Heading into a weekend of gloomy days? You don’t want to go outside, and you’ve already binged everything Netflix has to offer. Have we got a job for you!
Take a look at your tile floors, and you’ll see where we’re heading. They’re kind of gross, right? Unless you suffer from ablutomania (we’ll wait while you go look it up), those spaces have seen better days.
Take advantage of this winter downtime and get a head start on your spring cleaning with these handy grout tips.
Look up “how to clean dirty grout” online, and you’ll find enough different methods to keep you busy for weeks. We tried some of them on a grungy tile floor in an entryway:
- Nail polish remover
- Barkeepers’ Friend (a cleanser)
- Soft Scrub
- Magic Eraser
- Vinegar and baking soda
- Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda
- A slurry of baking soda and water
The most effective method – by far – was the latter, allowed to sit for about five minutes and then scrubbed with a toothbrush. If you want to use less muscle-power, clean with an old electric toothbrush.
Washington Post columnist Tim Carter recommends yet another option, which we didn’t try. He’s the owner of the website askthebuilder.com, in his column at the Washington Post.
Carter uses oxygen bleach powder, which he claims is “nontoxic, doesn’t produce harsh fumes, and is color- and fabric-safe.” Here’s what you do: Soak the grout lines with a solution of the bleach and warm water and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. (Sorry, he doesn’t tell us the ratio of bleach to water.) During this time, “the oxygen ions attack the stain molecules, breaking them into pieces that rinse away with little effort,” Carter claims.
As the solution gets absorbed into the grout, add more so that the lines are always flooded with the liquid. When the time is up, scrub the grout, adding more solution as you scrub. To maintain clean grout, Carter recommends adding oxygen bleach powder to your water each time you mop the floor.
If the sealant is old or wearing off, you can lose some of the grout’s color when using abrasive cleaners; we even lost a bit with the baking soda/water slurry. And, you may end up with lingering stains, as did Sherry Petersik at Young House Love.
If that happens, it’s time to “cheat.” Or, you can skip the scrubbing all together and head straight for this solution.
Petersik used a product called Polyblend Grout Renew that she found at Home Depot. The manufacturer describes it as a “colorant” and, applied with a small paintbrush or toothbrush, its recommended use is to “restore or change grout color of cement grout joints.”
We shopped around a bit and, although it comes in a wide variety of colors at Amazon.com, it’s less expensive at Home Depot. We’ve also seen similar products in different forms. One is in a marking pen-like form and in 33 different colors. Another come in a hair color applicator-like bottle.
You’ll need to seal the grout after cleaning or coloring, and there are a number of products at Amazon.com that, judging by customer reviews, seem to do the trick.
It might sound a bit challenging for a novice DIYer, but you can find instructions on how to remove and replace grout, online. The list of equipment required to do the job was enough to have us searching online for a pro to do the job. Here’s the list of tools:
- A rotary tool with diamond blades
- A large grout sponge
- Scrub brush
- Rubber float
- Dust mask
- Shop vac
- Safety glasses
- Ear protection
- Carbide hand tool and blades
- Pre-Mixed grout
The supplies and equipment needed for a 129 square-foot grout replacement job will run from $220 to about $265, according to homewyse.com. Add in whatever you figure your time is worth — the job will take nearly 34 hours.
Then, you’ll need to wait a few days for the new grout to dry (keeping kids and pets off of it — no problem, right?) before applying the sealant. To have a pro do the work for you, plan on spending between $253 and $574, according to homeadvisor.com.
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