Cleaning Unsealed Dirty Grout – Easy Steps to Follow

few steps to clean unsealed dirty grout

Tiles are a popular choice for flooring because they are easy to clean, come in a wide variety of colors and materials, and are durable with minimal maintenance.

However, while the tile itself is pretty desirable, the grout between the tiles can become unsightly due to the buildup of dirt, grime, mold, and mildew.

The good news is that you can restore the original brightness of the grout if you have the right cleaning products and use the right techniques.

Plus, there are many inexpensive cleaners that will work quite well on most grout.

Why Grout Becomes Dingy and Dirty?

Grout is normally unsealed and fills the spaces between the tiles.

The reason why it becomes dingy and discolored far faster compared to the tile is that unsealed grout is porous.

This means it allows dirt and other contaminants to penetrate the surface. The result is that the grout becomes discolored and darker over time.

While tile can maintain its color for quite some time, grout will need more attention and maintenance to keep its like-new appearance.

If you have unsealed grout as part of your tile floor, you will need to obtain the proper cleaning agents.

how to clean the dirty grout?

What Do You Need to Clean the Grout?

To clean the unsealed tile grout, you may find more than one of these cleaning products in your home.

All of them are pretty cheap and easily obtainable.

  1. Ammonia
  2. Baking Soda
  3. Bleach
  4. Vinegar

All four of these cleaning products can be found in the home.

Plus, they are quite inexpensive, and some, like baking soda and vinegar, have other uses. Ammonia and bleach are much more robust, so you must work in a well-ventilated area.

In addition, you will need a bucket, brush or sponge, a wet vacuum or dry towels, and water to complete the inventory of cleaning items.

As part of this process, it helps to know what is causing the grout to be discolored—the reasons why will help you choose the right cleaning product.

How to Clean the Dirty Grout?

Now that you have the right cleaning products and items, the next step is to prepare the surface.

You can do this by sweeping away the loose dirt or using a vacuum.

Once the floor is clean, you can mop the surface with warm water and mild dish soap. This will help loosen the dirt that is in the grout.

Mix & apply the cleaning solution

Mix ¼ cup of ammonia, 1/3 cup vinegar, and ½ cup baking soda into 7 cups of water.

Stir the solution until it is ready for use, then pour it into a spray bottle.

Start with a small area of grout that is dirty and spray the solution

Let it sit for about five minutes, then wipe the solution away with a sponge or clean cloth.

If that does not work, spray the solution again and then work it into the grout using a brush. This should allow you to scrub out the stains that are present.

You will most likely need to apply the cleaning solution to the unsealed dirty grout, let it sit for at least five minutes, and then scrub with the brush to lift the dirt, mold, or mildew.

A wet vacuum will extract all remaining dirt and residue that the cleaning solution has removed.

What if the Cleaning Solution Does Not Work?

If the mixture of ammonia, vinegar, and baking soda does not work, you can always apply bleach.

It is recommended that you mix the bleach with water, although if the stains are adamant, you can try straight bleach instead.

Ensure the windows are open to allow fresh air into the room.

Prep the surface as you would with the standard cleaning solution, but instead apply the bleach. Be sure to wear gloves along with eye protection.

Let the bleach soak in, then scrub with a brush. Once completed, rinse and lift the solution out using a wet vac.

Steam Extraction:

If bleach does not work, the most effective method is steam extraction which is usually performed by a commercial-quality steam extraction machine.

The steam and detergent mixture will loosen up the grime and allow it to be extracted.

This will require the renting of a floor steamer, although you can purchase one if you feel the cost is worth it.

A Few Additional Tips for Regular Maintenance of the Grout Color

It is better to get at the unsealed dirty grout when the discoloration begins than to wait until it has become quite dark.

The sooner you apply the cleaning solution, the easier it will be to lift the dirt and brighten the color.

You can start by regularly sweeping the floors to remove any loose dirt. Then scheduling regular cleaning sessions will help keep the grout in like-new condition.

A floor steamer is arguably the easiest way to lift the grout, but it is also the most expensive.

If you have issues with dirty floors, it may be worth purchasing a floor steamer and using it regularly.

Otherwise, if the grout maintains its like-new color for quite some time, you can clean them occasionally when needed.  

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