to get it looking clean and hygienic again, and regular maintenance will stop the problem recurring.

The best way to clean grout is to apply a solution – natural or shop-bought - and give it sufficient time to soak in before spraying or scrubbing it off. An old toothbrush or special grout cleaning brush with stiff bristles is useful for this job.

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Cleaning grout: step-by-step

Step 1

First, wipe tiles with a damp cloth to remove the top layer or dirt or dust.

Step 2

Apply your chosen cleaning solution to the grout, making sure all areas are well covered. Follow instructions, but you’ll usually need to leave for around 30 minutes to loosen the stains.

Step 3

Use a hard-bristled brush to scrub the grout clean, then rinse with water and dry. Repeat for stubborn stains.

If you have one, a steam cleaner is useful - steaming wall and floor tiles regularly will keep them free of scum, dirt and mould.

How to choose the best steam cleaner

Anti-fungal grout cleaner

Cleaning the grout in the tiles around the bath, shower or kitchen sink can seem like a never-ending task because as soon as the grout is cleaned it becomes discoloured again, either with soap scum or with black mould spots. There are lots of cleaning products that include a dedicated ingredient for tackling mould, and some also contain anti-fungal properties that prevent any further mildew growth – useful in the steamy dampness of a bathroom. You’ll need to clean regularly for these to work, though.

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Cleaning solutions: dos and don’ts

Spray tiles (taking great care – see below) with neat bleach. Leave to soak in, then shower off.

For a natural cleaning solution, mix vinegar with baking powder until they form a thick paste that will stick to the grout when applied with an old toothbrush. Leave for at least 30 minutes, then wash off.

If you’ve got marble tiles, use only a mild washing-up liquid, because acidic products – such as lemon juice or vinegar, and bleach – can cause damage.

Never mix different cleaning solutions, as some combinations, such as bleach and vinegar, are toxic.

Don’t use bleach on black or coloured grouts because they may fade.

Hydrogen peroxide is less acidic than vinegar. Mix one part peroxide with two parts baking soda. Apply paste to the grout, scrub, and rinse.

Remember, grout sometimes turns darker when it’s wet – it may look brighter white when it dries out.

Ten ways to revamp a tired bathroom 

Safety first

  • If you’re using bleach, wear old clothes and/or an apron.
  • Don rubber gloves – bleach is very strong and irritates skin.
  • Open a window to let bleach and ammonia fumes out.
  • If you think the cleaning substance could splash, wear safety glasses.

Cheat’s corner

Can’t be bothered with all that cleaning, or got guests coming and need a quick fix? Try a grout pen and run over grubby grouting; or a magic eraser that rubs out stains. Both are available from major DIY stores, hardware stores and larger supermarkets.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.