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Your grout is disgusting—use this trick to clean it

Next time you wash the tile, clean the grout, too

Cleaning dirty tiles Credit: Getty Images

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A colleague of mine recently visited the home of a celebrity, and, as anyone would do, he peeked into the kitchen. “Would you believe it?” he asked, “She has a tile countertop. I wonder how she keeps the grout clean.”

Okay—you and I would have opened the refrigerator and the cabinets and had a look around, but his focus on the grout got me thinking. How would I keep that grout clean?

Moldy tile
Credit: Getty Images

Tile backsplashes and surrounds sure look pretty—until the grout turns moldy.

You see, grout is very porous. Dirt and grease sink in, and washing the tile doesn’t get the stains out. So, the countertop, floor, or bathroom walls never really look clean. And that’s annoying.

So, I did some research, and I found a safe, easy way to clean grout using oxygen bleach.

Here's what to do:

  1. Mix up a solution of about 3 tablespoons powdered oxygen bleach (something like OxiClean would work) and warm water in a 2-gallon bucket.
  2. With a sponge or cloth, swipe it around the surface until the grout lines are full.
  3. Let it soak in for at least 15 minutes, then rinse well with clean water.
  4. If there are still visible stains, get a grout brush or a hard toothbrush (not an old one—that’s gross—but a new one that you’ll keep for this purpose.) Make a paste of oxygen bleach and water, and scrub the dirty grout lines. Again, rinse well.
Cleaning tile with a brush
Credit: Getty Images

Sometimes you have to get out a brush to dislodge dirt and grime.

That should make a big difference in the grout. Once it’s clean, you could have it sealed. But if you’re a renter, or you just don’t want to expend the effort on that, try adding a little oxygen bleach to your regular cleaning solution and swab it around from time to time. Always rinse well.

I also read that some people use vinegar to clean grout, but the acidity can be hard on grout and tile, so I’d skip the vinegar. Chlorine bleach can clean and disinfect, but the smell is noxious and any spills would damage fabric. Not my first choice.

And as for that famous person with the tile counter—she probably has a cleaning service. But maybe they clean her grout this way, too.

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