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How to Clean Dirty Grout with Homemade Cleaner | Ask This Old House

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Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva explains how to clean dirty tile grout using only household supplies.

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Time: 4-5 hours

Cost: $0 and up

Skill Level: Beginner

Tools:
Stiff scrub brush []
Sponge []
(OPTIONAL) Grout knife []

Shopping List:
Dish soap []
Baking soda []
White vinegar []
Grout sealer []

Steps for Cleaning Grout with Homemade Cleaner:
1. Fill a cup with warm water.
2. Add the baking soda to the cup to give the mixture grit.
3. Add a few drops of the dish soap to the cup. Mix everything together.
4. Pour the vinegar along the edges of the grout. Don’t do too much at once or the floor will be really wet and more difficult to work on.
5. Pour the mixture on top of the vinegar along the grout lines.
6. Scrub the grout lines with the stiff scrub brush.
7. After scrubbing, let the mixture sit for about five minutes. Then, scrub it again with the brush.
8. Wipe off the excess vinegar mixture with a sponge. Allow the floor to dry. It could take about 45 minutes.
9. (OPTIONAL) If that doesn’t work, try gently scraping the top layer of the grout with a grout knife. They’re meant for removing grout, so do this carefully.
10. Apply the grout sealer along all the grout lines.
11. Allow the sealer to dry for 3-4 hours. Then apply a second coat.
12. Repeat this sealing process every year, especially for light colored grout.

Resources:
Tom’s homemade solution for cleaning grout included concentrated dish soap, baking soda, and white vinegar. These can found at most grocery and department stores.

Rather than using a toothbrush, Tom recommends using a cleaning brush [] with stronger bristles. They sell specialty grout cleaning brushes at most home centers in the Tile aisle. The one Tom used in the video is manufactured by QEP ().

If the stains are really deep in the grout, Tom recommends using a grout removal tool and lightly scraping it against the grout to remove the layer of grout that’s been stained. Do this cautiously. The grout removal tool Tom used [] in the video is also manufactured by QEP ( ).

Once the grout is clean, Tom suggests that sealing the grout once per year will prevent it from staining again. Tom used a TileLab Grout Sealer [], which is manufactured by Custom Building Products () and can be found at most home centers.

Homeowners have a virtual truckload of questions for us on smaller projects, and we’re ready to answer. Ask This Old House solves the steady stream of home improvement problems faced by our viewers—and we make house calls! Ask This Old House features some familiar faces from This Old House, including Kevin O’Connor, general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, and landscape contractor Jenn Nawada.

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About Ask This Old House TV:
Homeowners have a virtual truckload of questions for us on smaller projects, and we’re ready to answer. Ask This Old House solves the steady stream of home improvement problems faced by our viewers—and we make house calls! Ask This Old House features some familiar faces from This Old House, including Kevin O’Connor, general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, and landscape contractor Jenn Nawada.

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How to Clean Dirty Grout with Homemade Cleaner | Ask This Old House

 

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170 thoughts on “How to Clean Dirty Grout with Homemade Cleaner | Ask This Old House

  1. Use a spray bottle

  2. I stupidly opted for ceramic tile in my kitchen. They allegedly sealed the grout, but it didn’t take long for kitchen grease to turn it brown. At first I tried scrubbing it but eventually decided that dark brown grout looks OK, though it took a year or so for it to become uniform in color. The flooring people told me that they don’t install grouted tile in kitchens anymore because staining is inevitable.

    HGTV loves grouted tile because it looks great when newly installed, but I cringe when I see it over the kitchen stove. In areas with iron in the water, tiled shower stalls can become a cleaning chore. If you prefer easy maintenance over glamour, don’t choose grouted tile!

  3. Should have been dark grout! No problem then!

  4. And she’s worried about GROUT! LOL

  5. Today is May 17, 2020. I am letting you know that this is working; bleach and water never did, but this is the bomb. I think that the vinegar is the m.uscle here with baking soda. So happy

  6. Subscriber to the magazine since its inception. I pass the magazine on to others as well. This video illustrates why.
    It’s the technique…..simple household items, no need to buy fancy, you have it already in your cupboard. Something tells me the grout brush shown is going to fly off the store shelves.

  7. I tried vinegar on my shower grout…a couple weeks later my grout was coming out in chunks. I asked a contractor and he said vinegar was the absolute worst thing to use on grout.

  8. Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda using a tooth brush. Let it sit for half an hour then wipe with a damp cloth. Will look like new after it dries. Already did it, worked great.

