Making the switch to homemade grout cleaner and natural tile cleaner is incredibly easy and very inexpensive. You likely already have all the things you need. And they’re more effective (in my opinion) than many store-bought alternatives. You also don’t have to worry about your kids bathing in a chemical cocktail after you clean the tub, or a toddler crawling around on a floor covered in carcinogens.
I’m a big fan of homemade cleaning recipes and these were born out of necessity for me. When I moved into my first home that I owned it needed a lot of work. Most of the remodeling became a DIY job. One thing I left was the vintage tile in the hall bathroom. Thankfully, it was a light blue color and not a horrible yellow or bright pink like many other 1970s bathrooms.
Unfortunately, this bathroom came with complimentary mold in the grout and tile and I had to figure out how to get rid of it. These natural tile and grout cleaner recipes were created in response to the mold decorations in the bathroom. Thankfully they cleaned the ceramic tile and dirty grout right up.
The Problem With Tile Cleaning Products
Store-bought grout cleaners can take your breath away (quite literally). The harsh cleaners may clean up tile floors and grout lines but not before they burn your lungs. Then there’s the residue afterward with the remaining harsh chemicals. Some of them promise a deep clean with no scrubbing, but I’m not afraid of a little natural cleaning elbow grease.
A common “DIY” hack is to use toilet bowl cleaner for grout cleaner. While the gel cleaners stick to grout and can clean it, they can cause damage over time. Plus again we’re back to harsh chemicals.
Another popular option is chlorine bleach. I read that bleach doesn’t actually kill mold but just bleaches it so you can’t see it so I didn’t want to go that direction. Plus, with little ones in the house, bleach wasn’t something I kept around anyway.
DIY Grout Cleaning Ingredients
So what’s a natural mama to do when it comes to grime and buildup on shower tiles? While lemon juice and Dawn dish soap are some popular options, I’ve found some natural cleaners that do the trick. I’ve come up with several different cleaning solutions based on the tile using the following basic ingredients. Most of them you probably already have on hand!
- Vinegar – A somewhat gentle acid that works great as a tile floor cleaner. Over time it can break down grout though, so use it sparingly on these areas.
- Baking soda – A gentle scrubbing agent that helps remove dirt and stains.
- Washing soda – You can actually make your own from baking soda! It adds an extra cleaning boost to DIY cleaners.
- Borax – A little controversial as a cleaner, but I’ve found it to be a great addition to my cleaning routine. Borax helps remove dirt and stains on tile and grout and it also softens water for a better clean.
- Castile soap – A more natural replacement for conventional dish soap in DIY grout cleaners.
- Hydrogen peroxide – The foaming action helps whiten and lift stains. Be careful with colored grout though as it may bleach it.
How to Clean Tile Grout
There are a few things to consider before tackling dirty tile and grout. Marble and stone tile are more sensitive to acids so they need some special care. Generally, a cleaning solution of filtered water and a little castile soap works best for cleaning these materials.
If you have porcelain tile it can benefit from other homemade cleaners, including baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands and use a grout cleaning brush, scrub brush, or old toothbrush. You can let the grout-cleaning mixture sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing it off with the bristles for better results. For less intense messes a sponge will work.
Protecting Your Grout
Be careful with old grout though, since scrubbing it too much or too often can cause it to chip and crumble. It’s also important to protect your grout with a grout sealer as needed. Grout is naturally porous (unless it’s epoxy grout) so over time cleaners and natural wear and tear wear it down.
Experts generally recommend resealing grout in high-traffic areas (like your main shower and bathroom) every 6-12 months. Less used areas, like tiled walls or a guest bathroom, can get away with resealing about every 2 years. It depends on the tile, your grout, and other factors which sealer you use (if any).
If your grout is damaged and chipped, it’s time to replace it. Damaged grout is a breeding ground for mold and mildew and this can also affect the area behind the tile. Keeping grout clean and sealed is the best way to protect it.
Here are some cleaning tips to do just that!
Homemade Tile and Grout Cleaner Recipes
- Light cleaning of water spots or dirt – Get a damp sponge and dip it in a bowl of regular baking soda. Wipe down the tub or tiles and rinse with warm water.
- For soap scum – Use filtered water with a little bit of castile soap (or dish soap) and white vinegar to clean the tile and grout.
- Tough stains or set in dirt- Use a damp sponge in full-strength white vinegar to wipe down the entire surface. Immediately scour with baking soda and a scrub brush or sponge.
Best Homemade Grout Cleaner For Tough Stains
- Combine all of the ingredients except the vinegar and gently stir.
- Wipe down the area you’re cleaning with straight white vinegar using a cloth or sponge.
- Scrub the grout with the baking soda mixture, then rinse.
How to Get Rid of Mold on Grout
If there’s mold actively growing on grout this can be a sign of a more serious problem. If the grout or tile is damaged and water seeped into the wall or floorboard behind it, the mold could be growing there too. Inspect the area for damage and see if the grout needs to be replaced and then sealed or if there’s other mold damage in the area that needs addressed first.
For mold stains on grout make a mixture of 1 part hydrogen peroxide (3%) and 1 part water in a spray bottle. Spray on grout until saturated. Wait 45 minutes then wipe down with a sponge and rinse well. You can also add a few drops of tea tree essential oil to the mixture.
Have you ever made homemade tile or grout cleaner? How did it work?