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 Services

For some homeowners, the time and effort it takes to clean your grout properly is just not worth it. The alternative these individuals is hiring a professional grout cleaning service. This is a third party vendor who comes into your home with their own equipment and their own grout cleaning chemicals. They take all waste that is generated with them and leave behind clean tile and grout. Before you decide whether a grout cleaning service is right for you, consider some of the pros and cons that are described below.

Pros

  • Saves time
  • Access to superior chemicals and equipment
  • Saves your body
  • Saves money when you combine with other professional cleaning services
Cons

  • Cost
  • Harsh chemicals and powerful equipment might damage your grout
  • Workers and equipment could leave stains in other areas of your home
  • You must let strangers into your home
Professional grout cleaning saves the homeowner time……but professional grout cleaning costs more money than cleaning your own grout.
Grout cleaning is a time consuming process and not every homeowner has the time to stick to an effective grout cleaning schedule or to clean your grout effectively even once. For those homeowners, hiring a professional grout cleaning service is the best way to clean grout in their home. The only time that needs to be carved out is the time it takes to make a few phone calls. The work can be done while you are out of the house at work or running errands and the professional grout cleaners will not affect your daily life at all.When you are trying to decide if you should clean your own grout, you need to decide how valuable your own time is in order to make an educated decision. If you estimate that it will cost less in the long run to hire a professional than to waste several hours of your week on the task, then a professional service is a good idea. If, however, you have lots of free time and little disposable income; you might decide that even though a professional grout cleaner could do the job faster, you are better off spending the time to do the job yourself.
Professional strength grout cleaners and industrial grout cleaning equipment are more effective……but harsh professional strength chemicals and powerful industrial equipment may damage or discolor your grout lines or tile.
The chemicals and equipment that a professional grout cleaning company has access to are far superior to any of the grout cleaners or grout cleaning tools that the average homeowner has in their possession. The grout cleaning chemicals are stronger and more effective and the grout cleaning machines can apply much more force and speed with their mechanical brushes than any person can with a scrub brush wielded by the hand. If you have really dirty grout lines then the only option may be to use the services of a professional grout cleaning company in order to get back to a good starting place where you will be able to clean your grout by hand. Most homeowners feel it is worth the investment in a single professional grout cleaning.Whenever you use a new grout cleaner on your tile or grout, you always want to test it in a small inconspicuous area to make sure that there is no affect on the color or consistency of the grout. Professional strength chemicals run a greater risk of harming your grout than most over the counter grout cleaners, so you want to make sure the efforts of the professional grout cleaning company do not cause more damage than they are trying to correct. The powerful scrub brushes can cause similar problems. You may scrub so hard with mechanical scrubbing that the grout starts to crumble and disintegrate. Damages of this type are not the fault of the professional cleaning service and you will not be compensated or have your money refunded.
Professional grout cleaning prevents injury or sore muscles ……but professional grout cleaners could leave stains on your carpets or other floors.
When you clean your grout by hand you often do this on your hands and knees. This posture is hard on your knees and back because you tiled floors are hard and you have to lean over your work. You may not feel the ill effects while you are cleaning or immediately afterward, but definitely by the next day. In addition, the repeated scrubbing actions will cause the muscles in your arms to ache. If you suffer from a bad back or chronic pain from arthritis it might be worth it to pay the money for a professional grout cleaning service in order to avoid more pain.Professional grout cleaners use grout cleaning machines that are hooked up to a water tank and a waste water tank outside of your home. That means that they must run hoses from a truck outside to the room where they are using the grout cleaning machine. If those hoses are not properly cleaned then it is possible that they could leave stains on your carpets or other floor surfaces between the front door and the tiles room you are cleaning. In addition, the work boots worn by your professional grout cleaners might leave stains or marks on your carpets as well.
Professional grout cleaning service could save money in the long run……but you have to let strangers into your home when you hire professional grout cleaners.
If you decide to pay a professional grout cleaning service, you might end up saving money on other professional cleaning services. For example, if you pay to clean the tile and grout in one room, a professional cleaner might give you a discount on a second room or on carpet shampooing in another area of your house. You will probably be paying someone to clean your carpets anyway. Paying for that service a la carte will be more expensive so using the professional grout cleaning service ends up saving you money in the long run.Whenever you hire third party vendors to do work in your home you automatically assume a certain amount of risk when it comes to your belongings. Even though any reputable professional service company will vet its employees, there is no way to accurately predict human behavior. There is always a risk that something might be stolen while strangers are in your home. To protect yourself, you should probably put away anything small and valuable while grout cleaners are in your home to remove temptation.

