Although I do like the look, feel, and durability of the porcelain tile in our kitchen, bathrooms, and sunroom (I never had it before living in Florida), if I had my druthers, I would say goodbye to grout in my life. Especially the grout on the floor, which we're constantly bathing in some manner of liquid dirt — from tomato sauce splatters to murky mop water.
Living with so much grout in my home, I've tried many ways to clean it, never really settling on one that worked. Until now.
(If you didn't already know, grout cleaning is an excellent way to procrastinate if you have an exam to study for or a few closets' worth of clothes to sort through.)
The Cleaner: OxiClean
The Verdict: Not worth the payoff
The first time I decided to clean the entire kitchen's grout, I used a paste of OxiClean and a really stiff grout brush. I had to scrub hard, leave the paste sitting, rinse, rinse again, let the floor dry, and then wet mop to pick up the residue that still clung to the tile. My grout was pretty clean, but nothing that dazzled the eyes, and definitely not worth the actual hours it took to get it that way.
The Cleaner: Magic Erasers
The Verdict: Wasteful and expensive
Using Magic Erasers worked for me for a while. I was motivated by the instant gratification from my clean-looking grout, and it required far less rigorous scrubbing than the OxiClean paste. Magic Erasers work by abrading that top layer of dirt on the grout, and while I don't have a problem with that, my grout ate through Magic Erasers at an alarming rate considering they cost about a dollar a piece. (And the cheaper ones disintegrated even faster, so that didn't save any money.)
The Cleaner: Lysol Toilet Cleaner
The Verdict: Too harsh
Next, I tried Lysol toilet bowl cleaner. The dispenser tip on the bottle seemed practically made for grout cleaning, the process was fast, my grout was as white as I'd ever gotten it, and I thought I'd finally found it. Until I read that using long-term use of caustic cleaners could damage not only the grout, but potentially the tile too. That scared me out of relying on my newfound secret weapon.
The Cleaner: Bar Keepers Friend
The Verdict: MAGIC
Recently, I wrote a piece on fan-favorite ways to use Bar Keepers Friend and I came across a few mentions of using it to clean grout. Of course I had to try it for myself. I wet the grout a bit, sprinkled on some Bar Keepers Friend, worked it in with a scrubby pad, and wiped it off. The grout was clean!
Even better, this new technique worked better and faster than any other method I've tried. I don't have to wait for it to soak in to the grout lines, and it doesn't require vigorous or prolonged scrubbing to work. Rinsing and wiping it away a line at a time means that I don't have to drag out the mop for a big mopping session afterwards.
How to Clean Grout with Bar Keepers Friend
Want to try this at home? Here are step-by-step instructions.
- Gather supplies. You'll need two small buckets filled with water (one will only contain clean water for rinsing), two sponges or rags, a scrubbing cloth or small cleaning brush, Bar Keepers Friend, and cleaning gloves.
- Put on your gloves. Bar Keepers Friend and bare skin don't mix. Protect your hands.
- Wet a portion of the grout. Use the sponge or rag to squeeze a small amount of water on a line of grout. Bar Keepers Friend should never be used dry because it's hazardous to inhale.
- Sprinkle with Bar Keepers Friend. A small amount will do.
- Scrub. Scrub the grout line with your cleaning brush or scrubber.
- Rinse away. Squeeze some more water from your "clean" bucket and sponge onto the scrubbed grout and wipe away.
- Repeat. Do this until the area is sparkling clean.
Grout cleaning with Bar Keepers Friend is an on-label use, so I'm not worried about it damaging my floors. A big can of BKF (we're friends now) only costs a few dollars, and I love being able to tackle my grout with a product that has so many other uses as well.
Finally, I have a way to clean grout cheaply, easily, safely, and effectively. I'm sold for life.
This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: I Tried 4 Grout Cleaners, and This Is the Only One I'll Buy
Have you ever used Bar Keepers Friend to clean your tile and grout?