How to Clean Floor Tile Grout: A Complete Guide

Audrey Bruno
Written by Audrey Bruno
Updated October 12, 2022
A father and his daughter dancing in a floor tiled kitchen
Photo: Biz Jones / Image Source / Getty Images

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If you have tile floors or tiled backsplash in any room of your home, chances are you have grout lines susceptible to dirt, mold, and mildew. Though “deep clean days” aren’t everyone’s idea of fun, they’re necessary. 

If left untreated, dirty grout lines can build up over time, leaving an unsightly and hard-to-clean mess. Luckily, we’ll show you how to clean floor tile grout so you can restore your tile to its original shine.

What Kind of Floor Tile Grout Do I Have?

To determine how to clean the grouting in your home, it’s helpful to know which of the four main types of grout you have. 

  • Sanded grout: Sanded is one of two types of cement grout—the other being unsanded grout. The sand added to this grout makes it stronger, which is why sanded grout works well in grout joints larger than ⅛ inch wide. You should seal sanded grout upon application as it’s known to attract dirt and be absorbent.

  • Unsanded grout: This is essentially a cement grout with no sand—made of water, cement, and non-sand particles. This grout type is ideal for grout joints less than ⅛ inch wide. However, it can become weak and shrink due to the lack of abrasive particles, which can lead to exposed grout lines.

  • Epoxy grout: Among the different grout variations, epoxy grout is a fan favorite due to its durability and less porous composition, making it more stain-resistant. It’s made with epoxy resin, and its strength makes it ideal for areas of higher traffic, such as hallways, kitchens, and bathrooms. Epoxy grout tends to maintain its color, and it doesn’t need a grout sealer. 

  • Furan grout: This type of grout is highly resistant to wear and tear, along with high temperatures and strong chemicals. Furan grout is more expensive than epoxy and cementitious grouts and takes longer to install, but it’s used in industrial and residential settings. 

How Much Does It Cost to Clean Floor Tile Grout? 

The cost of supplies to clean floor tile grout on your own ranges from $30 to $36.

How to Prep for Cleaning Grout

There are a handful of things you need to do and gather before you can start cleaning your tiles and grout. 

Determine What Kind of Grout You Have

To find out what kind of grout you have, start by touching it. It’s unsanded if it’s rough and hard. If it’s smooth and hard, it’s sanded. 

If it’s smooth but not quite hard, you could be dealing with either epoxy or furan. Try poking it with a sharp knife, and if it gives, it’s one of those two options. Fortunately, they can be cleaned in roughly the same way.

Make a DIY Grout Cleaning Solution

No commercial grout cleaner on hand? No problem. Your kitchen cabinets may hold more useful ingredients than you’d expect. However, keep in mind that chlorine bleach, should you choose to use it, should only be applied to white grout. Otherwise, it can pull the coloring of tinted grout. 

  • Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide: Combine ¾ cup of baking soda with ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide and one tablespoon of gentle dish soap to form a spreadable paste.

  • Lemon juice and cream of tartar: Form a thick paste out of two teaspoons of cream of tartar and lemon juice. Spray the grout with hydrogen peroxide before applying the paste.

  • Water and baking soda: Create a paste out of equal parts water and baking soda. Spray the grout with hydrogen peroxide before layering on the paste. 

Gather the Necessary Tools and Supplies

Not in the mood to make your own solution? Look for a commercial cleaning solution that suits your set-up. Make sure that it’s designed for the kind of grout you have (whether that’s sanded or epoxy) and apply according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Along with a cleaning solution, grab a mop, a scrub brush (an old toothbrush will also work), and protective gear like goggles and gloves if you’re working with strong chemicals. Additional tools like sponges and microfiber cloths can also make the process easier. 

Sweep and Vacuum the Area

Make sure your surface is clean and clear of dust and debris before cleaning floor tile grout. Use a broom or a vacuum cleaner to clear away the surface of the grout.

