Two Types of Grout Sealer and the Most Popular Brands

Sealing grout is a necessary step in any tile and grout project. Unfortunately, this step gets overlooked many times to the determent of your grout. Because it is porous, dirt and mildew can get down into your grout making it appear dirty and discolored no matter how much you clean it. Grout sealer prevents this from happening and as a result your grout and tile look cleaner and newer for longer. But just because you know how important it is to use grout sealer, that doesn’t mean you know what grout sealant product is the best grout sealer for you. Looking at the display of sealant products in a home improvement store or tile store can be daunting because there are so many choices. This page will give you some insight into what kind of grout sealer you should use and some grout sealer reviews of some of the most popular brands.

What are the Different Types of Grout Sealers?

  • Penetrating Grout Sealer – Sealer penetrates the porous tile and grout. Polymers are dissolved in either water or a solvent and the liquid works its way just under the surface of the grout and tile. When the water or solvent evaporates, the polymer is left behind to fill the pores and voids in the grout. The result is a shield that repels water and resists staining.
  • Topical Grout Sealer – This sealer is sometimes called a coating sealer. They form a protective barrier on top of the grout and tile rather than under the surface. Coating sealers are also polymers dissolved in water or solvent and the liquid evaporates away to leave the barrier of polymer behind. The polymers used in topical or coating sealers are larger polymer molecules that bridge the gaps or voids in the tile and grout rather than fill them. A common polymer used in topical sealers is acrylic.

When Should I Use Penetrating Grout Sealer?

  1. Wet environments like showers or bathtubs
  2. High traffic areas where foot traffic can wear off topical sealers
  3. Exterior tile and grout that is exposed to the elements (e.g. patios or walkways)

Penetrating grout sealers are definitely the more popular type of grout sealant and you will find more of them on the shelves than coating sealers because they last longer and provide better protection. You can use penetrating sealers on almost any type of tile; just check the specific product instructions. Each formulation is slightly different and certain products are recommended over others for certain types of tile. The chart below will give you an idea of which products are recommended for which tile materials.

Penetrating sealers are also more appropriate in wet or moist environments like a shower or bathtub than topical sealers. If water or moisture were to get under the topical or coating sealer, there would be no way for it to escape and that trapped moisture will foster mildew growth. When water hits a penetrating sealer, it beads up on the surface and never gets into the grout.

When Should I Use Topical Grout Sealer?

  1. To achieve a gloss or matte finish
  2. Extremely high porosity tiles
  3. Low traffic areas in the interest of cost

There are circumstances where coating or topical tile and grout sealers are more appropriate. One of those circumstances would be if you wanted to add a finish to the tile or grout rather than just leave the natural look of the tile and grout. Finishing products can be applied separately after the tile and grout are already sealed, but it is more convenient to have a single product that accomplishes both steps. High gloss and matte finishes are common choices that are often combined with a sealer. Because the finish needs to be on top of the tile or grout lines, these sealers are topical or coating sealers rather than penetrating ones.

Another possible circumstance where you would want to use a topical grout sealant is on extremely high porosity tiles like terracotta. If you try to use a penetrating grout sealer on these tiles, two problems might arise. First, you might have to apply so much penetrating sealer that the color and appearance of your tile would change drastically, negatively affecting the aesthetics of your tile choice. Second, you might have to use so much penetrating sealer that it just isn’t very economical. In these circumstances, it is better to use a topical sealer so that you preserve the appearance of your tile and do not waste your money.

