Clean your grout with the help of these simple DIY solutions.
There’s a lot of reasons why you might turn to a homemade grout cleaner instead of something bought off the shelf.
For one, many of those store bought products contain chemical ingredients, which aren’t the healthiest. They are also often heavily scented, which can cause irritation if you are sensitive to smells.
The great news is that you don’t have to rely on store bought products to remove stains from your shower grout.
There are so many great DIY recipes that are designed to clean grout and ceramic tile. These recipes often use natural, simple ingredients, so you can feel good about using them around your family and pets.
We’ve compiled a list of the best all-natural cleaners to get those grout lines clean and residue-free!
Homemade Grout Cleaners
A homemade grout cleaner can be made using ingredients you already have in your cupboard. We’ve compiled a list below of some of our favorite DIY grout cleaners.
1. Dish Soap
One excellent homemade grout cleaner is a product you already have and use everyday: dish soap!
Dish soap is classified as a detergent—a chemical substance that breaks up grease and dirt.
The reason it’s classified as a detergent is because dish soap contains surfactants, also known as “surface active agents”. It’s the surfactants that bond water to grease. And help loosen dirt so it can be washed away.
This dirt removing ability is not the only reason why this soap makes a good homemade grout cleaner. The pH of dish soap (and water) is a neutral level of 7.
So if you talk to any tile professionals, they will generally recommend that you clean grout with a neutral cleaner—especially for colored grout.
Step by Step
- Mix in a spray bottle.
- Double or triple the recipe if you’re cleaning a large area.
2. Oxygen Bleach
While neutral pH cleaners are often recommended for grout cleaning, a mild alkaline grout cleaner also works well if used properly.
Mild alkaline cleaners are cleaners with a pH of 8.5-10. One such alkaline cleaner that can be used on grout is oxygen bleach.
It’s important not to confuse oxygen bleach with chlorine bleach.
Chlorine bleach contains sodium hypochlorite as the active agent. And this is what you generally use to clean white clothes.
Oxygen bleach on the other hand uses sodium percarbonate as the active agent, which pulls stains without removing color.
Oxygen bleach is also a natural and eco-friendly compound, since it’s made from hydrogen peroxide and natural soda crystals. As a bonus, it will not only clean, but also disinfect whatever surface it is used on.
A great, safe cleaning choice for households with children and pets!
You can find oxygen bleach in powder form. So you just have to mix with water to form a paste.
Even though oxygen bleach isn’t meant to remove color, beware it can have adverse effects on colored grout.
To be safe, use this DIY solution only on white grout. And always check the product label before using.
If using dry powder oxygen bleach, follow product instructions and mix with water to create a thick paste.
3. Chlorine Bleach
Chlorine bleach is what we would classify as a high alkaline grout cleaner.
These types of cleaners have a pH of 12 or more. And are considered caustic cleaners. This type of grout cleaner is best reserved for situations where you need to deep clean stubborn grease or dirt.
If you have white grout with mildew or mold stains, chlorine bleach might be the solution for you.
As mentioned before, this type of grout cleaner will bleach colors, so definitely do not use on colored grout.
Chlorine bleach is a cleaner that also shouldn’t be used for regular grout cleaning. Over time, high alkaline cleaners can strip away the grout sealer. And allow moisture to penetrate the flooring.
Save chlorine bleach for heavy duty cleaning only. And stick to a neutral or mild alkaline homemade grout cleaner for regular cleaning.
If you choose to use bleach to clean your grout lines, regular household bleach will do. Since bleach fumes are strong, avoid using it in the presence of pets or children.
You should also wear a respirator, and open doors and windows to keep fresh air flowing through the room.
Step by Step
- Dilute bleach in water.
- And mix in a spray bottle.
4. Baking Soda
Like bleach, baking soda is an alkaline cleaner. It is also considered abrasive, since it is rough and gritty, rather than a liquid.
Even though it is alkaline, baking soda only has a pH of about 9, which is lower than bleach.
You likely already have baking soda in your house, so it’s an easy affordable way to clean grout naturally. It’s a popular tile cleaner for kitchens since the friction helps lift hardened food, stains and grease.
This friction works like a grout cleaning brush, which helps get the grout clean but also can cause unnecessary wear. Since it is so rough on surfaces, baking soda shouldn’t be used everyday when cleaning grout.
Grout generally doesn’t need friction to clean, and mild or mildly alkaline solutions can do the job just fine. If you do use baking soda for dirty grout, make sure it is rinsed well to avoid baking powder residue.
Step by Step
- Mix together to create a paste.
What to Avoid When Cleaning Grout
There are so many great DIY cleaning solutions out there. But many of them are not suitable for grout. Here are some products or solutions you should avoid when cleaning floor tiles and grout.
It might seem natural to reach for any detergents in your house when you need a homemade grout cleaner.
After all, liquid dish soap is recommended as a great DIY grout cleaner. But, not all household detergents are created the same. And certain detergents are not effective on grout.
Thick or highly concentrated cleaners like dishwashing detergent are difficult to rinse thoroughly. If you’ve ever spilled dishwashing detergent, you know how difficult it can be to clean up!
If you use dishwashing detergent to clean grout, it is likely to leave a residue. This residue can then attract and trap dirt, making your grout just as dirty as when you started cleaning.
For these reasons, dishwashing detergent (or any highly concentrated detergent, like laundry detergent) is not recommended to clean grout.
If there’s one type of cleaning product to avoid when it comes to grout and tile, it would be acidic cleaners.
In fact, the Tile Council of North America specifically advises against using acidic cleaners for dirty grout. To understand why, you need to understand what grout is made of.
Grout is composed mainly of cement and sand. Since sand is what makes up glass, it is relatively unaffected by acids or other harsh chemicals in cleaners.
Cement on the other hand is an alkaline product, and is actively dissolved by acids.
When you clean your dirty grout with an acid cleaner, it slowly breaks down the surface of the grout. Grout is naturally porous.
And when this top layer gets eaten away, it opens up the pores to bacteria and water. This leads to further breakdown of the grout. And eventually it will need to be redone by a professional.
Many DIY or homemade cleaners that you read about online or in books are in fact acidic.
- White vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Cream of tartar
When making a cleaner, also avoid products that include oxalic acid, sulfuric acid, sodium bisulfate, hydrochloric acid and muriatic acid.
It’s tempting to buy these products because they’re often advertised as being able to remove soap scum and hard water in bathrooms. The truth is that they will also eat away at your tile grout!
In fact, these products are usually used by professionals to remove bathroom grout when replacing flooring.
You want to have the opposite effect on your floors. So stick to a neutral or mildly alkaline homemade grout cleaner.
Colored or Dyed Cleaners
While more and more companies are trending towards dye-free and perfume-free cleaners, many cleaning products still contain artificial colors.
Colors like blues or greens which are often found in household cleaning products, can actually seep into the pores of grout.
This can lead to permanent staining and discoloration, especially on white grout. For these reasons, always opt for a dye-free and colorless homemade grout cleaner.
Grout Cleaning With Too Much Water
For stubborn stains and dirty tile grout, the first instinct you may have is to soak the floor to help lift the dirt. Just because water is free from chemicals and is a neutral pH, doesn’t mean it can’t cause damage.
By flooding your entire floor, you can cause the grout line to soak up too much water. This water will seep below your floor and can cause rot over time. It can also lead to the growth of mold and mildew.
To avoid these issues, always use just enough water to clean the floor. Any excess water or spills on your tile floors should always be mopped up as soon as possible to avoid damaging the tile and grout.