Guide to Care, Cleaning, and Maintenance of Grout

Home Improvement

From our Friends at First American Home Warranty

By Amy Thyr on August 13, 2018


Guide to Care, Cleaning, and Maintenance of Grout

Let’s face it, grout can be tough to clean. The problem is, grout maintenance takes time and effort. And many homeowners don’t know how to properly care for grout around kitchen, bathroom, and living room tiles, leading to problems down the road. Sealing grout is the most important thing you can do to keep it sanitary and avoid having it erode. With proper grout maintenance, care and cleaning is easier and grout will last for years to come.

Deep Cleaning Grout
Here are four different methods for cleaning grout. When cleaning it, be conscious of the color of the grout and spot test an area first. Wait overnight for grout to dry completely before applying sealant.

Method #1
Mix together ½ cup of baking soda, ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide, and 1 teaspoon of dish soap. Apply mixture to grout and wait 5-10 minutes. Scrub grout with toothbrush and wipe clean with warm water.


Grout Clean 2

Method #2
Sprinkle baking soda over grout. Add hydrogen peroxide to a spray bottle and spray over the baking soda until wet and bubbly; wait 5-10 minutes. Scrub grout with toothbrush and wipe clean with warm water.


Grout Clean 3

Method #3
Mix equal parts baking soda and white vinegar into a paste. Spread over grout and wait 5-10 minutes. Scrub grout with toothbrush and rinse with warm water.


Grout Clean 4

Method #4
Sprinkle Bon Ami (or Comet) over grout. Spray a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water over Bon Ami and wait 5-10 minutes. Scrub grout with toothbrush, cleaning brush regularly with water. Rinse grout thoroughly with warm water.


Grout Clean 5

After you’ve cleaned the grout with the method that works best for your home, you’ll need to reseal it. (Note: epoxy grouts don’t need to be sealed.) Choosing the right sealant depends on the job. For instance, surface sealants or coatings are not sufficient sealers in a bathroom. They need silicone, not water-based products. Your selection depends on several factors, such as the type of the grout, location, your intention, applying method, and budget.

Why Seal Grout?
Regular cleaning for good grout maintenance isn’t usually enough to prevent buildup of mold and bacteria. Because grout is porous, it traps dirt and is a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and fungus, so sealing it is a must. Properly applying a grout sealant protects the grout and helps keep you and your family healthy.

Apply grout sealant based on traffic or usage patterns. The tile floor in a living room may get a lot of traffic, but little moisture, whereas bathroom tile gets a lot of use and moisture, especially tile showers or tubs. Reseal grout once per year for these “hotspot” areas and also after you have deep cleaned your tile and grout. Low traffic or usage areas need resealing every 4-5 years to remain effective.

Different Types of Sealers
There are many types of sealant products and each offers different benefits depending on your objective for grout maintenance. Regardless of product type, sealants fall under one of three categories:

Color Sealers
Penetrating Sealers
Coatings are a thin layer on the grout surface so no oil, water, or dirt can penetrate the grout pores. There are two coatings available: permanent and strippable.

Permanent coatings are difficult to remove. They are made of epoxies, polyurethanes, and such. Because they are so difficult to remove, this type of product is not always recommended.

Strippable coatings are easier to remove from the grout’s surface. These are made of styrene, acrylics, polyethylene, and other polymers. Most are water based making removal easier to do. Check the label for acrylic, high speed, metal cross link, and so on.

Color sealers will bond to your grout, filling the pores, while keeping the same look and texture of your original grout. Color sealers will also allow you to change your grout from dark to light, or even light to dark.

Penetrating sealers are made to penetrate the grout surface and deposit particles that will protect the grout, preventing water and dirt from penetrating the grout. These types of sealers mostly contain silane, siloxane, silicone, or some other silicon derivative.


grout seal 1

grout seal 2

Depending on traffic patterns in your home, and general condition, when you keep up with grout maintenance, it can help your tiling and flooring sparkle for many years.


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