Sanded GroutsNon-Sanded GroutsPolished MarblePolished TravertinePolished LimestoneUnpolished MarbleUnpolished TravertineUnpolished LimestonePolished GraniteSlateOther Natural StonesUnglazed CeramicPorcelainMasonrySaltilloTerra- cotta
Tilelab Stonespecific Polished Marble, Travertine + Limestone Sealeryesyesyesyesyesnonononononononononono
Tilelab Stonespecific Tumbled/Honed Marble, Travertine, Limestone + Slate Sealeryesyesnononoyesyesyesnoyesnononononono
Tilelab Stonespecfic Polished Granite Sealeryesyesnonononononoyesnonononononono
Tilelab Surfacegardyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Tilelab Grout & Tile Sealeryesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Tilelab Aim and Seal Grout Sealeryesyesnononononononononononononono
Tilelab Grout Sealeryesyesnononononononononononononono
Tilelab Stonespecific Stone Enhancer & Sealeryesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnonononono
Tilelab Gloss Sealer & Finishnononononononononoyesyesnononoyesyes
Tilelab Matte Sealer & Finishnononononononononoyesyesnononoyesyes
Sanded GroutsNon-Sanded GroutsPolished MarblePolished TravertinePolished LimestoneUnpolished MarbleUnpolished TravertineUnpolished LimestonePolished GraniteSlateOther Natural StonesUnglazed CeramicPorcelainMasonrySaltilloTerra- cotta
Aqua Mix Sealer’s Choice Goldyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Aqua Mix Ultra-Solvyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Aqua Mix Penetrating Sealeryesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Aqua Mix Pro-Solvyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Aqua Mix Sameday Grout Sealeryesyesnononononononononononononono
Aqua Mix Grout Sealeryesyesnononononononononononononono
Aqua Mix High Gloss Sealeryesyesnononoyesyesyesnoyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Aqua Mix Seal & Finish Low Sheenyesyesnononononononoyesyesnonoyesyesyes
Aqua Mix Enrich’N'Sealyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnonononono
Sanded GroutsNon-Sanded GroutsPolished MarblePolished TravertinePolished LimestoneUnpolished MarbleUnpolished TravertineUnpolished LimestonePolished GraniteSlateOther Natural StonesUnglazed CeramicPorcelainMasonrySaltilloTerra- cotta
Tile Guard Natural Stone Premium Sealeryesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnoyesnoyesyes
Tile Guard Enhance and Sealyesyesnononoyesyesyesnoyesyesnonononono
Tile Guard Natural Stone Penetrating Sealeryesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnonoyesyesyes
Tile Guard Floor and Countertop Stone Sealeryesyesyesnonoyesnonoyesnonononononono
Tile Guard One Step Floor Grout Sealeryesyesnononononononononononononono
Tile Guard Water-Based Floor Grout Sealeryesyesnononononononononononononono
Tile Guard Penetrating Grout Sealeryesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnonoyesnono
Tie Guard Silicone Tile Grout Sealeryesyesnononononononononononononono
Tile Guard Silicone Grout Sealernoyesnononononononononononononono
Sanded GroutsNon-Sanded GroutsPolished MarblePolished TravertinePolished LimestoneUnpolished MarbleUnpolished TravertineUnpolished LimestonePolished GraniteSlateOther Natural StonesUnglazed CeramicPorcelainMasonrySaltilloTerra- cotta
Stonetech Professional BulletProof Sealeryesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnononoyesyes
Stonetech Prefessional Heavy Duty Sealeryesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnononoyesyes
Stonetech Professional Sealeryesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnononoyesyes
Stonetech Professional Natural Stone Countertop Sealeryesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnononoyesyes
Stonetech Professional Impregnator Pro Sealeryesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnonononono
Stonetech Professional Heavy Duty Exterior Sealeryesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnonoyesnono
Stenetech Professional Advanced Grout Sealeryesyesnononononononononononononono
Stonetech Professional Grout Sealeryesyesnononononononononononononono
Sanded GroutsNon-Sanded GroutsPolished MarblePolished TravertinePolished LimestoneUnpolished MarbleUnpolished TravertineUnpolished LimestonePolished GraniteSlateOther Natural StonesUnglazed CeramicPorcelainMasonrySaltilloTerra- cotta
511 Impregnatoryesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnonono
511 Porous Plusyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnononoyesyes
511 H2O Plusyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
511 Grout Sealeryesyesnononononononononononononono
511 Spray-On Grout Sealeryesyesnononononononononononononono
511 Seal & Enhanceyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnoyesnono

Below is a description of some of the more popular tile and grout sealers available to homeowners and contractors.

Tilelab SurfaceGard

Tilelab SurfaceGard is their top of the line all purpose grout and tile sealer. This product by Tilelab comes in a variety of sizes with bottles ranging from one pint to one gallon. The quart size bottle comes equipped with a spray nozzle for easy application. The instructions for this product say to apply the SurfaceGard with a sponge or mop. If you are using a container without the spray nozzle, then you can pour it directly on the tile and grout and then spread it around with a mop or sponge. This product is suitable for almost any tile material and all sanded and non-sanded grouts. Typically, polished surfaces will only need one coat while more porous surfaces like grout will need at least two. Excess residue that remains after sixty minutes can be removed with a white polishing pad. You can get anywhere from 200 to 1200 square feet of coverage per gallon depending on the porosity of the tile and grout.

You can purchase Tilelab products at the following retailers: Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and many tile distributors.

Tilelab Grout & Tile Sealer

This product can be used on the same surfaces as the SurfaceGard product. The only difference between these two products is that the Grout & Tile Sealer is a little less expensive and does not last quite as long. While the SurfaceGard claims to last for twenty years, the Grout & Tile Sealer will not last nearly as long. This product comes in either a gallon bottle or a quart bottle with a spray nozzle. Coverage is 200 to 1200 square feet per gallon depending on the porosity of the tile and grout and is applied with a mop or sponge. Excess can be removed by scrubbing with a white polishing pad sixty minutes after application but before the product is completely dry.

You can purchase Tilelab products at the following retailers: Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and many tile distributors.

