Introduction: How to Easily Clean Grout to Get It Looking New Again!
Don't you just love the freshness of Spring? This Instructable will get your tile and grout looking spic 'n span to usher in the new season!
A few years ago Hubs offered to rip up our ugly white tile and replace it with new tile. It was a very tempting offer, but I didn't have the heart to send all that waste to landfill.
As much as I didn't love the floor, with its pink and blue wisps running through it, what I hated even more was the filthy looking grout and all the dirt it held. I thought that one day I would scrape all the grout out and replace it so it looked great again. But that never happened! Who has that kind of time - not to mention a strong back and the patience of Job? Not me. So I made do, and in the interim I fixed the chips in the tile - like I showed you in this Instructable.
Then Hubs found a miraculously quick and easy fix for the grout! It not only made it look good as new again in just a few hours, but disinfected the tile too! Watch the video above to see it in action for yourself, then read on for the 'Ible on how to do it!
- Steam cleaner (not to be confused with a carpet cleaner): hand held model (for grout and smaller cleaning jobs), heavy duty cleaner (can do tile and grout).*
- Microfibre cloths
- Cotton rags (or a white light colour microfibre cloth)
- Grout sealer
- Grout sealer bottle (applicator bottle used with grout sealer)
* We're using a commercial steam cleaning system in this 'Ible. Keep in mind that commercial units can also be rented if you don't want to purchase a consumer unit.
Step 1: Before You Start
No soap or suds required when you steam clean - just water!
We're using an industrial model that Hubs borrowed from work. Some steam cleaners are actually pretty powerful and have been known to “strip” the glazing on cheaper tiles. So before you get too excited about having new-looking grout again, test your own tile underneath an appliance first! If your tile holds up, you're good to go!
You can rent similar machines, or if you just want to clean the grout, you can buy a hand-held model for as little as $40.
Read the Instructions
Be sure to read the instructions for your own particular model before you start. We removed the tank cap, added water and plugged it in. Then we waited the recommended amount of time for the water to come to the correct pressure (ours had an indicator light to let us know it was ready).
Pay special attention when using this equipment that you don't accidentally depress the switch or aim the jet toward people of animals. For that reason, keep this out of the hands of kids; it's not a toy to be played with.
Vacuum floors to remove any loose debris first. This will save you using more micro cloths than necessary to catch the dirt.
Step 2: Disinfect
Mission clean floors was tackled in two stages: disinfection of the entire floor and then the grout.
To disinfect, Hubs used the floor attachment. He cut one of the microfibre cloths to size to fit. Then he wrapped it around and secured it in the clips.
If you can vacuum, you can have sparkling clean tile again too. The microfibre cloth will hold all the dirt it removes from the floor. The great thing about these cloths is that you can just toss them into the washing machine to clean and reuse them again.
Step 3: I'm Gonna Wash That Dirt Right Outa My Grout, and Send It on It's Way
This is the part that reminds me of this song in South Pacific. Just switch up the words or whistle to it as you work. Give it a listen and tell me that's not a catchy tune!
To lift all the dirt out of the grout just switch the floor attachment for a stiff brush tool such as the one you see above.
Just run the brush along each grout line while depressing the switch and the steam magically separates the grime from grout.
After all the years of calling Hubs my 'partner in grime' on our blog, I think this project embodies that best!
Step 4: Wipe It Up
Now take a cloth and wipe away years of buildup! If only reverse aging was as easy as this!
Depending on how dirty your grout is, you may have to repeat the process again until you're happy with the outcome. Use a white cotton rag or light coloured microfibre cloth if you want to be able to see when you're no longer pulling out dirt from the grout.
Step 5: Squeaky Clean
Look at the difference after just one pass. The grout on the top left side was steam cleaned and is back to its original silver grey colour. Compare that to the still-black grout section the arrow is pointing to (bottom right)!
Which one would you prefer? You probably don't really need to answer that one!
Step 6: Seal the Deal
Hubs and I are amazed at how much better the grout looks now! It looks like the tile was just laid!
Once the grout was clean again, Hubs let it dry then sealed it to keep it the way! The sealer we used was purchased at a local tile store. There are many good ones on the market (we used a VOC-free one). We also used an applicator bottle to apply the sealer; it has a wheel tip to help direct it and roll it right on the grout lines. Again, you can pick up a similar one at your local tile store or online.
Our tile runs throughout most of the main level. From the hall, to the kitchen, to the family room, that's a lot of tile surface. With the right decor and accessories to detract from the colour of the floor, the tile actually looks quite decent now. I'm happy I made the decision to keep the tile. It was the right choice for us - and for the environment!
Runner Up in the
Spring Cleaning Challenge