Here’s the thing about cleaning tile and grout: The more aggressively you clean them, the less impervious they become (making them more easily stained); hence, the more often they’ll need to be cleaned. It’s a vicious cycle of tile turmoil. Ugh!
The best medicine for icky tile and grout is prevention. Walls should be sprayed down after each shower with an eco-friendly soap scum/mildew cleaner and preventer like Seventh Generation Shower Cleaner. I also recommend using a squeegee to remove the water because dry walls mean less opportunity for mildew to grow and soap scum to accumulate.
However, if the damage is already done, the following project will blast those tile troublemakers to Timbuktu.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
I like to correct a problem from a leastto most-aggressive approach. Below, I list cleaning mixtures in that order— least aggressive to most aggressive. Examine your tiles and decide which concoction is best for your tile’s cleaning needs.
White vinegar, baking soda, salt, commercial tile cleaner, or bleach
Mixing pail and stir stick
Nylon scrub brush
Nylon scrubber with handle
Sponge, rag, or brush
This project pertains to ceramic and porcelain-glazed tiles. Natural stone tiles require special care because of their porous nature. Use cleaners especially formulated for natural stone, or a solution of water and a few drops of a mild, pH-balanced dishwashing liquid. Also, use a tile-and-grout sealer designed for natural stone.
Some cleaners work best if they’re left to sit on the tile surface to saturate the stains. This “sit” time will affect how long it will take to clean and restore tile and grout.
- Clear away everything from the tub.
- Protect fixture surfaces with painter’s tape if recommended by the faucet manufacturer.
- Once you’ve determined how aggressive you need to get, mix one of the following concoctions:
- Vinegar solution. In a spray bottle, mix one part water with one part vinegar.
- Salt/vinegar/baking soda paste. In a small bucket, mix one part salt, one part baking soda, and one part vinegar.
- Bleach paste. In a pail, mix one part bleach with three parts baking soda.
1. Spray or rub your mixture on the entire tile surface. Don’t forget to get in all the corners. Allow the product to sit for several minutes. If using the bleach paste, for really tough stains let the product sit for 30 minutes.
2 Scrub the surface with the nylon scrubber.
3 Scrub the grout lines with the nylon brush.
4 Rinse the tiles with fresh water and squeegee them dry.
5. Allow the walls to dry completely, and then apply the grout sealer. Most are painted or rubbed on, but some are sprayed on. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.