Tilelab Stonespecific

There are actually three different Stonespecific products made by Tilelab and each is designed for slightly different natural stone surfaces. One product is meant for polished marble, travertine, and limestone. The second product is meant for un-polished, tumbled, or honed marble, travertine, limestone, and slate. A third product is meant for polished granite. Tilelab made this series of products as an improvement of the SurfaceGard product. There are slight variations in the formulations that make each Stonespecific product better suited to different porosity stones. All three products come in a quart bottle with spray nozzle. The application process is slightly different from the other Tilelab products in several ways. First, you need to work the sealer in for five to ten minutes rather than just applying and waiting for the sealer to penetrate. Then you wait for a longer amount of time between the first and second coats. Coverage is anywhere from 800 to 1,200 square feet per gallon and excess sealer needs to be wiped off immediately after application before it dries.

You can purchase Tilelab products at the following retailers: Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and many tile distributors.

Tilelab Aim & Seal Grout Sealer

Tilelab Aim & Seal Grout Sealer is meant specifically for sealing grout lines. This product comes in an aerosol can that you are supposed to hold eighteen to twenty four inches away from the grout. You spray the grout lines and then wipe away any excess sealer that gets on the surrounding tiles allowing the sealer to penetrate the grout. You can spray the aerosol can in many positions because of its 360° nozzle. It can even be sprayed in an inverted position making it easy to apply in tough areas like the corners of a shower stall from a standing position. The coverage for this product is 525 linear feet per 15 oz. can. This might be a good product to use if you are looking to reseal your grout lines but your tiles do not need to be resealed.

You can purchase Tilelab products at the following retailers: Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and many tile distributors.

Tilelab Grout Sealer

Tilelab Grout Sealer comes in a six oz. bottle with an applicator brush at the tip. The product is squeezed out of the bottle and applied to the grout lines alone using the applicator brush. Like the Aim & Seal Grout Sealer, this product is for sealing grout lines only, not tiles. You can wipe off any excess sealer that makes it onto the tiles with a cloth. You might use this product instead of the aerosol can if you want a more controlled application process. For example, if you are sealing the grout on a kitchen backsplash and you want to avoid getting sealer on your cabinets or painted walls nearby, you might choose to use the Tilelab Grout Sealer rather than the Aim & Seal Grout Sealer. Coverage is anywhere from 60 to 80 square feet per 6 oz. bottle, depending on how many coats you need to apply. It should also be noted, that the literature from Tilelab on this product indicates that is not as good a stain resistor as the Aim & Seal product.

You can purchase Tilelab products at the following retailers: Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and many tile distributors.

Tilelab Stonespecific Stone Enhancer & Sealer

Tilelab’s Stonespecific Stone Enhancer & Sealer is a penetrating product that combines the protection of a sealant with the rejuvenation of an enhancer. The enhancer will darken and accentuate color differences in the natural stone tiles. This product should be used to improve the appearance of worn or faded stone tiles. This product comes in a quart spray bottle and has approximately 43 to 85 square feet of coverage in a bottle. Once the product is sprayed on, you need to spread it out evenly over the tile and grout to ensure even enhancement. Try to avoid overlap or application of excess material in any one area because the stone will not appear uniform. It should be noted that the more porous the stone is, the deeper the color enhancement will be. Make sure to test the material on a small inconspicuous area first to make sure you like the result.

You can purchase Tilelab products at the following retailers: Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and many tile distributors.

Tilelab Gloss Sealer & Finish

Tilelab Gloss Sealer & Finish is a topical sealer or coating sealer that is used on extremely porous stones like terracotta and slate. The result is a glossy coating that enhances the color and appearance of your tile while providing a layer of protection against scuff marks and stains. This product comes in quart and gallon bottles and you can expect somewhere between 300 and 500 square feet of coverage per gallon of product. The application process is simple because you just need to apply an even layer with a sponge or mop and allow for it to dry.

You can purchase Tilelab products at the following retailers: Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and many tile distributors.

Tilelab Matte Sealer & Finish

The Tilelab Matte Sealer & Finish is also a topical sealer, but the end result is a low sheen matte look rather than a high sheen glossy look. The protective finish helps to prevent stains and scuff marks while enhancing the color and texture of your porous stone tiles. The product comes in 2 sizes, a quart bottle and a gallon bottle. Coverage is 300 to 500 square feet per gallon and application should be done with a sponge, mop, or lambswool applicator. Make sure that you apply several thin coats rather than one thick coat. If the sealer coat is too thick it will dry unevenly and the end result will not be as attractive. Several thin coats will produce a better result, but it does take longer.

You can purchase Tilelab products at the following retailers: Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and many tile distributors.

Aqua Mix Sealer’s Choice Gold

Sealer’s Choice Gold is the premium all-purpose grout and tile sealer from Aqua Mix. This product is a water-based penetrating sealer that is safe to use on almost any type of tile and grout. Aqua Mix markets this product as especially appropriate for food preparation and serving areas because of its superior stain protection. The Sealer’s Choice Gold also has a Rapid Cure Formula unique to Aqua Mix that is designed to achieve optimal penetration in as little time as possible. Aqua Mix claims that this sealer will dry in as little as four hours. Other products might take as long as twenty four hours before you are allowed to walk on the surface. Sealer’s Choice Gold comes in a variety of sizes ranging from one pint to 5 gallons. Application can be accomplished with a mop, sponge, or cloth. You can also spray the product on and then even out with a sponge or cloth. Any excess sealer that does not penetrate the surface of the tile or grout should be removed within five minutes. The coverage of this product is anywhere from 300 to 1,500 square feet depending on the porosity of the tile and grout.

