Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My (all natural) DIY grout cleaner.

When we built our house eight years ago, we chose to install tile in all the 'wet' areas of our home. We also chose to use a sand colored grout, for a couple of reasons. First, it matched the tile better. Second, it doesn't show dirt and spills as much.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. We have a small island in our kitchen that is on wheels. I had occasion to move the island for a couple of days. I noticed something that, I'll admit, is rather embarrassing. The grout under the island was the original color. The grout in the rest of the kitchen and breakfast nook...not so much. It almost looked black compared to that small section in the middle of the kitchen! I guess that over time, the grout had gotten dirtier and dirtier, but I didn't notice it much because it happened gradually.

Well, I decided then and there to do something about it! I looked at Walmart for a grout cleaner, but didn't find any. Thank goodness! I later went online and Googled 'grout cleaner', and found several websites that shared 'recipes' for grout cleaner to make at home. I also found some on Pinterest.  I decided that I would combine two of the recipes for my really nasty dirty floors. You can see the before and after results below...

First, I invested in a good grout brush, as suggested online. This is the one I chose... (I purchased mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond)

Next, I mixed up my two-step, all natural, DIY grout cleaner. This is really just two different methods combined.

First, mix baking soda and lemon juice together into a paste. I found this suggestion here. I used a glass bowl, and mixed small quantities at a time. I found that having the paste be a little more moist was helpful. Second, mix up a batch of this grout cleaning brew:

1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup water
3 Tbsp baking soda

If you recall from your junior high science class, when you mix baking soda and vinegar, you are going to get a volcano. The effect is diluted somewhat thanks to the water. Make sure you have a large enough bowl to handle the 'fizzing' that occurs.

Now let's get down and dirty. Literally. The first step is to scoop out some of the paste onto your fingertips, and rub it along the grout lines. You don't need  a whole lot, just make sure you rub it over the whole line. There doesn't need to be a big mound of paste, just a surface coating. Work on small sections at a time so that you can reach the whole area with your brush. I'll admit something here, folks. My grout was so dirty, that just rubbing the paste along the grout lines made the paste turn a dull gray color. Yuck! On the other hand, I knew it was working. Next, grab your bowl of grout cleaning brew and a clean white cloth. Dip the cloth into the brew, let it absorb some, then squeeze the cloth along the grout lines to distribute the liquid. It's okay for it to get on the tile and puddle a bit (unless you have travertine or marble tile--if so, use a product designed for those types of tiles). Continue to dip and squeeze until you've covered a small area. All the websites I saw said to let the cleaner 'dwell' for a while. Basically, this means let it sit there and do it's thing for about five minutes or so. Once your paste/brew combination has 'dwelled' for a few minutes, grab your grout brush (and some knee pads if you have them!), and start scrubbing. This job does require quite a bit of elbow grease!

Almost immediately, I noticed my clear brew changing to a muddy color. I could also tell that the grout was getting lighter. Instant gratification, people! Completely scrub all the grout in the small section you're working on, then 'mop' up the excess liquid and dirt with another clean cloth. NOTE: I kept a bucket of warm water in the sink for this purpose. Continue cleaning, section by section, until you have done the entire floor. Once you're done, you'll probably want to mop the entire floor, as you usually would, in order to remove any leftover residue.

As you can see in the photo above, we're back to our sandy grout! It's truly refreshing to know that my floors have been restored to their 'original' condition. Now to do the utility room...  Happy grout cleaning!


www.azcarpetandtilecleaning.com said...

Awesome job. I wonder how you did that without spending too much time.

Deidra Schaefer said...

I'm loving this homemade cleaner post, but did you try to get the pH tested for this formula? Without a doubt, this cleaner is very effective in removing grout stains, although I'm concerned about the acidity of the formula itself. Low pH means high acidity and that means it could eat up the mineral calcium in the tiles and grout causing them to weaken or break up. This couls be further aggravated by the type of brush you're going to use to clean the grouts.

Deidre Schaefer @ MinuteManIntl.com