Dirty grout is a common problem. But with so many cleaning tips floating around on the internet, it's hard to know what to believe. So I decided to take the guess work out of it by testing a few methods and reporting back to you. Read on to see what I discovered...
I tried three different techniques - fresh lemon juice, Oxiclean and sulfamic acid cleaner (which can be purchased at your local home improvement store). I began by opening a window to make sure there was plenty of ventilation, and putting on a pair of rubber gloves to protect my skin. If you're planning to use one of these methods, please test it out in an inconspicuous area to make sure that there isn't an adverse reaction with your flooring material. Also, keep in mind that my grout is gray - so it will never look white. Here's what happened:
1. Fresh Lemon Juice
I rubbed a slice of lemon along the grout and then scrubbed at it with a green Scotch-Brite pad. It started looking cleaner right away. Then I rinsed it away using a wet paper towel. The only annoying part with this method is cleaning up the pulp. Once it dried, it looked significantly better.
I mixed a small batch of Oxiclean in a plastic cup, using a 1-to-1 ratio to create a watery paste. I used an old spoon to scoop the mixture onto the grout. Make sure to stir it often, or the Oxiclean will separate from the water and harden on the bottom. I let it sit on the grout for 5-10 minutes and then scrubbed at it with a Scotch-Brite pad. This method worked very well, but the Oxiclean does leave a white residue on your floor so make sure to rinse it with water right way and mop everything thoroughly afterward. Get enough to clean all your tile for $12.48 on Amazon.
3. Sulfamic Acid Cleaner
I mixed the sulfamic acid (buy it here for $4.48) cleaner with warm water, according to the directions on the container. I spooned it out onto the grout, and it immediately began to fizz and bubble up. This is clearly strong stuff. Right away, I scrubbed at it with a Scotch-Brite pad and the grout looked darker. I panicked a little but rationalized that it must have been because it was still wet. Whatever the scientific reason was, it did eventually become lighter and cleaner-looking than the original grout. I rinsed the area thoroughly.
Here are the results of the three methods. The grout in front of the lemon slice is the area that I cleaned with lemon juice, the middle one is Oxiclean, and the one on the right is sulfamic acid cleaner.
The verdict: they all worked to some extent, but Oxiclean worked the best. Lemon juice was a very close second, and would be a great option if you're trying to stay organic.
I decided to go with the Oxiclean method for the rest of the bathroom. The only frustrating part was the white residue that appeared after everything was dry... so I went over it with the mop again and now it looks great:
Quite a difference! See the whole bathroom below. As I noted before, our grout is a gray color so it will never look bright white - but it is certainly less stained and grimy than before. I hope this was helpful, good luck cleaning your dirty grout! Feel free to share other methods that you've tried in the comments section below.