Aqua Mix products are available exclusively from tile distributors and cannot be purchased at hardware or box stores.

Aqua Mix Ultra-Solv

Aqua Mix Ultra-Solv is also a premium all purpose grout and tile sealer. The only difference between this product and the Sealer’s Choice Gold is that this product is a solvent-based penetrating sealer. There are several reasons why you might prefer to use a solvent-based sealer over a water-based one. First, some experts claim that solvent-based sealers penetrate better than water-based ones because the molecules of the solvent are smaller than water molecules and it is easier for them to penetrate the tile and grout. In addition, some people say that you are less likely to develop a haze on top of your tile if you use solvent-based sealers. Of course, the main drawback to using a solvent-based sealer like Aqua Mix Ultra-Solv is the fumes given off while you are applying it. You must work in a well ventilated area and take breaks often to make sure you are not breathing in harmful vapors. Coverage is anywhere from 400 to 1,500 square feet depending on the porosity of the tile you are sealing. This product is available is a variety of sizes ranging from one quart bottles to five gallon pails.

Aqua Mix products are available exclusively from tile distributors and cannot be purchased at hardware or box stores.

Aqua Mix Penetrating Sealer

Aqua Mix Penetrating Sealer is also an all-purpose tile and grout sealer. It is a water-based product that can be used on almost any tile surface. It comes in many different package sizes ranging from one quart bottles to 55 gallon drums. The main difference between Aqua Mix Penetrating Sealer and Aqua Mix Sealer’s Choice Gold is that the Penetrating Sealer is an economical choice that does not last quite as long. The product information for Aqua Mix Penetrating Sealer says that the product will only last around five years. Application methods are consistent with other Aqua Mix products and the coverage that you can expect ranges between 300 and 1,000 square feet per gallon depending on the type of tile.

Aqua Mix products are available exclusively from tile distributors and cannot be purchased at hardware or box stores.

Aqua Mix Pro-Solv

Aqua Mix Pro-Solv is the economical alternative for Aqua Mix Ultra-Solv. Pro-Solv is also a solvent-based tile and grout sealer, but it does not last as long as the premium all purpose solvent-based product by Aqua Mix. Expected wear is around ten years and coverage ranges from 300 to 1,500 square feet per gallon. As with all solvent-based grout and tile sealers, you need to make sure there is adequate ventilation in your work area and that you wear respiratory protection when working with this product. After the product is completely dry, you do not need to worry about respiratory protection or fumes. Once the solvent evaporates away leaving the polymer behind to plug up the porous tiles and grout lines, the ventilation will no longer be an issue.

Aqua Mix products are available exclusively from tile distributors and cannot be purchased at hardware or box stores.

Aqua Mix SameDay Grout Sealer

Aqua Mix SameDay Grout Sealer is a sealing product intended exclusively for grout and not for tile. This grout sealer is an aerosol product that you spray onto the grout lines. Any excess sealer that is sprayed onto the tiles needs to be wiped off within five minutes of application. Coverage is varies from 300 to 500 square feet per 15 oz can depending on the porosity of the grout and other factors like temperature or humidity. The main characteristic that makes this grout sealer stand out is that Aqua Mix claims you can use it on grout as soon as six hours after grouting. That is far sooner than most grout sealers. Once the grout sealer is applied it will last between one and two years. Luckily it is easy to apply since you will have to reapply so often.

Aqua Mix products are available exclusively from tile distributors and cannot be purchased at hardware or box stores.

Aqua Mix Grout Sealer

Aqua Mix Grout Sealer is a water-based sealer meant especially for sanded and unsanded grouts. It is used most commonly on ceramic tile installations where you do not want to seal the tiles. Unlike the SameDay Grout Sealer, this product needs to be applied with a soft bristled paint brush or sponge paint applicator. You need a tool that is small enough to only get the sealer on the grout lines. Aqua Mix Grout Sealer comes in containers ranging in size from one pint bottles to 55 gallon drums. Coverage is between 300 and 1,500 square feet depending on the porosity of the grout and room conditions. If you do not have a need to seal your grout especially quickly, this is a good all purpose grout sealer to use.

Aqua Mix products are available exclusively from tile distributors and cannot be purchased at hardware or box stores.

