Restore your grout with steam
Steam cleaners do exactly what a traditional mop can’t. They target the interior of your tile grout and get rid of build-ups of grime and soap scum – using only steam.
Since grout is cement-based, this process won’t damage it – whether the grout is sealed or not. In fact, steam cleaning grout is recommended by the Tile Council of North America (TCNA).
Thanks to their nozzles and brass brushes, they scrub mold and mildew and return the grout to its original color.
You end up with a mix of dirty water and grime, that you simply have to rinse with a mop.
Here, you’ll learn everything you need to easily complete this chore and how to use steam to clean your grout.
How Often to Steam Clean Grout
This will mostly depend on how busy your household is: whether it includes pets and/or children, how much traffic there is over your floors, how often the shower is used, how much cooking you do, etc.
But for a quieter household, steam cleaning grout might be needed just once a year.
And if you’ve got a really busy home then you might need to get your steam cleaner out twice a year. This will keep your grout clean and reduce the need for more maintenance in the future.
Before You Begin
You can follow this process for grout on any type of grout: whether it’s on your bathroom, kitchen floor, or on your shower walls.
Tile grout is the same, even though it’s vertical rather than horizontal on your flooring. The only difference might be in access to your shower.
To steam clean shower grout, simply make sure that your steam cleaner has a long handle.
Then, hold the nozzle or brush attachment parallel to the shower walls. This will aim the steam directly onto the shower tile.
What You’ll Need
01 Clean and Prepare the Tiles
For tile flooring, start by a thorough clean with a normal vacuum cleaner. This will get rid of loose excess dirt particles and any larger bits of debris like sand or gravel.
Next, damp mop the tiles with your mop.
For wall tiles, sponge clean. You can just use water, a mild detergent or soap if you like. Then, rinse.
02 Get the Steam Cleaner Ready
Fill the water tank or reservoir of the steam cleaner, and detach the handheld unit. Turn it on and wait for it to heat up.
To get the most powerful steam, select the “scrub” option on the cleaner. Or for some models such as a commercial steam cleaner, pick the highest steam level as you want a really high heat.
Next, attach the long hose attachment to the steam cleaner. And from your accessories, choose which will give you the best results on your tile grout.
03 Start Steam Cleaning the Grout
Apply steam to every square inch of your dirty grout. This should be done in a steady and systematic way so that every grout line is covered.
You’ll start to see that the heat of the steam alone can break up even tough build-ups of mold, grime, and soap scum.
For areas where there are really stubborn build-ups, replace the steam nozzle with a small brush for scrubbing. Aim the steam at these areas and scrub at the same time.
You should see the original color of your grout return very quickly.
If you still have grime to remove, replace the nylon bristle brush with a brass bristle brush. They’re more aggressive and so ideal for any gunk accumulations that are really stuck on.
Use the brass brush with your steam cleaner and repeat the grout cleaning process of moving over each area that needs extra attention.
But be careful with this attachment as the brass bristles might damage some types of tile. So only use it where needed and gently scrub without applying too much pressure.
04 Wipe Tiles Down and Allow to Dry
Thanks to your steam cleaner, your floor tiles and shower tiles will be clean, sanitized, and deodorized all in one go. This means that you don’t need to rinse your tile floor or shower.
They should dry quickly without leaving any excess residue or moisture.
However, if there is excessive dirt, finish your grout cleaning process by using a microfiber cloth. For this, wipe the cloth over all the surfaces. Let the area dry.
05 Seal Your Grout
If your grout is unsealed, it’s more likely to get embedded dirt and discoloration. This is why it’s always a good idea to seal unsealed grout as soon as possible.
Act quickly, within 24 hours max after the grout has been applied. This way you know your floor isn’t left unprotected and exposed to dirt and oil.
If you decide to seal your grout, pick from two types of sealer. Each has benefits and disadvantages:
- The first is a penetrating sealer, which repels water and anything water-based by chemically bonding with the grout.
- The second is a topical sealer. This coats the grout’s surface and repels almost everything that your grout might be exposed to – but they are gradually worn away by foot traffic over your tile flooring.
You’ll need to re-apply this grout sealer frequently – at least once a year.
What To Do When Steam Cleaning Isn’t Enough?
Call a Professional
A professional can more effectively remove stains from your tile and grout and make it look like new again with its natural color back. They usually use professional tools such as a professional steam cleaner.
A professional grout cleaner can also apply a color seal to your grout lines. This will offer protection to your grout and lessen the amount of embedded dirt and mold that can get into it.
You can also get advice from a professional on what cleaning products are best suited for your grout like these grout removal tools.
Use a Grout Colorant
You can buy a grout colorant from some grout manufacturers. Or, the manufacturers might recommend brands that make stains that’ll work on their grout.
However, grout stains will work best on unsealed grout. If your grout is sealed or has been cleaned with oil-based soaps such as Pine-Sol or Murphy’s Oil, you’ll face issues to color it.
Colorants are epoxy-based and designed specifically to penetrate into your grout. They’ll seal the grout surface with a permanent color. Once you’ve colored your grout with a stain, you don’t need to seal it with anything else.
In any case, test a small area first with a grout colorant. It won’t look the same once applied.
Make sure you like the color before you apply it to all of your shower walls or ceramic tiles.
Replace the Grout
Be careful if you opt for this choice – you don’t want to loosen or damage your tiles.
Usually, you can’t put new grout over the old lines without cutting it out first. If there are mold or dirt particles still on the old grout, these might prevent the new grout from being applied properly.