How do I clean grout?

Grout is one of the toughest cleaning challenges we are asked about. Dirty, dingy, gray grout lines are unpleasant to look at and difficult to clean in an efficient way. Are you excited by the thought of using a toothbrush for grout cleaning? Probably not. There are certain grout specific cleaning problems because of the nature of grout itself. It is a porous mixture of water, cement and sand.

Traditional cleaning methods often encourage applying a solution to the grout to restore its original colour. This is not always going to work because of the chemical composition of cleaning solutions. They are often tinted, which can promote further discolouration. Or, we tend to apply such strong chemicals out of frustration, that we erode some of the grout away with the application of chemicals, which degrades the tile and can lead to bigger problems.

The other problem is that vertical surfaces pose a challenge. In order to apply enough chemical to treat the grout, you will create pools on the floor which make it difficult to reach the area to be cleaned, or you end up with chemicals running down your arms from contact with the wall.

The floor is really no better – if you need to apply agitation to the grout to clean it, chances are you will be bent over in an uncomfortable position for what seems like miles of grout lines.

So what should you do? Regular mopping might help, right? Wrong. The low level of the grout (below the tile surface) makes it a perfect place for the dirty water brushed off of the tile surface to collect, and the porous grout just sucks that dirt right up.

What about sealing the grout? If you haven’t already, it won’t work – it needs to be clean and look good before you spend all that money sealing it.

The best way we have found for grout cleaning is steam. The high heat, low moisture and gentle pressure from the steam actually force the dirt out of the grout and bring it to the surface where it is easily wiped away. Quality steam systems (like your SteamKing 1500) come with extension tubes, which allow you to scrub floor grout from a standing position and clean wall – and even ceiling – grout easily. And since the steam is a great way to clean floors and tile surfaces, you can clean your floors and walls at the same time. This eliminates the problems mentioned earlier: chemical discolouration, erosion, low level grout dirt collection, uncomfortable reaching and bending and of course the harmful contents of most cleaning products.

There is some grout that steam can’t clean. If you have tried multiple chemical applications in the past you may have ‘set’ the dirt, making it impossible to remove. If dirty grout has been sealed, steam will not go beneath the seal to clean. If the grout seems to be unstable – a result of either age or intense chemical erosion – it is not advisable to apply steam.

There are lots of grout cleaning applications that steam can do deeper, faster, easier and better. An example is grout around the base of the toilet and in showers, where moisture can cause stains. Another is grout around pet beds or litter boxes. Entrance ways and side doors also tend to need extra grout cleaning. The grout around kitchen equipment, where the mop has pushed a collection of dirty, greasy water over the years is another awesome spot to clean with your SteamKing 1500. If this is your biggest challenge, then versatile steam may be the answer.

Because once you’re done with the grout you can move on to the tiles, windows, mirrors, sinks, toilets, fridge seals, oven… you get the idea!

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