Aqua Mix High Gloss Sealer

Aqua Mix High Gloss Sealer is a topical or coating sealer that not only provides some surface protection for your tile and grout, but also provides a high-sheen finish to your floor. The high –sheen finish is usually obtained with a second product. This Aqua Mix tile and grout sealer saves you an extra step by combining the two products together. Since it is a topical sealer, you should not use Aqua Mix High Gloss Sealer in environments where there will be a lot of moisture or water such as the shower or bathtub. The High Gloss Sealer is applied with a paint brush or sponge and provides between 300 and 1,000 square feet of coverage for every gallon of product. You need to be extra careful to get an even application of sealer when applying topical sealer because uneven application will be evident once the product dries. Avoid puddling at all costs.

Aqua Mix products are available exclusively from tile distributors and cannot be purchased at hardware or box stores.

Aqua Mix Seal & Finish Low Sheen

Aqua Mix Seal & Finish Low Sheen is similar to the High Gloss Sealer in that it is a topical or coating sealer that combines a Sealer with a Finishing coat to add texture to a floor. The difference is that the result is a low sheen coating rather than a high sheen one. The application of this product is also very important. You want to apply the sealer with a paint brush or sponge in a very even layer so that imperfections are not noticeable once the sealer dries. Coverage is 300 to 1,000 square feet per gallon and the product comes in package sizes ranging from one quart bottles to five gallon pails.

Aqua Mix products are available exclusively from tile distributors and cannot be purchased at hardware or box stores.

Aqua Mix Enrich ‘N’ Seal

Aqua Mix Enrich ‘N’ Seal is a penetrating sealer that not only provides a sealer’s protection to the tile and grout, it also enriches the look of the tile and grout by darkening the coloring and highlighting the characteristics of natural stone. When you use this product on your floor or tiled area, make sure to test the product on a small inconspicuous place first to make sure that you like the results. Package sizes range from one pint to one gallon bottles. Application can be done with a sponge, mop, cloth pad, or paint brush. It is important to avoid overlapping during the application process because you want the same enriching effect on all sections of tile and grout. Coverage ranges from 500 to 1,500 square feet per gallon depending on the porosity of the tile and grout. This product is expected to last around fifteen years.

Aqua Mix products are available exclusively from tile distributors and cannot be purchased at hardware or box stores.

Grout Cleaning Tips

Cleaning dirty grout is one of the most labor intensive and difficult cleaning projects in your home. Even though it is difficult, it is extremely important to keep your grout clean. There are health benefits to keeping grout clean as well as monetary benefits. If you ever decide to sell your home, having clean grout could make a difference in the decision of a prospective buyer. When your tile grout is clean, the whole room will look brighter and larger. Those are huge advantages when trying to sell your home. You might even be able to get more money for your home because the buyer will feel like they can move right in. Dirty grout poses a health risk because bacteria and allergy inducing molds can grow in the porous grout lines if you let them get too dirty. When it comes time to do some cleaning in your bathroom, kitchen, or any room with tile floors or tile walls, here are a few grout cleaning tips to keep in mind.

  • Grout clean often
  • Use the gentlest grout cleaner possible
  • Gels, pastes, and foams are better than liquid grout cleaners
  • Scrub with circular motions
  • Stained grout is not the same as dirty grout
  • You do not have to clean grout by hand
  • Apply grout sealer

Grout Clean Often

The number one key to keeping your grout looking clean and bright is to clean it as often as possible. The reason that grout gets dirtier than tile or other areas of your home is that it is more porous. The porous nature of grout surfaces means that dirt and stain causing spills can work their way deep into the grout lines. It is harder to clean stains and get out dirt that is deep into the grout rather than just on the surface. If you clean your grout often enough, you will never give the dirt long enough to work its way very deep and as a result the cleaning will be much easier and faster.

I find it is best to get on a schedule and work that schedule into your daily routine. The shower is the hardest tiled area to keep clean because of the wet ad warm environment. That is why I pay special attention to this tiled area. I spend an extra five minutes in the shower each morning cleaning a section of the tile and grout. I have broken up my shower into seven parts and a I clean a different section every day. That means that the entire shower gets cleaned once a week, but I only spend a few extra minutes in the shower each morning where I will be spending time anyway. Even if I miss a day because I am away or just in a hurry, I know that I will hit that area again in a week and the grout will never go long without cleaning.

Use the Gentlest Grout Cleaner Possible

It is possible to damage your grout or even your tile if you use a chemical that is too harsh or abrasive. That is why my next grout cleaning tip is to use the gentlest grout cleaner that you can in order to get the grout clean. If you are cleaning your grout for the first time, I would suggest starting with the mildest option, which is steam, and working your way up to the harshest option which is chlorine bleach products. When you find a cleaner that works, you do not have to go any farther and you know you have been as gentle on your grout and tile as you could be. If you start to clean your grout regularly, you may find that you can even go down a level or two for ongoing cleaning. For more information on the different types of grout cleaners, go here.

