Tile flooring is lovely and long lasting. Home builders and remodelers often prefer tile flooring over hardwood, linoleum and other options because it is both decorative and durable.
However, if you have ceramic, marble, or stone tile floors in your home, then you probably have grout as well. Grout is the compound that holds tiles to the floor base and joins them to one another. In time, tile grout may become discolored, faded or even downright dirty.
How can you keep your floor grout spotless and stain-free?
Preventing grout stains
First, it's a good idea to make sure your tiling is sealed during installation, if at all possible. If you are building or remodeling your home and adding tile flooring, you can ask your contractor to seal the grout before completing the installation.
You can instruct all of the members of your household (and even guests) to wipe their feet carefully before walking on your lovely tile floors. Some homeowners have no-shoes rules in their homes, simply to keep the floors and carpets clean.
Next, you will want to clean up any spills immediately, before they soak into your tile flooring. By sopping up that cranberry juice, chocolate sauce or cola quickly, you will prevent many stains from setting into your tile grout.
Scrubbing grimy grout
Over time, tile grout does tend to weather a bit, and cleaning becomes necessary.
White or light-colored tile grout can be easily cleaned with an old toothbrush and a tube of extra whitening toothpaste. (Do not use the gel type of toothpaste. The old-fashioned paste kind works the best.)
The only way to do clean floor tile grout thoroughly is to kneel or crouch on the floor and scrub between the tiles. Let the whitening toothpaste foam up on the tile grout for a few minutes, then wipe it off with a soft towel. Mop your tile floor with clear water afterwards. Do not use floor cleansers or other cleaning products.
If you have darker colored tile grout, you will want to try the whitening toothpaste on a test-patch in a non-conspicuous area before using it on the entire tile floor. Determine if the tile grout is color-fast. This means the tile grout color will not fade or change with scrubbing.
Other tile grout cleaning methods
Additional methods for cleaning tile grout recommend using chlorine bleach, baking soda, vinegar, peroxide, oxygen bleach or other chemical cleaning agents. Mixing a variety of chemicals can damage your tiling, grout and nearby flooring or carpeting. Worse yet, these compounds can produce toxic results for you and your pets.
Actually, the whitening toothpaste works the best for cleaning floor tile grout. A few minutes of serious scrubbing with a toothbrush, and your floors will sparkle and smell fresh and clean.
Here's a helpful hint
I keep a cup of old toothbrushes and nearly-spent toothpaste tubes in my cleaning closet for a variety of stain-removal projects.