How to Effectively Clean Stained Tile & Grout

How in the world did this happen? It seems like just yesterday your tile and grout were looking brand new but now they have gotten 5 shades darker out of nowhere?

The process of accumulating dirt and grime is a slow one, but you're not the only one and it's
certainly not your fault!

Most people all groan at the same thing; either "I'm going to have to spend hours scrubbing each inch of my grout by hand" or "I'll have to hire an expensive service to come restore my tile shine for me." I'm here to tell you that it doesn't need to be like that.

Cleaning tile and grout can be annoying, but with a few baseline rules and tips it can be much less painful than you'd think.
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Tile grout is a blend of granules assembled into an adhesive mix that binds your tile squares together. Grout comes in all varieties and can be seen throughout a home in many different places.

Even though it doesn't appear this way to the naked eye, grout is full of little nooks and crannies on a micro level that make it a haven for dirt, dust, and mold accumulation. It's a necessary evil of having tile anything.

The slow buildup of grime over time in grout is what causes it to darken over time. But the good thing is that (in most cases) it’s not permanent!


  1. Scrubbing harder is not always the best way! Even though your grout is hard, it can still be worn away by going too hard on it. Always use a soft bristled brush... never wire or steel wool! You'll notice that some of the time, stains come up much easier than you'd think. 1. Go easy 2. Assess progress 3. Modify strategy. Never go harder than you need to!
  2. Choose the right product! Be mindful of the types of cleaners that you use to clean your grout! Never use anything that is too harsh. Lots of products that aren’t meant for this type of cleaning can damage your tile or grout permanently.
  3. Test your product and strategy a little at a time. Don't dive right into cleaning without giving your method a pilot test first. Not all grouts, tiles, and staining are the same, and some may work better on some types than other. Try it out in a small area first before you go to town.


vinegar cleaner, vinegar cleaner homemade, vinegar cleaner solution, vinegar cleaner recipe
White vinegar is the tried and true method for cleaning grout and tile. It works good and is very popular for a few reasons:
  1. It's dirt cheap.
  2. It's available everywhere.
  3. It's "NATURAL".
  4. It works (most of the time).
  5. It doesn't leave a residue.
Mix up the following ingredients to make a basic tile and grout cleaner:
  • Three cups of water
  • Three cups of white vinegar.
  • 1/2 tablespoon of dish detergent.
The steps are simple:
  1. Take these three ingredients and mix them together in a spray bottle.
  2. Spray the solution on an area of grout or tile that you’d like to clean.
  3. Use a brush to gently scrub the areas to help aggravate the dust and dirt.
  4. Let it sit on the grout for about 10 minutes.
  5. Scrub again gently.
  6. Wipe up the solution and rinse the area of floor.
**Do not use vinegar on natural stone surface or surfaces with a finished surface which can be removed.


baking soda hydrogen peroxide, baking soda hydrogen peroxide cleaner
The next suggestion is another commonly used tried and true cleaner. You will want this one to be a paste- not a solution like most cleaners.

Combine the following:
  • One cup of baking soda
  • 1/3 cup of household, consumer grade hydrogen peroxide solution.
Hydrogen peroxide is a relatively short-acting chemical, so the batch that you make will need to be used pretty quickly. The steps are simple:
  1. Apply the paste to the areas that you are cleaning.
  2. Use a brush (tooth brushes work well) to scrub in the paste and clean the surface.
  3. After you've sufficiently scrubbed it, let it set for around 12 minutes.
  4. Rinse and dry... repeated if needed.


Regular household bleach does a good job of whitening stains, but it requires the same level of caution that bleach should in any situation. Bleach has an irritating odor and can burn the eyes in high enough concentrations just from being near it. Also, it'll lighten the color of almost anything it touches, especially clothing! Exercise caution!

Generally, it would be a good idea to try and use other cleaning approaches to clean the tile and grout, and use the bleach method as a ‘touch up’ only on the areas that need it.

Do not mix bleach with other cleaners, especially ammonia based ones! You are asking for trouble if you do this! Ammonia reacts with bleach to form a noxious gas which is harmful.

Combine the following things together:
  • 2/3 cup of household bleach.
  • 2 1/2 cups of water.
Mix these ingredients together and apply to areas of tough staining on tile or grout. A little scrubbing may help, but generally just letting the solution sit for 10 to 15 minutes can really let the magic happen on its own.

Once you're finished- clean up the solutions, and then rinse and clean the tile as needed. Bleach can leave a residue on surfaces when it dries.

I hope that these tips and strategies area found by you to be useful in cleaning your grout. Just spending time working on areas that need it once in a while can do wonders for ensuring that your tile and grout stays pearly white, year round! Any questions? Feel free to head over to Maids of Glory and drop a note!

About Author

Scott Lakey is the owner of Maids of Glory, a residential cleaning business located in the Tampa Bay area. He is a Florida native and enjoys learning about and writing content related to home maintenance & improvement, technology, entrepreneurship, and finance. Maids of Glory Social Channels: Facebook, Twitter, Google+
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