Gels, Pastes, and Foams are better than Liquid Grout Cleaners

My next grout cleaning tip is to try to use grout cleaners that have more substance like gels or pastes rather than liquid cleaners. The reason for this is that most grout cleaners are more effective if you give them time to sit on the grout and start to break down stains and grime. On vertical tiled surfaces especially, the liquid grout cleaners just run off and do not get a lot of time to do their work. Gels, foams, or pastes will stay on the grout lines and do a lot of the grout cleaning for you before you ever pick up a scrub brush or turn on a grout cleaning machine.

Scrub with Circular Motions

When you are scrubbing grout lines, it can be very tempting to scrub directly along those grout lines in a back and forth motion. It feels as though that scrubbing action is the most efficient use of your time and energy because you shouldn’t waste time scrubbing the rest of the tile. The problem with that approach is that the back and forth motion actually deposits dirt back into the grout lines. With every forward stroke you are dislodging dirt and grime, and then with every backward motion you are putting the dirt you just removed back into the grout. The correct scrubbing motion to use when cleaning grout lines is a circular one. Scrub along the grout lines in small circular motions so that you dislodge the dirt and grime and then deposit what you removed to the side on the tile before moving on to another section of grout. While it seems like you are scrubbing more area and taking more time, you will actually end up saving yourself effort and time.

Stained Grout is not the same as Dirty Grout

Another grout cleaning tip to keep in mind is that stained grout does not necessarily mean dirty grout. You may find as you progress in your grout cleaning project that there are particularly bad stains that you just cannot get out of the grout lines. One of the reasons we clean our grout is to remove bacteria and mold that could cause illness or allergy problems. These stains that are hard to get out are not saturated with bacteria or mold. They are harmless to your health and you should keep that in mind as you clean. You may never be able to remove a stain, but that does not mean that your family’s health is at risk. If you have a stain that cannot be removed with any of your cleaning efforts, then your only choice may be to remove that section of grout and start fresh.

You Do Not Have to Clean Grout By Hand

When most homeowners start to think about grout cleaning they immediately think about cleaning grout by hand, but that is not the only way to get clean grout. There are two other grout cleaning methods that are worth mentioning and giving a try under the right circumstances. The first is a grout cleaning machine. You can purchase steam cleaners are other grout cleaning machines at department stores or large home improvement warehouses as well as from online retailers. You may even be able to purchase industrial grade equipment from a professional cleaning service that is going out of business. Grout cleaning machines use the power of steam and powerful scrub brushes to clean your grout better than you ever could be hand. The second alternative grout cleaning method is hiring a professional grout cleaner. Professional grout cleaners have access to all the best grout cleaning chemicals and grout cleaning equipment. The best part about hiring a professional grout cleaner is that you do not have to spend any of your valuable time on grout cleaning. For information about hiring a grout cleaner for your home, go here.

Apply Grout Sealer

The last grout cleaning tip that I have to share is actually a preventative measure that every homeowner should take in order to avoid a lot of difficult grout cleaning down the road. Grout sealer is a product that is applied to grout after it cures or dries. The grout sealer will protect your grout from outside influences by creating a barrier that water or dirt cannot penetrate. There are different types of grout sealer to choose from depending on what kind of tile you are sealing, where the tile is, and what it will be exposed to. For more information on selecting the right grout sealer go here and for more information on how to apply grout sealer, go here.

Grout Cleaning

Featured

One of the most unpleasant cleaning chores that any homeowner must endure is grout cleaning. Not only is it hard to clean grout, but it is hard on the body. Grout is a porous substance so dirt and liquids that cause stains can get down into the pores and really discolor or damage your grout. Then, it is difficult to get the dirt and stains out of the deep pores. In order to scrub grout clean, you need to kneel on hard tile floors which are hard on your knees and back. There is nothing pleasant about grout cleaning, but it is something that is very necessary for several reasons. This article will give you some information on how to clean grout by hand, alternative grout cleaning methods, why grout cleaning is important, grout cleaning tips, and preventative grout maintenance.

How to Clean Grout

  1. Prepare the surface
  2. Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment
  3. Apply grout cleaner
  4. Scrub grout
  5. Rinse and wipe clean

Prepare the Surface

You want to make sure that there is nothing on the tile floor that could make your grout lines worse if you scrub it into the porous substance. For that reason, you want to make sure to sweep the tile surfaces you will be cleaning before you start grout cleaning. Remove as much dust and debris as possible before you apply any grout cleaners or do any scrubbing. I find it best to run a vacuum over the tiled area before I start in order to remove hair and other dust that might settle in corners. If you leave dust on the tile or grout lines, the dirt could get pushed down into the grout when you start scrubbing and make things worse.

Wear the Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment

Many homeowners do not think about the possible health risks of working with household cleaners or the contamination you might find in your grout. Nevertheless, there are things that you should protect yourself from by wearing the right pieces of personal protective equipment. For example, you should wear gloves when cleaning grout so that you do not come into contact with any of the bacteria that might be growing in your grout lines and to protect your skin from getting dried out by the chemicals you use to clean your grout lines. If you happen to be using a harsh chemical grout cleaner like chlorine bleach then you should also consider wearing a face mask so that you do not breathe in harmful fumes. However, the best respiratory protection that you can give yourself when grout cleaning is proper ventilation. Make sure that you open a window and have air moving through the room when cleaning with harsh chemicals.