How to Hire a Grout Cleaning Service

If you have weighed the pros and the cons and decided that it is in your best interest to hire a professional grout cleaner then you may be wondering how to go about it. You want to make sure that you get your money’s worth and that you do not have to do extra work once the professionals are done. In order to make sure you get the most for your money when hiring a grout cleaning service, follow these simple steps.

  1. Measure
  2. Ask for referrals
  3. Select at least three companies
  4. Call to get quotes
  5. Ask for proof of insurance and bond
  6. Check references
  7. Sign a contract

1. Measure

In order to get an accurate quote for grout cleaning services you need to know as much about the room you will be cleaning as possible. The first step is to get accurate measurements of the entire tiled surface. Take note of how much of the tile is on the floor and how much is vertical. If you do have tile on the walls, take some notes about how high up the wall it extends or if there are painted areas above or below. In your measurement notes you also want to indicate how dirty the tile is on a scale of one to ten. Some professional cleaning companies will charge more if the grout is really dirty so you might want to say something if things are particularly bad in case that has an effect on the price. You should also take note of how large the tiles are which will directly affect how many linear feet of grout needs to be cleaned.

2. Ask for referrals

If you are hiring a grout or tile cleaning service for the first time the best place to start looking for grout cleaners is your friends and neighbors. Ask the other homeowners that you know if they have ever hired a grout cleaning company and if so what they thought of the results. The input you get from your peers will be valuable in determining who you want to call for estimates.

3. Select at least three companies

After asking friends and neighbors for referrals, you can search for professional grout cleaners online or in the yellow pages. Many companies will not be listed as grout cleaners specifically. You want to look for companies that do floor care or general house cleaning and then check their websites and ads to see if grout cleaning is among the services that they offer. Once you have some results, decide on three companies that you want to move forward with. Three is a good number because it gives you enough variety without being overwhelming in terms of the amount of work you have to put in getting estimates. Narrow your list down to three by choosing companies that come highly recommended by your peers and the ones that have the most information about themselves available.

4. Call to get quotes

Once you have your list of three, start making calls or sending online requests for quotes. Make sure that you have all of the information you gathered in step one available when you make the calls so that you can get the most accurate quote possible. Be wary of companies that will quote you a price without asking any questions about the size of the room or condition of the grout. One size fits all quotes tend to have hidden charges or unreliable results. In this day and age, it is also prudent to be careful about how much information you give to a stranger over the phone. For example, there is really no reason for a company to ask for your credit card information in order to give you an estimate.

5. Ask for proof of insurance and bond

Before you make your final decision, make sure to ask all the candidates you are considering for proof of insurance and bond. Worker’s compensation insurance will protect their employees in case of injury and liability insurance will prevent a situation where you could be held liable for something like equipment breakage. If a company is bonded that means that you will be reimbursed for any damages done to your belongings or home that were caused by their negligence or incompetence. Having both a bond and insurance means that a company is responsible and moral. If a grout cleaner refuses to show you proof of insurance or a copy of their bond certificate, then you do not want to work with them.

6. Check references

In addition to making sure that they are covered by insurance and bond, you also want to make sure that they do good work. Ask every grout cleaning company that is giving you a quote to give you three references that you can check. Again, any reputable grout cleaner will have no problem with this request. Make sure that you call each reference and ask them all the same series of questions. Find out if they were satisfied with the work that was done and how it was to work with the company. Do not be afraid to ask about how much they paid and whether they thought it was worth the investment. Sometimes a company with better references will be worth a slightly higher quote.

7. Sign a contract

Once you have selected the professional grout cleaning service that is going to be working in your home, make sure that you sign some kind of contract or agreement with them. This contract is to protect both you and the professionals. Make sure that the agreement clearly states what you expectations are and what the grout cleaning service is promising. Make sure there is a clause that dictates exactly what will happen if the grout cleaning company fails to deliver what they promised so that you have every chance of getting your money back.