Clean Like You Mean It

The Best Way to Clean Grout Is Also the Easiest

We tried four different methods to spare your back and arms.

March 17, 2022
Photo by ty mecham

Clean Like You Mean It shows you how to tackle the trickiest spots in your home—whether they’re just plain gross or need some elbow grease. You’ll get the cleaning secrets we’ve learned from grandma, a guide to our handiest tools and helpers, and so much more. Pull on those rubber gloves and queue up the tunes: It’s scour hour!

When I moved into my current apartment, I was actually quite pleased with how well maintained it was. I’ve lived in apartments with landlords who obviously showed little care for their properties: windows painted shut, cabinet doors falling off the hinges, scuffed and stained wood floors. You know the type, but luckily, this was not one of those apartments. The only part of the home I really needed to give some TLC was the grout on the kitchen floor.

I had big dreams of peel-and-stick tiling over the cheap printed tiles, but after four months of living here, I’m still not sure it’s worth it. The kitchen floor functions just fine, and it isn’t so ugly (nothing compared to my old rental bathroom). Plus it can really take a lot of time and energy to put down temporary tile—not to mention remove it. One thing I can do to spruce it up, though? Get the grout as clean as the day the tiles were laid, of course.

I’ve never cleaned grout with a dedicated cleaner (I’ve always just mopped the floors with multipurpose floor cleaner), so I wanted to test out a couple different brands and methods to see what worked best. What I found is that with a little bit of elbow grease, most of the methods below work pretty similarly, and even if you think your grout looks clean, you might be shocked to see just how much dirty water comes away while scrubbing. It’s also important to note that none of these are grout bleach, so they’re all safe on colored grout.

So, after a bit of scrubbing, trial, and error, here are my super-sexy grout cleaning findings:

1. Best Overall: Black Diamond, $14.98

Photo by Amazon

I think the best part about a dedicated grout cleaner is that they require a lot less scrubbing than I anticipated. The product is meant to be applied all over the grout, sit for a specific number of minutes, then be scrubbed with a stiff-bristled brush and wiped clean with warm water. Given how laborious it is to really scrub a floor (um, hello, my knees and my back simply can’t take it), it’s a huge relief that these products generally lifted the dirt without much effort.

I followed the package instructions and sprayed it on the grout, let it sit for 3 minutes, agitated the long-standing dirt with a brush, and then wiped this away with a wet towel. If you’re planning to clean all the grout on your floor at once (I actually worked in sections throughout the day when I had time), it’s a great idea to take a mop or Swiffer to the floor when you're totally finished, as there's likely going to be some residual dirty water left over.

2. Second Place: Grout-Eez, $19.95

Photo by Amazon

For all intents and purposes, Grout-Eez performed just as well as Black Diamond. I followed the package instructions (which differed just slightly from Black Diamond) and applied the product on grout lines, let it sit for 10 minutes, agitated the solution with a brush, and then wiped it clean with warm water. Grout-Eez reminds you that grout darkens when wet, and it will take 24 hours to fully dry and see the results. I ended up putting this in second place, though, because it had more of an odor than Black Diamond.

3. In a Pinch: Hydrogen Peroxide, Baking Soda & Dish Soap, approximately $5

Photo by Amazon

Like any other kind of cleaner, I had a feeling there was an at-home solution to be whipped up, and I was correct. According to my googling, a mix of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap (in approximately a 10:5:1 ratio) works similarly to commercial grout cleaners, with the added benefit of knowing exactly what’s in it. I mixed the three ingredients together into a loose solution (we’re not going for a paste here), poured it over the grout lines, and gave it a good scrub, and it worked almost as well as the above cleaners. It did leave a white cast on the grout when dried, so I would recommend really focusing on wiping it clean. If you’re cautious about the cleaning products you use (or you aren’t looking to spend $20 on a grout cleaner), this is a great option.

4. Could Be Better: Bar Keeper’s Friend Soft Cleanser, $9.45

Photo by Amazon

I had high hopes for the Bar Keeper’s Friend Soft Cleanser, as I’m a longtime user of the powder cleanser for sinks, cookware, wall scuffs, and more. I also like that it doesn’t have much of an odor (though there is some smell), especially compared to a product like Grout-Eez. Unfortunately, though, it didn’t perform nearly as well as the other contenders (I had to do a lot more scrubbing), and it left a white cast on my originally tan grout. It certainly lifted some dirt from the grout, and it looked better than it did when it started, but it doesn’t really compare to the effectiveness of the others.

If, by chance, you have the soft cleanser on hand and want to try scrubbing your grout, give it a shot! It’s certainly better than not cleaning the grout. The good news? This cleanser can still be used for stainless steel cookware, sinks, and tiles to remove soap scum, tarnishing, and rust.

Did we miss any super effective grout-cleaning methods? Tell us below!

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

Photo by Ty Mecham. Design by Angelyn Cabrales

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • mark vontilius
    mark vontilius
  • cookiekopite
  • Karen Cure
    Karen Cure
  • Gammy
When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.


mark V. March 24, 2022
If your grout appears to be beyond help and is very dirty, Clorox gel toilet bowl cleaner never fails. It will be important to wear gloves and maybe even a mask for this. The nozzle on the product works like it was meant to be spread on grout in a very thin line. Once down it helps as well to wait a few minutes. Scrub with a stiff grout brush the wash the floor. Grout will look new.
cookiekopite March 18, 2022
I'm a professional tiler with over25 yrs experience,if you clean your main water areas (shower cubicle,sink,bath) on a regular basis using a mild detergent & water applied with a soft bristled brush or a emulsifying pad (white which are great on shower cubicle doors) as it's softer Don't use a green washing up pad as the dye will discolour your grout this will keep your grout in pristine condition you don't need to spen exorbitant amounts on products even if you have a really bad case of mildew in your grout and silicone a couple of weeks of spraying both at night with a mold and mildew will cure the problem once you've removed the surface contamination be careful with chrome plate as it tarnishes when in contact with the mold and mildew spray,I always rinse the chrome after a couple of minutes.
Karen C. March 20, 2022
What if the tile is marble? I’ve had the grout down for six months (four months of which I was away from home—long story) and the grout looks very yellow compared to the grout in the walls. Can I use the products you’ve described?
Gammy March 20, 2022
cookiekopite, can you name brands of those emulsifying pads? I don't recognize the description. I tried Amazon, but it brought up all sorts of waxes, immersion blenders and body creams.