Apply Grout Cleaner

Your next step will be to apply your chosen grout cleaner to the grout lines. There are many different kinds of grout cleaners to choose from and the method of application and the amount of time you let the cleaner sit before scrubbing depend on that choice. You can get more information on the best grout cleaner here. The best grout cleaners will be thick enough to stay on the grout lines for ten to twenty minutes without running off. That time gives the cleaner time to penetrate the porous grout and start to break up grime and stains. If you choose not to use a thick grout cleaner, then you will spray or pour your grout cleaner on. With these types of grout cleaner, you should saturate the tiles area so that there will not be many places for the grout cleaner to migrate to. The object is to have the grout exposed to grout cleaner for as long as possible.

Scrub Grout

Once you let the grout cleaner seep in, you next step will be to scrub your grout lines. You want to make sure that you choose the right kind of scrub brush. Click here for more information on the best grout cleaning tools. The most important thing to remember when scrubbing grout lines is to never scrub along the grout lines in back and forth motions. Instead, you should use circular scrubbing motions as you move along the grout lines. If you scrub back and forth straight along the grout lines your forward scrubbing motion will dislodge dirt from the grout and then your backward scrubbing motion will deposit the dirt right back in the grout. If you scrub in a circular motion, each scrubbing action will dislodge dirt and the dirt can be deposited out on top of the tiles before you move on to a new section of grout.

Rinse and Wipe Clean

The last step in grout cleaning is to rinse the cleaned area and then wipe away any residue. I usually rinse first with plain water and a mop and then use a cloth cleaning pad to wipe away any cleaner residue and dry the tile. Once the tile and grout are rinse and dry you will be able to see if there are any areas that need more attention. If you have used a lot of cleaner, it is probably a good idea to rinse the mop in a sink or bathtub rather than a bucket so that you are not contaminating the tiled floor over again with each pass of the mop.

Alternative Grout Cleaning Methods

The steps described above are if you want to scrub your grout by hand. Cleaning grout by hand is probably the most effective way to make sure that the grout is really clean, but it is hard on the body because you have to spend a good deal of time on your knees on hard tiled floors. In addition, hand cleaning of tile grout is quite time consuming. Therefore, some homeowners look for alternative grout cleaning methods that allow them to clean their grout from a standing position and in less time. There are two alternative grout cleaning methods that we will discuss here including grout cleaning machines and professional grout cleaning services.

Grout Cleaning Machines


If you do not want to work on your hands and knees and are looking for a faster way to clean tile grout, then you should consider using a grout cleaning machine. These floor cleaning machines can be purchased from various retailers. The first step when using a grout cleaning machine is to apply the grout cleaner to the floor. The next step is to bring in the floor cleaner. These machines usually work similarly to the way a carpet shampooer works by applying a stream of hot water or steam under a circular curtain brush. Rotating brushes inside the curtain scrub the tile and grout lines and the waste water is sucked into a collection tank. The powerful force of the mechanical brushes and the hot steam both contribute to the power of grout cleaning machines. In addition, the brushes are large and you can scrub multiple grout lines at one time cutting the time it takes to clean an entire tiled room drastically.

Professional Grout Cleaning

If you do not want to take even the small amount of time that is required to use a grout cleaning machine, then you might be interested in grout cleaning services. Professional cleaning companies offer services that will clean both the tile and grout in all types of rooms and situations. The cost of paying a professional will vary depending on the size of the room, the type of room, and how dirty the tile and grout are to begin with. Bathrooms with many nooks and crannies will be more expensive than a large open room with no obstructions. Rooms on the second floor will be more expensive, and rooms that are particularly dirty might cost more as well. When hiring a professional grout cleaning service, be sure to check references and ask if the company is insured and bonded. Any reputable grout cleaning professional will not have a problem with providing you with the names of former customers and proof of insurance. For more information on specific questions to ask when hiring a grout cleaning service and the potential costs of the services go here.

Special Considerations for Cleaning Colored Grout

While most tiled areas have grout that is white or slightly off white, there are certain situations where the grout might be a more vibrant color. Black grout with white tiles is one popular configuration. Other rooms will have lightly colored tiles and darker shades of the same color for the grout. When cleaning colored grout, there are a few details that you should be aware of. Colored grout gets dirty just as easily as white grout, but you cannot always use the same grout cleaners. You always need to test any cleaner that you plan to use on colored grout in a small inconspicuous area so that you can make sure that the cleaner will not fade the colored grout. Bleach products especially run the risk of fading or damaging colored grout. Unfortunately, bleach based grout cleaners are often the most effective. For more information on colored grout and how to clean colored grout, go here.

