The Cheapest, Easiest, and Most Effective Way to Clean Grout

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  October 3, 2013 — 14 Comments

Last week I posted about the stained, dingy grout in my downstairs bath and asked for tips on how best to clean it. My goal is to get it white enough to seal, and since this room is on the large side as far as bathrooms go I need something that is relatively easy and inexpensive to implement. Well, you all did not disappoint! I’ve spent the last week implementing your suggestions in a very scientific and well-organized tournament-style experiment. Realistically, I just put down a piece of painter’s tape every five tiles and wrote a different technique to try on each one.¬†First, the losers. Most of these worked alright, but not well enough to tackle years worth of grime.

Barkeeper’s Friend: Better, but not good enough. In person it was still pretty dingy.

bkpf (370x570)

Oxyclean: I love this stuff for laundry but for hard surfaces it disappoints. I dissolved a pretty strong combination in water and tried scrubbing it with both a grout brush and a magic eraser. Even if it did work well it still wouldn’t have been my preferred technique because if you don’t rinse away every last trace it dries with a white film.

oxyclean (370x570)

Baking Soda + Oxyclean Paste: my problem with anything pasty is that it’s a pain to clean up afterwards, as evidenced by the pile of caked up powder pushed off to the side of this photo. The area directly above the painter’s tape is where I’d applied it and you can see that it didn’t make a huge difference.

bsoc paste (570x373)

Lemon Juice, Baking Soda, and Salt: another paste that was just alright. Nothing to write home about.

oc, ljbss, hp (570x380)

The big winner was actually discovered by accident. One commenter suggested spraying on hydrogen peroxide and letting it sit, while another suggested simply scrubbing with a magic eraser (I assume using plain water since that’s typical magic eraser protocol). During one of my cleaning sessions I spritzed some HP onto the area labeled as such, then moved down a few feet to the area marked “magic eraser” and started scrubbing. I hadn’t accounted for my sloping floors and thus the HP ran downhill to where I was scrubbing but hark! Turns out they’re a veritable dream team.

hpme1 (570x380)

Look at the huge difference here.

hpme2 (570x380)

I was so excited that I made a video! But by then my magic eraser was almost dead and the results weren’t quite as stunning as they had been earlier. I’m headed to the grocery store this afternoon and will stock up on enough cheapo store brand magic erasers to scrub the whole house down.

I’m pretty sure this is the first time ever in my adult life that I’ve bought hydrogen peroxide. Turns out it’s super cheap and non-toxic! I remember my mom pouring it over scraped knees and elbows when I was little, but I’d honestly never thought to use it for cleaning until a commenter suggested it. There are still a few dark spots, but the overall effect is quite impressive. After I get the whole room done I’ll assess whether to tackle the remaining stains or to seal it as-is. The idea of sealing in dirty spots makes me twitch but geez, how much scrubbing can I do? I wonder if I could use those grout painting or coloring kits to just touch up here and there before sealing? If I ever find myself in a place to make decisions about tile jobs I am so going with white tiles and dark grout (like this!). White grout is just not practical for people like us!

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap

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14 responses to The Cheapest, Easiest, and Most Effective Way to Clean Grout

  1. My co-worker said she used the Clorox bleach pen and drew that on the grout, let it sit for a few minutes, and then washed it off. I thought that was pretty brilliant.

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap October 4, 2013 at 9:44 am

      Maybe I should give that a try! I’ve tried applying bleach with a q-tip but it did nothing.

  2. This is an awesome floor and worth every effort you are making to spiff it up. The only thing with magic erasers and grout is that the grout eats up the magic eraser. I too buy from the dollar store and get a bag of erasers at one time. As always, I love your blog. Hugs to you and Jack and a brisk salute to Nick. (although I would love a big hug from that good looking young man, I don’t think he would appreciate it too much)

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap October 4, 2013 at 9:45 am

      I’ll have to look for magic erasers at the dollar store! You are so sweet and rest assured that Nick would not mind hugging you at all! He’s cuddly for a big guy.

  3. Thanks so much for testing all these methods! I have some grout that needs cleaning, and now I know exactly what method to try.

    Have you decided what grout sealing product to use? Last time I was at Home Depot, I saw some that promised to clean AND seal the grout and some that just sealed it. I got confused and didn’t make any decisions. I’d love to hear what you decide to use and how well it works!

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap October 4, 2013 at 9:46 am

      I haven’t even looked at sealers yet! Cleaning and sealing in one step makes me nervous though–what if it doesn’t get it clean enough?

  4. I think I was one of the hydrogen peroxide commenters! I’m so glad this worked for you. I LOVE HP as a thrifty housewife — it works for so many stains. I love using it for those set-in food stains on kid clothes most of all — it gets rid of some of the most persistent ones. Not to mention that it’s great on the carpet! We have spraybottles of it all around the house.

    • What kind of carpet stains did you use the HP on? We have pet stains on our carpet and they drive me batty and I haven’t found something yet that works great. And some of our stains are even weird, for being a pet stain. Like our dog ate something that was red and then uuumm… He decided to poop red poop on our carpet. (Is it weird of me to go into so much detail about that here??? Haha hope not)

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap October 4, 2013 at 9:47 am

      I think you were! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it for cleaning before! I will have to give it a try on laundry! I have been known to spend days soaking an outfit in oxyclean to get out food stains, even if the outfit came from the thrift store in the first place!

  5. The competitor in me is kinda bummed about my suggestion not winning! But I’m glad you found a method that works!

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap October 7, 2013 at 9:32 am

      Haha Carnisha, I actually thought about that when I was trying them all out! Sorry to disappoint!

  6. Wow! I’m so glad you found something that worked after all those trials! That is a hella lot of grout!!

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap October 7, 2013 at 9:34 am

      It is a LOT of grout. I’ve started thinking that maybe I should do the kitchen/laundry next but I get overwhelmed at the thought!

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