  9. You should see my white grout, all black, 5000 square feet of it, gonna buy some vinegar in bulk

  10. Get a guy to scrub the grout

  11. Good old vinyl

  12. Once a year? That’s why I bought and applied ‘Stonewalled’ for the new house we had built last year. Between the master bath floor, walk in tile shower, the guest bathroom floor, a large grouted kitchen backsplash, and utility room floor, it would have been a full time chore. Hopefully, it will last as promoted and be worth the expense (and the 40 hrs. my time).

  13. 0:40 uhhhuhhhhuh

  14. Excellent. Thank you so much!

  15. That is fan-freaking-tastic! I have all of those ingredients, and I’ve been trying to clean my grout for two days now, and it’s not much better. So this looks like it should solve my problem! Hallelujah!

  16. I’ve tried homemade and professional cleaners and have finally settled on using grout paint. Much faster and easier. IMHO.

  17. I love TOH, and I did try this solution for my stained grout, but it did NOT work for me at all. Booo.

    1. That grout doesn’t even look dirty compared with how bad I’ve let mine get in the past.

  18. I would never take advice on cleaning from someone with such filthy fingernails

  19. my grout solution.. linoleum. (not vinyl)

  20. My grout is stained with rust from our well water. How do I remove the stains. I have the sealer to use after; but I need to remove the rust first. I have tried CLR, hard water cleaners, lime deposit. Can you help?

    1. For iron stains in my shower stall I use The Works from the dollar store. You should try it on your grout. It works better than any expensive rust cleaner I’ve tried.

  21. I sure wish you would demonstrate it.

  22. Does anyone know if this works on grout mold in the shower?

  23. Yeah, so what kind of sealer was that exactly?
    Notice how it was carefully held with the label away from the viewer.

    1. Grout and tile sealers are similar to nail polish but much thinner so it can fill the porosity.

  24. At last ,some one ,knows what he is talking about !

  25. Thank You

  26. her husband is in the living room watching netflix and drinking beer

    1. Hahaha that made me chuckle a bit ;D

  27. good vid. any reason, why he didn’t mix the vinegar with the Bakn powder/water/soap mixture?

  28. I had BathFitters install a $4000 shower in my house ( took 2 days, don’t ask)
    They said white vinegar would be enough to keep it clean. WRONG
    The caulking is a magnet for mold, and their list of recommended cleaners
    aren’t powerful enough for my well water
    residue. Wonder if Tom would drop what he’s doing to offer some advice? 🙄

    1. Toilet cleaners with hydrochloric acid will instantly get rid of rust stains, but you must must must rinse it well off of your drain ( and then treat vit with baking soda solution and rinse) otherwise it will corrode. Also spray down your shower/ bath with isopropyl alcohol ( if you can get it now because of covid) after you shower- it will keep mildew away for good. Try it.

  29. Oh Hi Tom

  30. It brings a ray of sunshine to my heart knowing Ask this old house is still around.

    1. Yes, it certainly does 🤗

  31. I am glad the team is still going strong. I grew up with This Old House. Best wishes to Tom Silva teaching America how to do it right

  32. This cleansing scheme is so great so houses with septic tanks

  33. Tommy, If there were a whole lot more professionals like you, this world would be a MUCH better place! Keep up the good work. /s/ Paul (born in Worcester, Massachusetts)

  34. I heard vinegar is bad for grout and will discolor.

  35. Baking soda and peroxide will do the trick!

  36. 1:15 – LOL she pours the vinegar on the clean grout.

    Good video though. Thanks for the tips.

  37. me just paint it white

  38. Good tips!

  39. When I think of scenarios where I’d want to pick up the red phone and call Tom Silva, “my floor is dirty” doesn’t come to mind.

  40. Could not have come at a better time. Was using bleach yesterday to clean my grout and nearly passed out. Never heard of grout sealer. More online shopping from the hardware store 😀

  41. That grout, after 4 years, was barely darker than the original showed under the mat. Most dirty grout cleaning is for much much worse problems with dirty grout…..this just wasn’t a good enough example of dirty grout to me…….so I couldn’t deem is as useful. However, I did pick up the suggestion on the grout sealer so I’ll use that after I apply my new layer of grout over the disgusting one.But I need to find the mood to do that new quick grout layer….. most times I’d rather stamp out campfires with my face over finding the excitement on putting some muscle into grout on the dirty as Hell grout no guest is allowed to see when they visit the Loo..lol

  42. I did use a pool chlorine and thin brush-2X. Smell of cource. Grout was almost black from a previous owner. Now it is pink again. 🙂

  43. Cleaning my BIG 10.5 cast iron griddle sweeten also.well THIS OLD HOUSE after all these years come to it’s senses..reaching out to.. WITH ME NOW.. H A R V E Y.. POST. watching on Pluto old sorta new vids..ur thinking about asking Kevin go out long for coffee. load the trucks zoom away..hey where u goi..not surprised THE KEVIN wearing sunglasses for the shine of his BIG BUCKS Tom Cruise smile.lets do lunch tom ..how bout u get coffee Kev..guys, yes, coffee Kev..yes I’m available just give me a few minutes get up those rickety stairs, yow..boys all together minus Kev ..oh that musta hurt.sure I passed mechanical aptidude test..thingamabob..correct.. again H A R V E Y..I also passed sum kidney stones..