Why is Grout Cleaning Important?

Grout cleaning is unpleasant, so you may be tempted to not put the time and effort into the task that is required. That is, until you hear all the reasons that grout cleaning is so important.

  • Health benefits
  • Aesthetics and decorating considerations
  • Brightens and enlarges a room
  • Increases resale value

Health Benefits

It is sometimes disturbing to think about the germs and bacteria that are on every surface in your home, but they are there and any conscientious homeowner and family member would want to minimize our exposure. If every hard surface can host bacteria and germs, imagine what a porous substance like grout can host. If you have children or pets, they spend a lot of time on the ground and they are constantly being exposed to those health risk factors. That fact should keep you motivated to clean your grout on a regular basis. In addition to the common bacteria that might find their way into your grout, mold is another concern. The pores in grout can stay wet and get warm which is the perfect environment for growing mildew and mold. Family members with allergies can have serious allergic reactions to mold and a dirty grout line poses a great health risk to those individuals.

Aesthetics

When the contractor or interior designer that built your house chose the tile and grout for the kitchen and bath areas, those choices were conscious ones. The color of the grout was chosen to compliment that color or pattern of the tile and vice versa. If you let your grout get too dirty, the aesthetics of the room are compromised and you are not getting the full affect of the decorating choices. In addition, clean grout just looks better than dirty grout. Whenever you have guests in your home, you will not be ashamed to show them into a bathroom or let them use your kitchen. Clean grout makes you feel better about the cleanliness of your home and how it looks to others who visit.

Brightens and Enlarges

Another benefit of regular grout cleaning is that the lighter color of clean grout makes any room look brighter and larger than if the grout lines are allowed to blacken. If you want to make it seem like your bathroom or shower area is larger, then one quick fix is to lighten the color of the walls and specifically the grout lines. The same holds true for any tiled area in your home like a foyer or sun room. This benefit of grout cleaning can be important if you are showing your house to prospective buyers. You want the spaces to seem as large as possible when a prospective buyer is walking through and the subtle difference between clean and dirty grout lines can make a big difference in their impression of the size of a room.

Increases Resale Value

Taking that a step further, clean grout lines can help to improve the resale value of your home and your success in selling in general. By making rooms look larger and giving a better first impression, clean grout lines help to get people interested in your home. But they can also help when a prospective buyer starts to get more serious about buying. If they notice that the grout lines in your home are dirty, then that tells them you do not care very much about the appearance of your home. If you care so little for something so obvious that everyone can see, then you are more likely to avoid and ignore problems that people can’t see like water damage in a basement, roof problems, or clogged gutters. Dirty grout lines give a generally bad impression to a prospective buyer and they will be less likely to buy your home than if there were no obvious problems like dirty grout lines.

Grout Cleaning Tips

Now that you have some information about how to clean grout and why grout cleaning is so important, I thought I would share a few grout cleaning tips that I have learned through my years of grout cleaning experience. First, the key to getting clean grout lines is to never let them get dirty in the first place. In other words, regular grout cleaning is imperative. Your grout will suffer if you let the grout cleaning go for weeks and weeks and then have a marathon grout cleaning session. It is much better to clean on a regular schedule so that no area of tile grout in your home ever gets too dirty. For example, I have a grout cleaning schedule for my shower which is the hardest area of tile grout to keep clean in my home. I spend an extra five minutes in the shower each morning cleaning a section of the tile grout so that the entire shower gets cleaned once a week. The other tiles surfaces in my home get cleaned on a weekly schedule. As long as I stick to these schedules, no grout I my home every gets to dirty and it is never too hard to clean it. The longer dirt and grime sit on your grout, the deeper it gets into the pores and the harder it is to remove it later.

A second tip would be to use the mildest grout cleaner that you can in order to get the job done. There is no reason to use a chlorine bleach grout cleaner when a mixture of vinegar, water, and dish soap will do. Vinegar is a wonderful grout cleaner and inexpensive so it encourages you to keep your regular grout cleaning schedule. I find that once you have a clean slate, you can keep your tile grout clean with relatively mild chemicals. The mild grout cleaners will cause less damage to your grout and will wear off the grout sealer at a slower rate.

Grout Cleaning Preventative Measures

As I have said before, the best way to keep your grout clean is to never let it get dirty. There is some preventative grout maintenance that you can do to this end. Grout sealer is the number one defense you have against dirty grout. Sealer should be applied as soon after your grout cures as possible so that the grout is exposed to the elements for as short a time as possible. Whether the sealer is a topical sealer that sits on top of the grout or a penetrating one that fills in the pores, the sealer prevents dirt and grime from entering the pores and making the grout appear dirty. However, just because you have grout sealer on your grout that does not mean you can stop grout cleaning. You still want to clean the surface of the grout to make sure that it looks good. Of course, sealer does not last forever and needs to be reapplied occasionally. For more information about selecting a grout sealer go here and click here for more information on how to apply grout sealer.