How to Clean Shower Grout

Let’s face it — tiled showers look amazing.

They can also be a huge pain in the you-know-what to clean, thanks to grout. While tiles are smooth and non-porous, grout is the opposite.

It sucks up water and dirt like some hungry monster. It discolors super easily.

The good news is, you can keep it looking pretty good. Here’s how to clean shower grout.

But First … What is Grout?

If you’ve got tiles, you’ve got grout. Grout plays a vital role in keeping the tiles in your shower looking good year after year.

It keeps moisture from seeping behind or between the tiles so that they stay in place and don’t shrink or expand based on the humidity levels in your bathroom.

Grout also helps to give your tile a “finished” look. When it’s spaced evenly between the tiles, things look nice and neat.

But grout’s far from perfect. It needs care and attention from you to continue to do its job efficiently. Since it’s made from cement, it’s porous and can stain easily.

Grout should be sealed to keep out moisture and to help prolong its life. But even with a coating of sealant, it’s still possible for the grout to get dingy and worn with time.

Best Way to Clean Grout in Shower

Let’s keep things simple to start and assume that your grout isn’t super dirty but could use a bit of attention. Here’s how to clean shower grout on a daily or weekly basis.

What you’ll need:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Stiff bristled, small brush
  • Baking soda

 

You can find special brushes made just for cleaning grout at a hardware store. Another option is to pick up an extra toothbrush (go for a medium bristle brush, not soft) the next time you’re out or use an old toothbrush.

For this project, we’re going to start using most gentle cleaning method possible then work our way up if needed. As Bob Vila notes, it’s best to begin using the mildest cleaners and only break out the super strong cleaners if absolutely necessary. ¬†

What to do:

 

  • Fill the spray bottle with water. Spritz the plain water on the grout.
  • Use the brush to scrub the grout. Circular motions work best.
  • Let the grout dry. If it looks clean and back to its original color once dry, you’re done.

 

Does your grout need a bit more care and cleaning?

Here’s what to do next.

    1. Fill the spray bottle with half vinegar, half water. Spritz all over the grout.

 

  • Let the vinegar mixture soak into the grout for a few minutes.

 

    1. Scrub the grout with the little brush.

 

  • Rinse the vinegar solution away with water. Let the grout dry.

 

 

Ideally, that should work and help get the grout clean. If you need just a little bit more “oomph” to get the grout clean, here’s what you can do:

 

  • Mix equal parts baking soda and water together in a small dish. It should form a thick paste.
  • Carefully spread the baking soda/water paste over the lines of grout between the shower tiles.

 

  1. Spritz the baking soda paste (that’s on the grout) with your vinegar/water solution. It will bubble and foam and produce a pretty dramatic reaction.
  2. Scrub the grout with your brush after the mixture has calmed down and isn’t actively foaming anymore. The reaction between the vinegar and baking soda should break up the stains and dirt, making them easier to remove.

How to Clean Shower Grout Mildew

Basic dirt and debris are one thing, but how to clean shower grout that’s covered in mildew? Mildew is a type of fungus that usually looks gray or white.

If you’ve got mildewed grout, you’re going to want to use a slightly stronger cleaner to remove it.

Here’s how to clean shower grout and mildew with hydrogen peroxide.

What you’ll need:

  • Hydrogen peroxide (3%, the stuff you buy in the drugstore)
  • Spray bottle
  • Small scrub brush/toothbrush
  • Baking soda

 

What to do:

    1. Pour the hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle.

 

  • Spray the hydrogen peroxide onto the grout. Let it sit for about 5 minutes.
  • Scrub the grout with your brush.
  • Repeat as needed. If the mildew is particularly stubborn, you might need to kick things up a notch.

 

  1. Mix the baking soda with the hydrogen peroxide in a small bowl. Use equal parts peroxide and baking soda to make a paste.
  2. Spread the paste over the grout. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Scrub the paste into the grout.
  4. Rinse the paste away.  

The Million Dollar Question: Can You Use Bleach to Clean Shower Grout?

You’ve tried vinegar, you’ve tried hydrogen peroxide, but your grout still looks grimy. Can’t you use something with a lot more cleaning power?

Maybe something like chlorine bleach?

We won’t lie to you — chlorine bleach can be a pretty amazing cleaner. It kills mold. It kills mildew, it cuts through some stains like they were butter.

The short answer is, you can use bleach to clean shower grout.

The long answer is, you can use it, but you need to be super careful, and it might not be worth it in the end.

We’ll spare you the science lesson, but suffice it to say that bleach is a caustic ingredient. It’s going to destroy stains and mildew, sure.

But in the long run, it’s also going to destroy the grout.

So, we’ll tell you how to use bleach to clean shower grout, but we want you to promise us that you’ll only do it as a last resort.

If nothing else works, here’s how to clean shower grout with bleach.

What you’ll need:

  • Chlorine bleach
  • Small glass bowl or measuring cup
  • Small scrub brush
  • Rubber/plastic gloves

 

What to do:

  1. Crack open a window or turn on the fan in your bathroom. Bleach produces strong fumes, so you want some ventilation.
  2. Pour a small amount of bleach into the bowl or measuring cup. You’ll be working with full strength bleach.
  3. Put on the plastic or rubber gloves if you haven’t already. Bleach is strong stuff. It can burn your skin. Wearing a pair of safety goggles and a long-sleeved shirt and long pants is a good idea as well.
  4. Dip the brush in the bleach. Use the brush to scrub the grout in circular motions.
  5. Rinse the grout with water when you’re done cleaning it.

How to Properly Clean Shower Tiles

Along with knowing how to clean shower grout, it’s a good idea to know how to clean your shower tiles. After all, if your grout looks amazing but your shower tiles are worn and dingy, things are going to look weird.

Soap scum and hard water stains are two things that can ruin the look of your shower tiles. The good news is that there’s an easy way to remove both types of stains: Using vinegar.

Since vinegar often works best for cleaning grout, it’s the ideal thing to use when figuring out how to clean shower tiles and grout. Here’s what to do.

 

  • Spray the straight up vinegar or a 1 part vinegar, 1 part water mix on the shower tile.
  • Let the solution sit for a few minutes or even a few hours, depending on how dirty the tiles are.

 

  1. Use a soft scrubby sponge or a rag to wipe away the vinegar. Rinse the shower to remove any lingering vinegar.

 

Another way to keep shower tiles looking shiny and clean is to wipe them down with a magic eraser type sponge every week or so.

How to Clean Shower Tile Grout on a Regular Basis

Cleaning shower tiles and grout is an ongoing project. In fact, you want to keep up with it so that you aren’t stuck with a lot of gross mildew, mold, and other types of buildup.

We recommend getting in the habit of spraying the vinegar mixture on your grout and shower tile at least once a week, then giving everything a good scrub down. Sure, it’ll be a pain at first, but you’ll get used to it.

Keeping a spray bottle full of vinegar in or near the shower will help you remember to the maintain the grout and tile.

It’s also worth noting that knowing how to clean shower grout means knowing how to maintain it. You might need to reseal the grout every year or so, especially if you’ve used bleach to clean it.

Final Thoughts on How to Clean Shower Grout

Vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide are all relatively inexpensive, common household ingredients. They are also often the best things to use to clean shower grout.

Now that you know how to clean shower grout, it’s essential to get in the habit of doing so regularly. Keeping your shower clean and sparkling will not only mean it looks good, but it will also mean it helps you get clean yourself.