Cleaning the grouts of ceramic tiles is one easy way to improve the look of your ceramic tiles floor immensely. Even when the grouts have been sealed, chances are that, over time, dirt particles have adhered to the rough surface of the grouts. You want to remove them as easy as possible, but without de-coloring anything! Enters oxygen bleach, a powdered substance, that mixed with water and applied generously to the grouts, will dissolve stains almost magically without damaging any surrounding areas. To be on the completely sure side of cleaning, always refer to your tile and grouts manufacturer's recommendations and test any new cleaning solution first on a discreet and less visible area. This is valid especially if your ceramic tiles floor sports colored grouts! And / or if you have some exotic sort of ceramic tiles that differs from the more average ones. Grout and tile cleaning has always to be seen together as it is virtually impossible to avoid that the cleaning solution used on one touches also the other. Make sure that, whatever you use to clean, is safe for both, your tiles and grouts!

Cleaning a ceramic tiles floor and its grouts is a several steps process:

  • First, remove all loose dirt with the help of a broom or vacuum cleaner. If you use the later, make sure that you use it with the brush and not with the beater bar, as the later can easily damage your floor tiles.
  • Second, give the whole floor a good wash with all purpose floor cleaner and a microfiber mop to avoid to "wash" the dirt into the grouts.
  • Third, let the floor dry thoroughly. Forth, decide if you need to clean all grouts or if a bit of "spot cleaning" will do the trick.
For a full clean of all your ceramic tiles grouts your best bet would be using powdered oxygen bleach. It works like this: Mixed with water (following the instructions of the manufacturer) the powder releases free oxygen ions that will break up the molecules that make up the stains / dirt in your grouts. Once broken up, they are easy to wash and wipe away. Powdered oxygen bleach is non-toxic, doesn't produce any fumes and should be safe for all types of tiles and grouts, even colored ones. To be completely sure, remember to test the solution first in a hidden area before applying it to your whole floor. For maximum benefit and effect make sure that the cleaning solution really soaks the grouts and even stands in them. Reapply if the grouts seem to have dried out. Average soaking time should be between 30 and 60 minutes, but again, refer to the manufacturer's instructions. After the grouts have finished soaking you might want to give the whole floor a good scrub with a soft brush, paying special attention to the grouts. Mop up the water, again with a microfiber mop and rinse the floor repeatedly with clear water until all dirt has been removed. For especially dirty, neglected grouts you might have to repeat this procedure. If your floor is now perfectly clean and dry you might think of sealing your grouts to keep them like this and to make further cleaning even easier. Sealed grouts repel the dirt!

Spot cleaning your grouts
If, after having cleaned the floor, you discover that there are only a few stains, you might just want to spot clean your grouts instead of the "full monty". Always do the stain removal on dry tiles and grouts as any water will dilute the stain remover further and might prevent proper cleaning action.

Here some tips for specific stain types:

Unknown and general stains
Use the above mentioned solution of powdered bleach in water only in the spots necessary. White grouts (and only these!) can be also cleaned with a 1.5-3% solution of hydrogen peroxide. Apply generously on the stains and let soak for maximal 15 minutes. Rinse well with clean water. Never use hydrogen peroxide or normal household bleach on colored grouts as it will bleach the color out of them! Try normal shaving clean instead for colored grouts (always test first!)

Old hairspray stains
Mix fabric softener / conditioner and water 1:2 and let the stain soak well, scrub, rinse and repeat if necessary.

Black stains caused by growth of mildew, mold or mould
A weak bleach and water solution will do the trick on white grouts. (Do not use this on colored grouts!) Let the solution soak for a few minutes and rinse with clean water, scrub with a soft tooth brush if necessary.

Grease and oil
Mix washing soda with water to a paste and apply on the stain to "soak up" the grease.

Nail Polish
Only for white grouts: Nail polish is obviously best removed with proper nail-polish remover, apply directly and in small amounts to the stain and let sit for a few minutes. Then simply scrub the softened nail polish away.

Preventing dirt
An old saying goes like this: "Prevention is better then healing!" Therefor everything what you do to prevent your tiles and grouts getting dirty in the first place, will help you to spend less time on cleaning. So place door mats before all outside doors and encourage people to remove their shoes when entering. This way less dirt will enter your house or flat. Keep floors and tiles dry by heating and ventilating rooms adequately, this prevents the grow of mould in the grouts. If you live in a very humid climate, consider buying a dehumidifier. Clean drips, drops and spills up immediately, before they can harden and settle. Seal tiles and grouts after you have cleaned them thoroughly, avoid sealing in dirt!

Disclaimer: All precaution has been taken to verify the information in this article, but no responsibility can be taken for what you do with it!