  44. White vinegar good on toilet rust will help keep in control and if not bad disappear…now that’s done..after me .slowly accentuate..H A R V E Y.. the now again remember accentuate H A R V E Y..GOOD sure u feel better…

  45. I wish I knew what Tommy forgot!

  46. NEVER said what the sealer accomplishes.

  47. So where is the giant warning saying DO NOT POUR VINEGAR ON MARBLE TILE? These are clearly ceramic tile and won’t etch, but they ‘look’ enough like marble to trick some people into doing this on a stone floor. Would be a massive mistake, especially given most marble floors are polished and etching would be very visible and permanent.

  48. “So my husband and I debated a lot over the tile and I want to tell the whole world that he was wrong and I was right.”

    1. And that pretty much sums up that debate!

  49. How can I make homemade grout?

  50. Great to know Tom, thanks but seems to me that that info could have been done in an email? How far did Tom have to travel to her house?

  51. In opening scene great work of 2nd cameraman behind the door taking shots off the mirror

  52. Scrubble Bubbles tub cleaner and an old electric toothbrush works wonders!

  53. Vinegar an acid will de brown many things. As a former professional carpet cleaner, we use an acid additive basically a commercial vinegar to bring the rinse water to 5 pH this leaves the carpet rinsed correctly and at a correct pH and no browning occurs with all soaps removed. The key here with carpet cleaning is the soaps used are pre-sprayed than rinsed with the machine.

    1. @bubba lee no I am as dumb as a rock, read what you wrote, you talk about carpet, i said he was not cleaning carpet. I have wood floors so I agree to let you have your day.

    2. @Eileen Haughton The chemicals Tom used were basically pH based, vinegar is an acid, baking soda is a neutralizer, the soap was for any grease attached, basic chemistry. The baking soda has fine particulates and as Tom said was used as an additional scrubbing action. Why do you think he used these products and suggested what was needed was probably in the pantry? With most cleaning, it is a pH based products used if bacterial removal is not needed. In the end, this was a green cleaning, you should take notice of that. Note as well he had the woman put the acid, vinegar on the grout first this de-browns the grout. Had you watched the video, looked at my post took a minute to think this should have been obvious to you if you had any basic chemistry knowledge.

    3. He wasn’t cleaning carpet.

  54. I had that same bathroom sink and vanity from Home Depot.

  55. hi i have a question when you make a roof. for example an 8 12 how many inches is per one foot ??

  56. ZEP 505 IS BETTER.

  57. That floor would not be clean enough for Joan Crawford.

  58. What can we do about shower caulk that is discolored due to hard water? This shower was caulked using a clear caulk and now it is yellowed and brown…help, please.

    1. NOODLES, I was afraid of that…check’s in the mail…🙃

    2. Karen…scrape it off then apply white silicone seal. That’ll be $20. please.

  59. Bought a grout cleaning rush that attaches to the end of a screw on broom handle and used a spray grout cleaner.It was the easiest grout cleaning I ever did!No kneeling down!

  60. Vinegar will dissolve the grout. The sodium bicarbonate neutralizes the vinegar. Use ammonia it cleans without damaging the grout.

    1. The zep 505 product contains toxic material which has skin and nervous system toxicity. Benzenesulfonic acid, C10-16-alkyl derivs see Msds .
      NH3 is a respiratory irritant. Both products require Personnel protective equipment.
      Use what you feel safe using.

    2. I tried ammonia months ago. ZEP505 works far better. Let it sit for one hour then sponge it away. Zep also works better than tom silva’s formula. I tried BOTH in a test today.

  61. I cringed when she put the vinegar right on top of the toilet. Now that thing is going back in the pantry…

    1. Jason Bozarth I was thinking the same thing.

    2. Hopefully she’ll leave it in the bathroom for cleaning! : o

  62. Basically just Comet. Duh. Common sense. What the hell was she using before? Nothinggggggggggg. She had never gotten down and scrubbed that with a toothbrush. I call BS.

