How to Use a Steam Cleaner for Grout

By Gladys K. Connelly Updated December 20, 2020

You don't need to scrub anymore.

How to Use a Steam Cleaner for Grout

Ceramic tiles are durable, come in a variety of patterns, types, and colors and easily adapt to any living space.

One of the downsides to ceramic tiles grout though is that it tends to get very dirty very quickly.

Fortunately,  steam cleaners help make this task much simpler.

Throughout this article, you’ll learn how to use a steam cleaner for grout to effectively clean it and make it shine.



1.Clean the Tiles First

You didn’t think you could start directly on the grout, did you?

Honest mistake.

The best thing to do is start by cleaning a specific area where you will later steam clean. This will ensure you get rid of all the grit, dirt, goo, and gunk that will frustrate your steam cleaning endeavor later on.

Plus, excess soap scum or dirt can clog up the cleaner’s brush.

If you’re cleaning floor tiles, sweep and damp-mop first. If it’s walls you want to clean, sponge-clean them using gentle detergent and rinse.

2.Set Up the Steam Cleaner

It’s time to fill it up! Grab some water and fill the steam cleaner.

Turn the unit on and set it to “steam” as per the instructions. It will typically take a few minutes to start creating steam.

As directed in the instructions, attach the hose to the cleaner. Make sure you choose an appropriate brush size depending on your tile type and grout, always following the recommendations from the manufacturer.

Start with the nylon-bristle brush. It will effectively remove most grout and prevent damage to the tile.

For hard and willful dirt, change to a brass-bristle brush; be aware that these brushes might easily damage the tile in some way.

3.Scrubbing & Steaming

Turn the steam on and set it on the recommended spray rate.

Practice back and forth strokes directly on the grout to scrub it.

It’s important that you work one section at a time. Once it’s completely clean, move on to the next area and do the same.

If you’re scrubbing walls, make sure you work from the top down. This ensures the dirty water runs downward and not into cleaned areas.

4.Rinse & Repeat

Once you finish a specific area, stop scrubbing to mop/rinse the clean section. It is essential to clean up dirty water. You don’t want it to settle back into the grout and dry.

Continue to refill and reheat the steam as needed. Continue the process until you achieve a sparkling grout.

Finish off by cleaning the entire area.


Why Should I Purchase a Steam Cleaner To Clean Grout?

If you’ve ever cleaned the grime, grease, and dirt out of your grout, you certainly know how a clean grout radically shifts the appearance of the walls and floors.

Of course, you can achieve a clean grout by using small brushes and tons of severe cleaning chemicals(1). However, some of these abrasive chemicals will erode the grout and discolor sections of it.

A great alternative is the steam cleaner. Not only is a steam cleaner(2) more efficient, but it’s also environmentally friendly and mess-free.

Also, it makes it much simpler to restore your grout to its original color.

Unlike steam mops, the high heat, gentle pressure and low moisture on a steam cleaner, will force dirt out of the grout and bring it to your tile’s surface.

The best part? You can purchase a steam cleaner with an extraction feature built-in.

All you need is to use 2 extension tubes, and some operators will function in a standing position on floors and ceilings as well.

So that’s for theory.

In practice, I will tell you about my experience of working as a housekeeping employee in a Best Western hotel. I started in 2008 when the use of steam cleaner had not yet been democratized.

So I only had my sponge and my bucket to clean grout. At the end of each guest’s stay, I had to make sure that the grouts were impeccable because that’s what can ruin a hotel’s reputation.

However, the cleaning was tedious, long and I had to bend down a lot.

A few years later, the hotel equipped us with a steam cleaner. It changed my daily working life. In a blow of vapor, the grout was shining (Beware though: you need a special attachment like a copper grout brush). I then used this kind of device for years without getting tired of it.

Of course, I was using professional steam cleaner but you can find similar models for home use on the market today.

Are Steam Cleaners Powerful Enough To Clean Grout?

Yes, steam cleaners can powerfully and efficiently clean your grout. They make the work much easier and quicker to an otherwise arm-killing and tedious job.

A steam cleaner will heat water to over 200° F and have handy nozzles that specifically direct steam blasts onto the grout.

Depending on the model, some nozzles include brass brushes or special nylon designed for grout cleaning and scrubbing while steaming.

After you’re done steaming, this creates a dirty pool of water and grime you can easily mop, rinse, or extract.

Why Does Grout Get Dirty So Quickly?

You may have asked yourself this question while on your knees about a dozen times.

The truth is, when installed, the tile grout was forced between each tile which helps stabilize and level the tiles.

Cleaning tile? A piece of cake.

But the grout is not only leveled lower than the tile, but it is also much more porous and absorbs all sorts of debris and sand into it daily.

Yes, it may happen every single day.

In showers and tubs, for instance, this goo is hardened by mineral scale, soap scum, and grime in general, as well as mold resulting from the moist environment.

On tile flooring in other areas of the home, grime in grout will generally consist of embedded dirt and may even contain detergent debris.

Due to the porous nature of grout, this gunk will work itself into the pores. And over time, progressively become more difficult to remove with regular cleaning.

Sometimes, even scrubbing forcefully with sturdy brushes. Using machines and powerful cleaners may not produce the satisfactory results you may have hoped for.

Steam cleaning, on the other hand, remains to be the most effective. It uses the power of steam and scrubbing without the need for hazardous detergents and chemicals.

How to Choose a Steam Cleaner

If you’re on the market for a brand new steam cleaner, you will find tons of options and designs. You can get a general-purpose steam cleaner that heats water past its boiling point in no time and maintains the steam running for 30 minutes approximately.

If you’re looking for a bathroom wall tile steam cleaner, make sure you purchase a multi-purpose, canister steam cleaner.

It’s important you note that several steam cleaners are floor-only and will not function well in bathtub or shower tiles. Multi-purpose steam cleaners will count on attachments for different surface cleaning.

You can even rent steam cleaners at home centers and other rental outlets.

Note that most rental cleaners are suitable for tile, however, be sure to ask the rental store to ensure you count on the right brushes for grout cleaning.

Can I Use Steam Cleaner on Unsealed And Sealed Grout?

The great thing about steam cleaning grout is that you can also deep cleaner unsealed and sealed grout without damaging the sealer. As soon as you’ve cleaned and restored your grout and it’s looking great, it’s best to keep it this way by sealing it with a grout sealer.These will come in two types: topical and penetrating. Both have their ups and downs, so be sure to compare your options corresponding to your tile type.

Keep in mind that some sealers may affect the sheen and color of the grout.

Read the instructions thoroughly to choose the most fitting sealer for you.

Now It’s Your Turn…

I hope you found my guide on how to steam clean your grout helpful. 

Now I would like to hear from you…

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

About the Author

Gladys K. Connelly

As a HouseKeeping Technical Writer, Gladys actively enjoys writing guides and tips about housekeeping for Thehousewire's audience. She's a housekeeping specialist with just shy of 9 years' experience to boast. That, combined with seven years prior experience in teaching, helps her create content that is both captivating and insightful.

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