How to Clean Floor Grout Based on Type

Since grout is made from different materials, there isn’t a universal cleaning technique. Though each option has a different set of needs, most can be cared for in similar ways. 

Sanded Grout

  1. Use a scrub brush to coat grout lines with a cleaning solution. Make sure to coat evenly to ensure the results are evenly colored. 

  2. Let soak for 15 to 30 minutes. 

  3. Scrub to remove dirt, rinse with water, and mop. Use your usual floor cleaner to remove residue and clean up your tile. Let it dry completely.

Unsanded Grout

  1. Coat grout in an alkaline cleaning solution with either a scrub brush or a spray bottle. 

  2. Let it soak for 15 to 30 minutes. 

  3. Scrub to remove dirt, rinse with water, and mop. 

Epoxy Grout

  1. Make a cleaning solution of equal parts bleach and water to remove blemishes from white or clear epoxy grout. If you’re trying to preserve the color of your epoxy grout, opt for one of the gentler solutions recommended above. 

  2. If you’re using a bleach and water mixture, apply to the grout with a mop or spray bottle (wearing protective goggles as necessary). Otherwise, apply other cleaning solutions with a scrub brush. 

  3. Let the solution soak for 10 to 15 minutes. 

  4. Rinse the area completely and let dry. Because epoxy isn’t as durable as cement-based grouts, excessive scrubbing can damage it. Instead, all it needs is a quick rinse after soaking in the cleaning solution. 

Furan Grout

  1. Coat grout in a non-bleach-based cleaning solution with a spray bottle, scrub brush, or mop (depending on tile type). 

  2. Let the solution soak in for 10 to 15 minutes before scrubbing. 

  3. Scrub to remove dirt, mop, and let dry. 

How to Clean Floor Grout Based on Tile

A hand scrubbing with a brush the grout on floor tiles
Photo: wattanaphob / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

It’s also important to consider your tile material when caring for your grout. Certain types of tile can resist just about anything and everything, whereas others are more delicate and don’t react well with strong chemicals. 

Ceramic, Porcelain, and Glass

These three tile materials are popular because they are durable. They can withstand strong chemicals and don't need to be treated gently to look their best. If your tile falls into one of these three categories, you’re safe to use any of the homemade cleaning solutions we recommend. 

Natural Stone

On the other hand, natural stone tile materials like marble, granite, and slate are extremely sensitive to strong chemicals. Cleaning solutions with bleach or other acidic ingredients can cause these stones to warp, crack, and even change color. Stick with alkaline cleaning solutions when cleaning the grout between these types of tiles. 

3 Tips for Maintaining Floor Tile Grout

Now that your grout is bright and stain-free, here’s how to keep it looking that way for the foreseeable future. 

1. Regularly Clean Floors With Rubbing Alcohol

To prevent future build-up of dirt and mold and to make for easier cleanup, regularly clean your grout and tiles by applying a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto a cloth or towel and wipe them down. The alcohol will kill off the bacteria and work to keep your grout and tiles looking fresh and new.

2. Cover High-Traffic Areas With Rugs

Without proper protection, grout in high-traffic areas will stain more quickly. Cover up these zones with area rugs to ensure they don’t get dirty as quickly. Plus, area rugs are a great way to add a pop of color to your room.

3. Vacuum and Sweep Often

The more time debris has to linger on the floor, the more likely it is to be stepped on and squashed into the grout. Sweep and vacuum several times a week to prevent this from happening. In fact, you should add these tasks to your house cleaning checklist.

DIY Grout Cleaning vs. Hiring a Pro

Cleaning grout is a fairly simple DIY project that costs $30 to $36 for supplies. But if you're busy or want to spend less time scrubbing the floor, you can hire a local house cleaner. Most house cleaning pros charge $30 to $50 per hour. Plus, you should specify to your house cleaning professional how often you’d like them to clean the floor tile grout.

Frequently Asked Questions

White vinegar will damage tile grout if the grout is not sealed or needs resealing. If that’s the case, the vinegar will wear away the grout over time. 

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