Last week I got a call from a disappointed Landpark resident homeowner who had hired someone to seal their grout. The caller’s dismay with the look of her grout was evident in her voice so I drove over the next day at lunch. The grout had been sealed without cleaning it first so now the stained grout was sealed in permanently. And, because an unlicensed person was hired to do the work it would be difficult to pursue them for damages.

As a licensed tile contractor, in addition to fixing other installers’ botched tile and grout jobs, many homeowners have called me to refresh or replace old grout. I gladly do this and when the job is done, I give them a lesson on how to maintain and seal the grout to prolong its life, so they don’t need to call me back prematurely. I have found that in most cases, maintenance information was not given to the homeowner after a new tile or stone installation. I’d like to share with you some tips on cleaning grout, keeping your grout looking new and extending its life.

The most common product recommended by leading tile authorities to maintain the grout is a neutral soap, such as Tile and Stone Cleaner by Miracle. To clean extremely dirty or stained grout, the method used depends on the answers to a few questions. Was the grout white when installed or was it some other color? Where is the grout located? Is the tile ceramic, stone or glass?

Often, it is challenging to determine the original color of the grout. For a floor, move a rug or look at a less trafficked area, such as under the cabinet edge. On kitchen counters, the best example of the true color of the grout is the vertical kitchen backsplash away from the stove top. If the grout started out white, you can use more products to get it clean without worrying about taking the colored pigment out of the grout.

The next factor to consider is where the grout is located? If it is in a shower stall or tub surround, there may a build-up of soap on the walls. If the grout is dirty on the kitchen counter, there may be a build-up of grease on the counters. You must cut through this grease/waxy build-up first before other cleaners can work. The best way to cut through soap, waxy build-up or grease is to use a product that is an alkali cleaner. I use Kleenzall by Stone Tech in diluted form. Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle, and rinse off the Kleenzall with warm water. Next, determine if the tiles are ceramic, glass or stone. Stone is handled differently and will be dealt with in a future article.

For dirty or stained white grout surrounding ceramic or glass tile, the first step is to clean with bleach. Use bleach infrequently, as over time, it degrades the grout. To clean colored grout surrounding ceramic tile, try mixing a 50% solution of white vinegar and hot water. Use a stiff bristle nylon brush to agitate the solution on top of the grout joints. Rinse well with lots of water. If that still doesn’t clean the grout, you can use up to 100% pure white vinegar and a bristle brush, but rinse well. Vinegar is a natural acid, and it will take a microscopic layer off the top of the grout. If not rinsed well, it can weaken the remaining grout.

If you’ve tried all these steps, and it still won’t come clean, you may need to call in a tile professional.

I recommend contacting only those professionals with many years of specializing in tile maintenance and repair. If a full removal and re-grout is necessary, it may be a good opportunity to have cracked or chipped tile replaced as well. A professional installer may be able to find a good match for your old tile.

Refreshed or new grout can brighten any floor, kitchen, or bath. It is well worth your time and money if done right.

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Kim Stoddard - owner

(916) 454-2896
Sacramento, CA 95820
Contact me

30 years experience in
tile installation

Licensed and Bonded
References available

License #536338

Past Member: Ceramic Tile
      and Stone Institute

Ceramic Tile in Sacramento

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