Cleaning Tile Grout isn't Always Possible

By: Jessica Deets

Frightening green and black stains jump out from behind the shower curtain each time it's pulled. You're afraid to have company over for fear they'll find the ugly truth hiding in the bathroom. Don't worry; you're not alone. A lot of bathrooms suffer from the horrors that are mold and mildew within the bathroom's grout. Sometimes with a bit of elbow grease you can make it go away. Other times the only way to end the horror show is to replace the grout.

Spotting what can be cleaned and what can't isn't terribly difficult. The key is in first giving the grout in your bathroom a very good spring cleaning. Since cleaning the tile and grout in the bathroom ranks up there with washing windows, it's very likely this hasn't been done in a while. So, it's also possible a good cleaning will be all it takes to make those stains go away.

Start out by giving your entire tile surface a very good cleaning. This means scrubbing every inch with a cleanser. When you're done, rinse and dry the tile slightly to remove excess water.

Now, take a look. Does your grout look any better? If so, great! Or, does it appear to be crumbling? If so, it might be time to actually replace it. This is another job all together, but one that can make your entire tiled area look new again, so it's more than worth considering.

If crumbling grout isn't present or is very minimal, but the stains remain, you can try other cleaning options for the grout itself. What comes next will involve harsher chemicals and fumes, so it's a good idea to put on some cleaning gloves, open a window and wear safety goggles and a mask, if possible.

There are many very good commercial grout cleaners on the market. It's a good idea to consider one of these to get the job done, particularly if the stains are bad. If you go this route, follow instructions to the letter. Don't cut corners.

Now, should you not want to invest in a commercial cleaner, you can try mixing bleach and water in a spray bottle. Use about a quarter of a cup of bleach to a quart of water. Spray the entire grout area down with the solution and wait at least 10 minutes for the bleach to do its job. Then come in and scrub the grout with a stiff brush to ensure most, if not all, of the stains are removed. Take care to rinse the area fully and keep the windows open until the fumes have subsided.

Once everything dries and the fumes have subsided in the bathroom, carefully inspect the grout. Did the cleaning do the trick? Does the grout look better? Or, does it still look like a science project gone horribly wrong?

If your grout is sparkling clean again, consider using a sealer to keep it that way. Should the grout still appear very stained and ugly after a cleaning, it is time to replace it. This job is bigger than a simple cleaning and sealing, but it may be a necessary evil.

Most homes have an issue with mold and mildew in the bathrooms. It's a simple fact of life considering the water and moisture presented in that particular room. With a bit of care and maintenance, however, a bathroom can be kept looking and smelling good. And, if cleaning is done on a regular basis the grout does not have to look awful.

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Jessica Deets has spent 4 years researching the internet and writes information to help people. You can find more resources about tile and grout at

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