100 Days to a Happy Housewife 14: Grout Fail


Thumbnail image for HappyHousewife.jpgCleaning begets cleaning, y'all. Now that my bathroom is nice and clean, I'm more bothered than every by the stained shower grout I mentioned. So, since I wanted a small-scale project for today (given that I have approximately a million other things I need to accomplish), I decided to devote today's research and post to that small topic. How does one whiten up one's stained grout?

I was surprised when none of my older volumes provided any advice on this subject. Since grout is, as far as I know, an ancient invention, it seems like they'd be interested. Perhaps the assumption in those days was that one would clean often enough not to allow the build-up of nasty grout mold in the first place?

The new books were little better. Only one of my pile took on this topic. Better Homes and Gardens' Making a Home had the following to say on the subject (pg. 82):

To clean stained grout, use a strong bleach solution (3/4 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water) and scrub with a small brush or toothbrush. Do not scrub too hard, otherwise you may damage the grout. Wear safety goggles to prevent bleach from spattering in your eyes. Keep the work area ventilated. Or try a foaming grout cleaner that may need to soak for several minutes to be effective.

Feeling like I could use at least one more source, I did a quick web search. The Dollar Stretcher had a couple of ideas, including letting bleach soaked paper towels sit on the grout for an hour before scrubbing, using baking soda and vinegar, using OxyClean, and trying glass top stove cleaner. Other sites echoed these recommendations.

After giving it some thought, I decided to try OxyClean. In part, this was a decision based on what was available--I don't have regular bleach (I have this bizarre fear of it) or glass stove cleanser, and I don't really trust baking soda and vinegar to work without way more elbow grease than I want to put into this job. Not actual OxyClean, though, because I don't have that either--Trader Joe's version, which is called Oxo Bright. Armed with my Oxo Bright and my new apron, the Urban Chic Apron from Austin local apron goddess Sugar Pie Chic, I headed for the shower.

Like a good mid-century housewife, the first thing I did was open the bathroom window. Then I once again removed all my bottles and tubs from the shower and assessed the situation. It wasn't pretty.

I wet down the shower with the removable shower head, then dumped on some Oxo Bright. I expected it to kind of bond with the water and make a paste, but it didn't. The granules were oddly large, and stayed intact. Undettered, I rubbed it over all of the stained spots, then grabbed my trusty scrub brush and started in on the less-stained places, figuring I'd give it a while to sit on the bad spots.

Twenty minutes of hard scrubbing later, I rinsed the shower then my now covered-in-Oxo-Bright self. And it looked exactly the same as it had when I'd started. Maybe a bit worse, actually, since the grout was still just as stained, but the tiles were a bit whiter. If nothing else, I thought the harsh texture of the product and my scrubbing motion would get at least a bit of the nastiness up, but there was really just no improvement at all.

So this one's a fail. I considered trying the vinegar and baking soda idea next, but was honestly just so irritated by the wasted time and ick factor of this experiment that I decided to skip it. Might just be best to buy some damn Tilex.

Meanwhile, this is how I feel about Oxo Bright:


Clorox Bleach Pen. No splashing...you just kind of draw it on the grout, let it sit and it should get clean.

Sorry that your Oxyclean experiment failed. You may have to brave bleach. Don't try the vinegar though - vinegar eats grout. (Ask me how I know. *blush*)

Tilex works pretty great if you don't want to handle straight bleach, buy some soft scrub gel with bleach and you can kinda draw it on over the grout and let it sit.

Hmm We moved recently and all my kitchen counters are tile. I went to home depo and went to the cleaning section for heavy duty grout cleaner. So much so that I bought sealant to go back over it after I am done. i haven't used them yet but if this doesn't work nothing will.
Normally i try to be super eco friendly(green/homemade) but this has got to go and its almost a hundred years of yuck.

Don't give up on the vinegar and baking soda. I now use them exclusively for all my cleaning, and they work fantastically--actually, way better than commercial cleaning products, and they're way better environmentally. I always scrub the tub with a baking powder and water paste, and I use diluted vinegar (50% water, 50% vinegar) for cleaning the walls and between the tiles. It cuts right through all the greasy yucky stuff. Plus, it's super cheap!

Oxy does work wonders on grout, but it sounds like you didn't get it wet enough. I add just enough water to make a paste out of it, spread the paste into grout lines, and then leave it til it is dry. Once dry you can knock it off, sweep it away, and observe the nearly effortless pretty white grout lines left behind.

If you do get them clean, definitely seal them. You can get spray on sealer in a can, it's very easy to apply.

Once you clean the grout, seal it with a product called Grout Finish(sorry for the long URL):


I used it and it eliminated staining. The grout looked brand new and I never had ugly grout again!

This product on this website


looks similar to Grout Finish. There is a video on this site that shows how it is applied.

Hope this helps!

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