    1. Nick…comet is good but ZEP505 is better. I tested BOTH along with ammonia AND silva’s concoction. Zep beat them ALL.

  63. Honestly, I have watched TOH since the 80’s and ATOH since it started and this has got to be one of the lamest segments I have ever seen! Asking Tom Silva to clean your grout is like asking Chip Foose to wash your car! She claims they installed their own bathroom but has no idea how to care for the grout? WTH is wrong with people nowadays?!

    1. Jerry’s ink…she’s f-cked in the head ‘coz she’s a democrat.

  64. He really made her get on her knees a lot

  65. Hot water is the key

  66. I use toothpaste and a bristle brush and elbow grease. Looks awesome when finished.

  67. My video on how to wire common fixtures (lights/fans) where there are no preexisting wires

  68. TOH is really running out of ideas… Tommy is now a cleaning expert?

  69. She called Tom for that. I wonder how much Tom charge for that job.

    1. Would have been cheaper to get new tile. LOL

  70. This reminds me its almost time for my annual tile grout sealing to be done again. >_>

  71. I don’t have grout.

  72. Tommy for president 2020

  73. You know you made it when Tom goes through your pantry unsupervised.

  74. Love ask this old house

  75. WHERE IS ROGER?!!!

    1. Retired ,due to health but might see him occasionally. They have a new gal doing landscaping now.

  76. acetic acid + sodium bicarbonate = water + carbon dioxide + sodium acetate. Doesn’t do anything. Might as well use vinegar alone (which is acidic and will dissolve the top layer of the grout). Maybe the baking soda is to stop the reaction between the vinegar and grout?

    1. I’ve never understood this, people swear by it. The baking soda neutralizes the acidity of the vinegar, so what is it doing?

  77. A man coming over to instruct a woman how to clean and he got her even to say awesome 😂

  78. 1st world problems lol…i bought a house almost a year ago and it has tile all over and no matter after I mop and sweep it still looks dirty in the house. The tile is a bad choice for homeowners to make when putting in new floors. I’m going to get engineered wood floors and cover up all this tile. Hardwood or engineer made wood floors are the best buy to boost home value.

    1. putting hardwood over a tile floor is not the best way to boost home value. Maybe if you have crappy looking tile floors, but I can show you many kitchens with tile floors that you will drop the value by replacing with hard wood.

  79. This is fine on ceramic or porcelain tiles but don’t use it on natural stone. The vinegar is very acidic and it will etch marble and granite.

    1. You are so right Charles. We had 3300 sq. Ft. Of Capuchino marble installed. The installation was perfect but the installer used vinegar to clean it and it left etch marks and dull spots everywhere. Had to hire a marble & stone company to restore it and that was very expensive. Never use vinegar to clean grout between marble or stone.

    2. @Charles McBride You’re might be right I don’t have my test kit, however if it’s 2.5 you would not be able to use it plain on like vegetables straight. The dish soap I doubt is anything but neutral, the backing soda is the diluter. Neither of us can confirm anything thing here as of now anyway.

    3. @bubba lee straight vinegar is actually around 2.5 pH. That’s if you don’t dilute it but in the video Tommy added dish soap which is high pH, so the pH is probably closer towards being balanced.

    4. Charles McBride Vinegar is at about 5 pH if that helps only slightly less, than you would have with a hydroponic grow which is at about 6.5 pH. I don’t doubt your contention on natural stone. It just helps to know the pH.

  80. I heard that today’s modern grout doesn’t need sealer anymore!

  81. I love ATOH. I have learned a lot I wish I could work with them and learn the things like pro. Keep up the good work. Younis from Kashmir

  82. Wait, you have to re-seal grout, much like a granite counter-top?!

    1. XzTS Thank you!

    2. @Kathryn Willette
      Yes, granite countertops need to be sealed, either at the factory or at the installation site, and then reapplied monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually, or every few years depending on the sealant used

    3. XzTS granite top, too?!

  83. 💙i love this show! What channel is this old house on in Newark,texas?

  84. Does it only work on White vinegar?

    1. I haven’t tried but my impression would be that non-white vinegar might actually add stain.

  85. I have been viewing this old house TV channel for many years… Your channel has inspired me a lot and changed my life. I am going to do DIY projects and post video.. I posted sneak peek to my garage….please checkout when possible.

