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Easiest Way to Clean Grout Without Scrubbing

Easiest Way to Clean Grout Without Scrubbing

OK, let’s be honest, right below flying cars and food replicators, the top thing sci-fi shows promised us that we all wish were real, is Rosie the robot maid, hardwired to do all the hard scrubbing for us.

Sadly, fiction is still fiction, even when you stick the word science in front of it, and we’re all more likely to see a working lightsaber in our lifetime than a full-service robot maid (LeoBots notwithstanding). That means, like it or not, if you’ve let something like your grout get really dirty, there will be at least some scrubbing in your future.

While it feels like breaking a child’s heart and telling them Santa’s not real, admitting there’s no such thing as scrub-free grout restoration upfront will help us do what you really need us to do. which is show you how to restore your grout with as little physical labor as possible and then reveal the tricks to keep your grout scrub-free going forward. Yes, you read that right, while restoring dirty grout without scrubbing doesn’t exist, maintenance cleaning grout without scrubbing is very real if you use the right tool and products we’re about to show you, so let’s kick this starship into hyperdrive!

Because we know restoration work can be intimidating, we’re going to start at the end and let you see what you want to be when you grow up. We’re going to show you first how to make your grout scrub-free going forward and how to properly mop it after that, so you can clean your grout without scrubbing ever again. Once you see the dream life of the future that awaits you, you’ll have the inspiration you need to slog through the restoration process.

How to Make Your Grout Cleanable without Scrubbing

The number one mistake people make when it comes to grout is presuming it was properly sealed before they got there and that the sealants are still working!

If you’re thinking to yourself, “what’s a sealant?” you’re not alone. So many consumers have no clue what they are, why they’re so critical, and how long they really last. The short answer is that sealants are a clear layer of polymers and resins that coat and absorb into grout and tiles, so dirt, water, and stains can no longer penetrate them. Without sealants, grout is extremely porous and can absorb dirt and water all the way to the studs behind the tiles, so forgetting to seal or reseal later on is an expensive mistake.

There are tons of sealants out there, each with their own special formula, surfaces they’re designed to seal, level of shine when they dry, and expected wearlife under normal usage, so there’s no hard fast rule we can discuss. We can say, though, that water-based sealants are some of the most popular and most of those will last up to five years depending on how often the surface is used and how frequently it is cleaned.

Usage makes a huge difference, because if you’re sealing a guest bathroom that rarely gets used, that sealant has less to hold up against than if you’re sealing your busy front foyer tile floor. So be sure you read up carefully before you select a sealant.

Sadly, so many naive consumers are flying blind because they’re moving into homes or apartments where they don’t know what, if anything, was used to seal the grout and when. There’s also homeowners that got bargain basement remodeling work done and didn’t realize that grout-sealing isn’t part of the default service or that they even need sealants in the first place.

The net-net is there are a LOT of people either with no sealants or totally worn out sealants wondering why their grout is so hard to clean and look stained all the time, while their neighbor’s grout is brighter than their teeth!

If you don’t want to research which sealant to get and you’re not sure if your grout is sealed, here’s the cheat code:

First, to test your grout to see if it’s sealed, just plop a drop of water on the grout (push your thumb against the wall and put a drop on top of your finger if you're testing a vertical surface). If the bead of water absorbs in quickly, you’re in trouble.

If you want a sealant that’s pretty much idiot-proof, DIY friendly, and safe on almost all tile, 511 Impregnator Sealer* is a super safe bet. It’s safe for everything from marble to ceramic, so you can just apply it to the whole floor instead of trying to painstakingly paint the grout lines, and it dries invisible, so it won’t change the look of your tile.

First, make sure the floor is super clean and dry, as you're about to seal in however it looks for years! Then you just apply the sealant with their applicator, wait five minutes, and wipe off the excess with a disposable microfiber towel. After two coats your grout is now safe from stains for years, but just remember to check the grout with the water drop test every once in a while, so you can stay on top of resealing it.

