Complete Guide to Tile and Grout Cleaning

By Tara Sebolt

While tile can add aesthetic appeal to your home, its downside is that it requires frequent cleanings to keep dirt and grime from accumulating. If you have tile in your home, you know how much work it is to scrub the grout.

However, you don’t have to block off your Saturday for scrubbing all the tile and grout in your home. With a little preventative maintenance—about a half hour each week—you can reduce the buildup on your tiles. These simple tile and grout cleaning tips will give you the best methods and products for tile and grout cleaning.

Why tile and grout requires upkeep

Tile floors, counters, and showers stick to floors and walls because of tile adhesive. Grout is a coarse mortar used to fill in the gaps between tiles. As it hardens, it becomes a porous surface between your tiles. This allows dirt and grime to get into the grout’s pores and makes it difficult to clean.

Nothing dulls the look of tiles like dirty grout, which is commonly light tan or white. Tile and grout cleaning is the process of removing dirt and bacteria on the surface of the tiles and in the pores of the grout. Depending on how much grime has built up, the cleaning process might take a lot of scrubbing to remove the dirt.

How often do tile and grout need to be cleaned?

Keeping tiles and grout clean is an ongoing chore. Tile floors quickly pick up dirt from pets, shoes, and spills. Shower tiles accumulate soap buildup each time someone bathes. To stay ahead of the grime, tile and grout cleaning should be done once a week.

Water damage to tile and grout

Most of the time, you should be able to clean tile and grout yourself. However, any time you have water damage beneath your tiles, you may want to hire a professional restoration and cleaning company. Standing water from a flooded room or slow leaking pipes behind your shower walls can quickly create bigger issues than dirty grout.

Mold, bacteria, and structural or electrical issues from water damage can harm you and your family. After water damage, a restoration company can help you ensure your home is safe. The company will inspect the damage, clean any affected areas, and repair the damage.

Details of an old, dry and unused faucet on white bathroom tiles.

How to clean bathroom tiles

The biggest issue for bathroom tiles is mold and bacteria. You may notice a pinkish hue on the grout of your shower tiles. Known as “pink mold,” this slimy substance is actually bacteria called Serratia marcescens. Mildew and mold spores are also commonly found on shower tiles and other bathroom surfaces.

Mold thrives in damp, dark places, making your bathroom a great habitat for fungus. Mold is known to cause a variety of health issues. While some people never have adverse reactions to mold, others react with respiratory issues. You may experience wheezing, throat irritation, or nasal stuffiness.

To help stop mold from growing in your bathrooms, follow these steps to tile and grout cleaning for bathroom tiles.

  1. Using your favorite bathroom cleaner, scrub down shower tiles and any other tiled surfaces in your bathroom. This will remove the first layer of grime, including soap scum, from your tile.
  2. Give your tile and grout a soak with your preferred bathroom cleaner and let sit for five to 10 minutes. Take care to apply your cleaner to areas with heavy buildup. Don’t use bleach for cleaning grout, as it’s corrosive to the porous surface of your grout.
  3. After five to 10 minutes, scrub your tiles and grout using a sponge. When the sponge is no longer effective, switch to a toothbrush or cotton swab to get the grout between your tiles. If you find stubborn spots, reapply your cleaner and keep scrubbing.
  4. Rinse your shower and bathroom tile with hot water to remove excess cleaning products and grime.
  5. Dry as much as you can. Tile and grout cleaning won’t do much good if you leave the area damp, allowing more mold to grow.

How to clean tile floors

If you have tile floors in your home, you know how quickly dirt can accumulate. While you probably won’t find mold on well-used tile floors, you may face stained grout from mud and spills. These easy steps allow you to keep your tile flooring looking great.

  1. Sweep and vacuum loose dust, dirt, and debris from the floor.
  2. Target the most heavily stained tiles and grout areas first. Use your preferred tile floor cleaner or scouring product to help loosen dirt and stains. Note that the type of tile you have may be prone to scratches if not properly sealed. Scrub stains from spills or mud, such as muddy dog paw prints, with a cleaning cloth.
  3. Take an old toothbrush and put down a grout cleaner. You can buy products specifically for grout or make your own natural cleaner.
  4. Mop your floor using a tile floor cleaner. Since you’ve first cleaned the grout, mopping will take care of the leftover staining on the tiles. Be sure to regularly change your mop water, so you don’t end up spreading dirt around.
Two caucasian male hands cleaning kitchen grout of an old, dirty tile floor with environmentally friendly hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and a scrub brush.

