Tile in your kitchen or bath is durable, beautiful, affordable, and generally easy to clean and maintain. Cleaning grout lines can be an entirely different matter. While grout can be light, dark, and every shade in between, the lighter the grout the more prone it is to staining. Grout is also porous, making stains from dirt, grime, and spills more likely—and more difficult to clean. Mold and mildew on the grout can also be a problem in steamy bathrooms.

So, when the grout in your tile floor becomes discolored from grime and dirt, what do you do? There are a number of ways to clean grout—the method you choose will largely depend on how dirty your grout is, and whether the discoloration is from a stain, regular dirt, or mold/mildew. As with anything, start with the easiest cleaning technique first—water and a stiff-bristled brush made specifically for grout. 

  • Next, try vinegar and warm water. Fill a spray bottle with equal parts of vinegar and warm water, shake well and spray your grout. Let it sit for at least five minutes, then use your scrub brush to determine whether the vinegar will remove the stains. 
  • Baking soda and water mixed to a thick paste can help remove tougher stains—simply apply the paste to the grout and scrub. After using vinegar or baking soda, rinse with plain water. 
  • Another “natural” solution for cleaning grout involves mixing hydrogen peroxide with baking soda. Apply the thick paste onto the grout with a toothbrush, then let it sit for at least ten minutes. Use the toothbrush to scrub the grout wiping clean with clear water. 
  • If you have white grout, you can apply bleach with a toothbrush into the grout lines, scrubbing as you go along. Make sure the area is well-ventilated and that you wear rubber gloves. 
  • You can mix Dawn dish soap, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide—one part each for the baking soda and peroxide, with a couple of squirts of dish soap. Apply to grout, wait ten minutes, and scrub. 
  • For tougher stains or really grimy grout, try using oxygen bleach. Oxygen bleach is generally sold in powdered form under brand names like OxiClean or Clorox OxiMagic. In a well-ventilated area, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application. Let the oxygen bleach solution for 10-15 minutes, then rinse with clean water. 
  • If you have a steamer, combining the hot steam with any of the methods above can lead to more success when cleaning your grout. 

If none of the more natural methods had much success, try a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Run it under water and squeeze, then use it on your grout, putting little muscle behind it. You can also combine any of the methods above with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser for tougher grout cleaning jobs. When all else fails, there are commercial grout cleaners that can quickly remove mold and mildew. These are generally spray and wipe or scour with a grout brush. 

You might try CLR Bath and Kitchen Cleaner, Seventh Generation Professional Tub and Tile Cleaner, Grout-EEZ Super Heavy Duty Tile and Grout Cleaner, or Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser Liquid. Once you’ve done the “heavy lifting” of cleaning your grout, spray with vinegar and wipe down about once a week to keep it clean.