  86. Geez, Tommy probably had to show her how to make a sandwich after this.

  87. I think that I will never do that

  88. Tommy can build your house and clean it for you.

  89. White bathroom needs to be cleaned with bleach once a week… otherwise use earthtones with dark grout..

  90. Thanks TOH!

  91. He must be thinking ‘b##ch I ain’t scrubbing no floor’ lol

  92. You know your house is in house is in order when you have Tom Silva come over any the only thing for him to do is help clean the grout 😉

    1. We all do.

    2. Love Tom..

    3. Master carpenter baby!

  93. I use this recipe on my false teeth all the time. Works like a charm and the ladies are so impressed.

    1. But do you seal it at least once a year after cleaning?

  94. This woman’s mother should be ashamed. Takes Tom Silva to teach her how to use baking soda and vinegar.

  95. Tom silva the handsome man with the soft spoken voice and kind face always good shows tom

  96. Your older but your one handsome older white man I think your real cute iv Ben watching your show for many years and your still a handsome man soft spoken and nice

    1. Maybe if your lucky Tommy will let you swing his hammer bud. Grip it and whip it around? Maybe a few nut tugs while your at it? Take it easy on him though he’s in his 70’s, don’t wanna hurt the poor guy.

  97. PRETTY COOL

  98. Tom, Thank you. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time after making a comment asking for it! Thanks again. Now maybe you could make one about the wall crack and back door problem I asked about? Hope you are all able to stay safe and healthy!!

  99. The blue lysol toilet bowl cleaner works great. Put a bead along the grout, let it set in for around 20 minutes, scrub with a toothbrush then wipe up. Works like a charm

  100. What’s a baking sodarh?

    1. Loool

  101. This is my favorite show. These guys are the best!

  102. Toilet bowl bleach works.

  103. Now….let’s take da grawt, and justttt move it ova about tree qwata.. niceeeee and easy….Tom Silva rocks

    1. I like the way he says cement: ” C’ment”
      Not here, of course,
      elsewhere. 😀

    2. @Flint Layfield yes Clint, every time, apparently you nevah heard a da Tom Silva contest, so go Fark yarself

    3. Brian Glade seriously, EVERY time?! 😂

  104. Love the shopping list and detailed instructions in the comments!!!

  105. Nice job Tom 👍

  106. What if the tiles surrounding the grout lines
    are white Carrara marble? Would it be safe on the marble to use the vinegar and baking soda with soap mixture?

    1. Use baking soda and hidrogen peroxide… make a 50/50 paste to brush your grout and rinse it using clear water… let it dry and seal it properly. This procedure only works for cementicious grouts.

    2. definitely keep vinegar or any harsh cleaners out of the picture, just use soap and a stiff brush

  107. I use a lot of different types of grouts but I feel the best if applicable is epoxy grout it’s not porous you don’t have to seal it and the tile will probably crack before the grout

    1. Mr FIXIT good suggestion but I’ve only had one tile guy that felt confident using the epoxy grout. It works great in the shower.

  108. seeing Tom in the this ild house house is the best thing ever

    1. old *

  109. Great tip. Gonna try this

  110. 4:07 shows barely any sealer out of the bottle…

    1. doesn’t take much for a small bathroom!

  111. toothpaste works pretty good too!

  112. 👍👍👍🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

  113. Best grout cleaner I’ve ever tried after trying everything is a steam cleaner with a small nozzle. Seriously. Nothing cleans like it. A cheap hand held one with a pointy nozzle will do. If you’re thinking about giving up, try that. And then you can paint the grout and seal if necessary.

    1. @John Mal And your statement Sir is 100% correct!

    2. @Chester Micek You are a 100% percent correct Chester! I own a cleaning company and Chester’s way is the way to do it. Try using that toothbrush nonsense on a 3600 sq. foot house. If this lady does this to the rest of her house she will need a chiropractor and some back surgery. Nice trick if you live in a 1 bedroom apartment. The video is ridiculous!

    3. I rented a steam cleaner from Home Depot & used it to clean the tile & grout in the bathroom, kitchen, and on the front porch. It worked like a champ & it was ten times less work than this toothbrush nonsense.

    4. shindanu I just use Green Label SteraSheen cleaner. It’s just a foodservice grade sanitizer that is powdered sodium hypochlorite, the same ingredient in bleach, but you can make it much more comcentrated. You can buy it online or at your nearest food service supply store. They are only $0.75 a bag.

    5. It’s might chip out like that. But yeah try that. Or go to a professional cleaning supply store and buy some of their soaps. Lol.

  114. Have any of you actually sealed your grout lines once a year?

    1. @Galen Caudill LOL!

    2. I just selaed my kitchen tile. First time in 5 years

    3. Same house since 2006, full of tile and negative to your question.

    4. Alan McCormick didn’t know it existed

  115. very easy indeed! 🙂

  116. My goodness Tommy is their anything you cant handle?

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