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Get your grout sparkling clean with these pro tips

“Cleaning is the first step to preventing the mildew from ever establishing."
Vivian Le / TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

Stained grout can really sneak up on you. One minute you’re loving the fresh white grout in your picture-perfect bathroom and the next you’re wondering, "When did my bathroom start looking like the New York City subway?"

Thankfully, we spoke to experts on the subject — The Grout Guy, Brian McAuliffe and Vera Peterson, president of Molly Maid. They gave some useful tips that will have your bathroom looking like new in no time!

Why is grout so difficult to clean? | What do the professionals use? | How to clean grout without damaging tile | How to clean grout with baking soda and vinegar | How to clean grout with bleach | How to clean grout with hydrogen peroxide | How to clean grout with lemon | The best products to clean tile grout

Why is grout so difficult to clean?

Grout is made up of sand particles, making it easy for liquids to pass through and dirt to collect on the surface. According to McAuliffe, there’s actually a simple solution to keep your grout from staining in the first place.

“Cleaning is the first step to preventing the mildew from ever establishing. Water in the bathroom may evaporate but dirt does not and soap film is the biggest culprit as the dirt clings to the scum left on the grout. The key is to clean your tile two to three times a week with a cleaning product that is made for removing soap scum,” McAuliffe says.

Some great products are available at your local grocery store and do a decent job at fighting soap scum, like dish soap, Clorox Bathroom Cleaner and Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover.

What do professionals use to clean tile grout?

"A few of the more popular and effective commercial grout cleaning options are alkaline-based products, as well as the popular oxygen bleach product," says Peterson. Unlike chlorine bleach, which can discolor the grout, she says that oxygen bleach products will clean, sanitize and remove stains without harming the grout. "Both products effectively remove dirt and grime and restore grout to its original condition with minimal effort."

Believe it or not, Peterson says that a lot of professionals use a homemade mixture that consists of one cup of baking soda and one cup of hydrogen peroxide. "This simple and cost-effective method truly does the trick on tile grout," she says. "If you are using this solution in the kitchen, you can even add some degreasing dish soap to help break down the buildup of grease."

How do you clean grout without damaging tile?

"In order to clean grout without damaging your tile, avoid using harsh or abrasive tools," Peterson states. "Instead, it's best to use a simple scrubber like the back of sponge or an old toothbrush as it will allow you to scrub in a precise manner to avoid the tile as much as possible."

How do you clean grout with baking soda and vinegar?

Here's how to clean your grout with baking soda and white vinegar, according to Peterson:



  1. Add baking soda into a mixing bowl (there is no specific measurements for this — the amount will depend on how much grout you need cleaned).
  2. Slowly pour in the vinegar and mix it with the baking soda until a thick paste is formed.
  3. Once the paste is ready, apply a generous amount across the grout.
  4. Allow the layer of paste to sit on the grout for at least 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Once the 5 to 10 minutes is up, simply rinse the area with warm water to get rid of any leftover residue.

How do you clean grout with bleach?

Want something a little stronger? We get it! Peterson suggests this simple method:



  1. Mix the bleach products with warm water (adding water allows the bleach to release oxygen that will lift dirt and stains from the grout).
  2. Apply a thorough layer of the solution to grout lines using a damp sponge.
  3. Let the solution soak for around 20 minutes.
  4. Once the solution has had time to soak in, scrub the grout lines with an old toothbrush.
  5. Rinse the area with warm water to get rid of any leftover residue.

How do you clean grout with hydrogen peroxide?

Peroxide is another household do-it-all ingredient. Here's how Peterson suggests using it to clean your grout.



  1. Mix one cup of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of baking soda.
  2. Pour the mixture directly onto the grout lines.
  3. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes before wiping away with warm water.

How do you clean grout with lemon?

Use lemon juice in your DIY recipe for a little extra acidity.



  1. Combine the cream of tartar with the lemon juice to make a thick paste the consistency of runny toothpaste.
  2. Pour some hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle and spray the grout to get rid of mold and mildew.
  3. Reapply if necessary, scrub and rinse.
  4. Use a small stiff-bristled cleaning brush and apply the homemade grout cleaner to the area and scrub the grout. This is when you put some muscle into it.
  5. Let the solution sit on the grout then rinse and wipe dry.
  6. Repeat until you reach the desired level of brightness.

Aside from cleaning the tiles once a week with vinegar, McAuliffe strongly suggests that you treat the grout with a sealant to prolong the life of the tiles, “Reseal your grout every one or two years and you should be good moving forward.”

The best products to clean tile grout

Ajax Powder Cleaner with Bleach

This handy powder cleaner is a classic for a reason: it's very effective! This version has bleach to really get things glistening. It does wonders for tile and grout on horizontal surfaces, but is a little harder to use on vertical surfaces.

Clorox All-Purpose Cleaner with Bleach

This long-time favorite gets the job done easily. Just take it from the nearly 17,000 Walmart and Target shoppers who rated it five stars!

CLR Brilliant Bath Foaming Spray

This impressively-rated foaming spray is not only tough on your grout, it's safe to use on glass, shower heads and even stainless steel!

OXO Good Grips Deep Clean Brush Set

This OXO brush set helps get any DIY or store-bought cleaner into every nook and cranny of your grout, with two sizes to choose from, depending on what you're cleaning.

Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover

Let's face it: mold and mildew thrive in the bathroom thanks to its damp, humid environment. Luckily, this spray from Tilex helps banish all that gross stuff — and it's great for all over your bathroom, not just your grout!

Rubbermaid Reveal Power Scrubber

We've written about this little miracle tool before, but it bears repeating: this is a power-packed product that will return your grout to good as new.