Easy tile and grout maintenance

Maintenance goes a long way in keeping tile and grout clean. By spending a few minutes each week reducing grime buildup on your tile, you can avoid hours of scrubbing later.

Bathroom tile and grout maintenance

You already know that bathrooms are prone to mold and mildew. The key to maintaining clean tile and grout in your bathroom is reducing moisture in the air and on the tile.

Maintenance Task How Often
Squeegee shower walls and wipe down wet surfaces to remove condensation from showering. After everyone in the house has showered each day
Leave the vent fan or a bathroom window open to help reduce moisture. Usually, 20–30 minutes is enough time to help dry the bathroom. After every shower
Open the shower curtain or shower door to allow air to move into the shower. After every shower
Spray walls of the shower with a diluted homemade or store-bought cleaner. This helps kill mold spore and bacteria before they can form. Two to three times a week
Wipe shower walls, doors, and other tile surfaces with a clean sponge. Once a week
Give your grout a quick scrub with a soft-bristled brush. Once a week

Tile floor maintenance

The biggest way to stay ahead of dirt buildup on your tile flooring is regular sweeping and vacuuming. Sweep your tile floor once every day or every other day. A quick once-over with the broom can greatly reduce hair, dirt, and other debris.

Likewise, vacuum your tile floor frequently. If possible, you should vacuum after sweeping every couple of days. Don’t have time to vacuum daily? Make sure to vacuum at least once a week to cut down on dirt buildup.

Woman wearing rubber gloves using steam cleaner to brighten up balcony tiles

Products to use for tile and grout cleaning

There are a few products you’ll need for proper grout and tile cleaning. Even if you choose to make your own natural tile cleaner, you’ll want to have sponges, cleaning cloths, and other cleaning supplies. Check out the best floor cleaner for tile and grout as well as other top tile cleaning products.

Miracle Sealants Tile and Stone Cleaner

Price: $26.31/gallon

Customer rating: 4.2/5 stars

Miracle Sealants TSC GAL SG Tile and Stone Cleaner, 1 gal Bottle

Rubbermaid Reveal Power Scrubber

Price: $15.99

Customer rating: 3/5 stars

Rubbermaid Reveal Power Scrubber

Skylarlife Home Mold & Mildew Remover

Price: $12.99/4 oz

Customer rating: 4.3/5 stars

Skylarlife Home Mold & Mildew Remover Gel Stain Removal

DuPont Heavy Duty Tile & Grout Cleaner

Price: $9.93/24 oz.

Customer rating: 4.2/5

DuPont Heavy Puty Tile & Grout

Swiffer Sweeper Day and Wet Floor Mopping Starter Kit

Price: $17.08

Customer rating: 3/5 stars

Swiffer Dry and Wet

Professional tile and grout cleaning

Although tile and grout cleaning takes a fair amount of elbow grease, you should be able to complete almost any tile cleaning project yourself. Sticking to a maintenance plan for your tile and grout will cut down on how often you need to completely clean your tile.

However, you may have seen ads or heard about tile cleaning as part of professional cleaning services. While you probably don’t need a professional tile cleaning service to come into your home every week, many homeowners find it beneficial once or twice a year.

What to expect from professional tile and grout cleaning

A professional tile and grout cleaning company uses motored spin brushes and other specialized tools to give your grout a deep scrub. The technicians will decide what types of cleaners and equipment are best for your tile. They’ll use professional grout cleaning machines and commercial-strength cleaners to get into the pores of your grout where elbow grease cannot.

The cost for tile and grout cleaning by a professional company will vary based on which company you choose, what services you need, if you choose to add a sealant, and how many rooms need to be cleaned. Prices can also vary based on your location.

What to look for in a professional tile and grout cleaning service

If you decide to hire a professional cleaning company for a yearly tile and grout cleaning, remember to complete your due diligence when choosing a company. Common questions to ask include:

  • How big is the company? Is it a national cleaning service, a local service, or an individual company?
  • Does the cleaning company supply cleaning products and tools, or will the technicians need to borrow your mop?
  • Does the company have customer reviews or references from past clients?
  • Is the company insured?

Cleaning tile and grout can be back-breaking if you let dirt and grime build up for too long. Reduce your tile cleaning needs by taking a few minutes each week to properly maintain your showers, bathroom tile, and tile flooring.

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