Shower wall covered with large, white tiles and off-white grout

If you want the tiles in your bathroom or kitchen to look their best you can’t ignore the grout. Grout is that white material that fills the space between tiles and helps hold them in place. It’s quite a porous material and hence it does as good a job attracting dirt, stains and mold as it does making sure your tiles don’t fall out.

If you engage in tile cleaning but ignore grout cleaning you’re only doing half a job. On the other hand, if you clean the grout using the wrong materials or methods you could damage the grout (and the tiles), undermine its integrity and create worse stains than you already have. Below we’re going to look at the six biggest mistakes people make when cleaning grout.

Common Grout Cleaning Mistakes

Grout has been around for thousands of years. The Ancient Greeks and Romans used it on their elaborate tile mosaics as well as in bathrooms and swimming pools of the time. But despite being mankind’s constant companion for so many centuries precious few people know much about it, other than the fact that cleaning it can be a pain, and cleaning it the wrong way can lead to big problems.

When the time comes to clean the grout make sure you do not make any of these common mistakes.

Mistake #1: Using the wrong brush

Grout seals itself against the elements as it sets. This is what makes it such a popular bathroom material. But that surface seal is not indestructible. In fact, if you use a wire brush to clean your grout you will likely tear that outside layer right off and leave the grout susceptible to water penetration, staining and mold formation.

If you want to use a brush to clean your grout make sure it’s one with plastic bristles. There are a lot of grout-friendly brushes on the market. Just go to the local hardware store and ask for one. There should be quite a few to choose from.

Mistake #2: Using sealers

There are a number of grout cleaning products on the market today that promise to seal your grout as they clean. Many of these are wax or oil-based cleaners. The waxy or oily residue they leave behind is supposed to seal up the grout, but often they do more harm than good.

First of all, you don’t have to constantly seal your grout. Second, every time you go to clean the grout you will have to first strip off the wax or oil-based sealer from the previous cleaning. And finally, using wax or oil-based products on floor tiles increases the risk of slip and fall accidents. If you don’t have any compelling reason to use a cleaner/sealer don’t use one.

Mistake #3: Cleaning old damaged grout

If you have older grout that has sustained some wear and tear damage over time and may be chipped, cracked or flaking away in places, fix it before you clean it. If you pour the water on while cleaning it’s going to get into those damaged areas and linger there. That moisture will in turn promote the growth of mold and soak into the exposed underlayers of the grout and begin eating away at them, speeding up the decay.

Instead of trying to clean the damaged grout back to health a better approach is to clear away any loose or damaged grout and then use caulk to fill in the damaged areas. Give the caulk a couple of days to cure before walking on the tile floor or using the shower. If you want you can use grout to fill in any cracks, but this is a more involved process and you’ll probably want to hire a pro.

Mistake #4: Using grout cleaners that contain artificial colors

We don’t know why but some manufacturers add artificial colors to their grout cleaning products. In many cases, these chemicals can leave behind a nasty and stubborn stain if the grout is a little older and in less than perfect condition.

The right thing to do is bypass these potentially problematic cleaners and go for one that does not contain any added color.

Mistake #5: Using abrasive scrubbing pads to clean the grout

It’s easy to understand why people would use a green scrubbing pad or steel wool to clean their grout. Their abrasive nature means they cut right through the dirt and mold and save a bunch of time. Some folks will even use something like Comet to speed up the process. Now, Comet is a fine product with many useful applications, but it was not intended to clean tile grout.

Abrasives will not only rip away the top layer of the grout, they will also leave countless tiny scratches on your beautiful tiles that in time will undermine the integrity of the nice, shiny surface.

Mistake #6: Using home remedies

Bleach, baking soda and other common household materials will weaken the grout and hasten its disintegration. These products are highly acidic and the structure of the grout is no match for them over the long haul. Even lemon juice has the ability to undermine the integrity of grout.

Instead of using whatever is under the sink, invest in a grout cleaning product that was made specifically for the job. You’ll be glad you did.

And for all your carpet cleaning and upholstery cleaning needs call the pros at Steve’s Carpet Care.

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