The grout around your tiles, and possibly around your tub and sink, is a mortar-like compound of water, sand, and cement. It dries quickly and becomes rock-hard. It usually comes in white, but it can be stained almost any color. In at least two ways it is similar to grout: black mold and mildew will grow on it, and you attack both of these problems the same way. These things aren't just unsightly, they're also a health risk. |
You will be cleaning mold and mildew less if your bathroom, kitchen, and anyplace else where tile combines with moisture, is equipped with an exhaust fan that takes the moisture out of the air.Whether you've got tile floors, kitchen backsplashes, or bathroom tile, the grout between tiles can get pretty grimy. With the right cleaning solution and a bit of elbow grease, you can get your grout looking fresh and brand new.
Tile grout gets dirty in many different ways. In the bathroom, it's usually mold or mildew causing the grout stains. In the kitchen it could be a combination of food stains, general household traffic and grime, and mildew. No matter what the cause of the staining, start off with the simplest and least acidic cleaning solution first, moving up to harsher chemical cleaners if you are unsuccessful in getting the grout completely clean.
For some stains, simple household items like vinegar or baking soda can be effective grout cleaners. Use vinegar diluted with an equal amount of water, or make a paste of baking soda and a bit of water to clean the grout with. Spray or dab the cleaner onto a small length of grout and scrub with a stiff brush.If your grout hasn't come completely clean, the next step is to try a commercial tile and grout cleaner. These are available wherever home cleaning products are sold. Try to find a cleanser that is pH balanced so that the chemicals in the product won't erode the grout with continued use. To get the best result from a commercial cleaner, spray it on and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing. Follow the directions on the label of the product to clean effectively.
For heavy duty stains, use even stronger products such as oxygen bleach powder, hydrogen peroxide, or chlorine bleach. These products should be well diluted before use. You can also find heavy duty cleaners at hardware stores or janitorial supply outlets. If you go this route, however, you will need to read labels carefully and follow directions to the letter. Oxygen bleach is nontoxic, doesn't produce harsh fumes, and is color- and fabric-safe. It removes all food and grease stains with no or minimal scrubbing. The oxygen ions attack the stain molecules, breaking them into pieces that rinse away with little effort.
To clean floor tiles, mix any high-quality oxygen bleach with warm water and stir it until it dissolves. Then pour the solution onto the floor tile so the grout lines are flooded with the solution. It's best to apply the oxygen-bleach solution to dry grout so it soaks deeply. Let the solution sit on the grout for at least 15 minutes. If it completely soaks into the grout, add more solution, making sure there is always plenty of the cleaning liquid on the grout. Once you have clean floor tiles, you can keep the grout looking like new by adding oxygen bleach powder to your mop water. Apply a liberal amount of mop water to the floor, scrubbing the tile surface with the mop. But leave the mop water in the grout joints without rinsing the floor. The oxygen ions clean the light dirt in the grout without scrubbing. Come back 30 minutes later and rinse the floor with clean water. If you do this each time, you'll never be on your hands and knees again with a scrub brush.
If, after cleaning, the mold returns quickly, you may have more than just a surface mold problem. The mold may be embedded behind the tile and grout. You need to take a look, either by removing some tiles or cutting through an adjoining wall. Extensive mold is going to require some extensive work, so best call in a mold removal expert.
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