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How to Clean Tile Grout With Homemade Cleaner

In this edition of DIY Smarts, Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva offers cleaning tips on how to get rid of dirty tile grout using only household supplies.

Steps for Cleaning Grout with Homemade Cleaner

  1. Fill a cup with warm water.
  2. Add the baking soda to the cup to give the mixture grit.
  3. Add a few drops of dish soap to the cup. Mix everything together.
  4. Pour vinegar along the edges of the grout. Don’t do too much at once or the floor will be really wet and more difficult to work on.
  5. Pour the mixture on top of the vinegar along the grout lines.
  6. Scrub the grout lines with a stiff scrub brush.
  7. After scrubbing, let the mixture sit for about five minutes. Then, scrub it again with the brush.
  8. Wipe off the excess vinegar mixture with a sponge. Allow the floor to dry. It could take about 45 minutes.
  9. (OPTIONAL) If that doesn’t work, try gently scraping the top layer of the grout with a grout knife. They’re meant for removing grout, so do this carefully.
  10. Apply the grout sealer along all the grout lines.
  11. Allow the sealer to dry for 3-4 hours. Then apply a second coat.
  12. Repeat this sealing process every year, especially for light colored grout.


Tom’s homemade solution for cleaning grout included concentrated dish soap, baking soda, and white vinegar. These can be found at most grocery and department stores.

Rather than using a toothbrush, Tom recommends using a cleaning brush with stronger bristles. They sell specialty grout cleaning brushes at most home centers in the tile aisle. The one Tom used in the video is manufactured by QEP.

If the stains are really deep in the grout, Tom recommends using a grout removal tool and lightly scraping it against the grout to remove the layer of grout that’s been stained. Do this cautiously. The grout removal tool Tom used in the video is also manufactured by QEP.

Once the grout is clean, Tom suggests that sealing the grout once per year will prevent it from staining again. Tom used a TileLab Grout Sealer, which is manufactured by Custom Building Products and can be found at The Home Depot.

Shop Flooring Tools & Materials at The Home Depot

Shopping List:

Dish soap
Baking soda
White vinegar
Grout sealer