MWipes™ Reusable Microfiber Cleaning Wipes

Microfiber wipes that are durable enough to wash yet affordable enough to throw away are perfect for wiping up products that are hard to wash out of microfiber, like sealants and finishes

511 Impregnator Sealer*

A DIY-friendly water-based sealer that’s as simple as apply, wait five minutes, wipe up, and let dry. Safe on most tile and grout and last for years with normal usage. Best of all, it’s invisible, so it doesn’t change the look of your tile or grout.

Miracle Sealant Applicator

Make your sealing project idiot-proof with a quick and easy applicator. Just dip and spread for quick, even coverage.

How to Maintenance Clean Grout without Scrubbing

Now that the grout is sealed and protected, cleaning becomes 1000x easier!

Dirt will no longer absorb into the grout and mold will no longer grow in it, so really all you have to do is wash wipe soils off of it. If you wet clean your surfaces frequently (every 1-2 weeks for high traffic areas like showers and kitchen floors), the soil load should never get so bad that you have to use aggressive chemicals and scrubbing, which is great because it helps your sealants last longer too (sealants hate abrasive powders, strong acids, harsh chemicals, and scrub brushes).

For showers and tub surrounds, just grab your favorite bathroom cleaner, spray the tile and let the product sit for at least 10 minutes, rub around to agitate it a bit with a microfiber scrubbing sponge, and rinse. So long as your tile isn’t acid-sensitive, like marble and travertine, an acid-based bathroom cleaner like Lysol Power Bathroom (or Comet Disinfecting if you clean commercially) is ideal because the acid dissolves hard water and removes stains, keeping your grout bright without the risks and fumes of bleach (if you’ve got marble, Granite Gold is your best bet).

Once the shower is clean, dry the tiles to a beautiful shine with a microfiber towel to avoid hard water spots.

Bonus tip: If you have a big walk-in shower, get a contour flexible mop and non scratch pad and you can use your mop pole in big sweeping motions to wipe down even the largest shower in moments with ease.  

For tile floors, it’s as easy as making a mop bucket of your favorite neutral pH floor cleaner and mopping with a microfiber mucho mop, designed to clean grout and other uneven surfaces. While there are a ton of floor cleaners to choose from, Mr. Clean is your safest bet because it performs well on any floor and is safe for anything from marble to finished wood and you don’t need to worry about getting a super aggressive soap now that the sealants are doing their job.

The mucho mop will also make the task far easier than usual, as the chenille fingers of the mop are uniquely designed to dig deep into grout and flick out dirt before it builds up in the first place, keeping you scrub free forever, so long as you keep up with it.

Buff™ Pro Multi-Surface Microfiber Towel  

Premium microfiber towels pick up more dirt and leave less residue, so you can clean faster with less streaks.

18" Mucho Mop Microfiber Kit

The chenille fingers of the Mucho mop dig deep to flick out and absorb dirt other mops miss. Keep your grout clean effortlessly with a mop designed to keep dirt in the crevices from building up.

The Contour Mop

The durable yet flexible mop frame can scour shower tiles and curve to navigate tubs with ease so that you can clean the largest walk-in showers with ease. Just add a non-scratch pad.

Lysol Power Bathroom Cleaner

The acid-based disinfecting bathroom cleaner is fast, easy, and effective, clinging to vertical surfaces and brightening grout without the risk of bleach.

Granite Gold Shower Cleaner

When cleaning acid-sensitive stones like marble and travertine, Granite Gold performs well without damage. While not as powerful as a traditional bathroom cleaner, for an acid-free bathroom cleaner, it’s results are very impressive

Mr. Clean Multipurpose

Mr. Clean has been one of the most popular floor cleaners for generations because it is one of the safest and most reliably effective. It’s neutral pH, so you can use it on any washable floor, and it rinses dirt and grime quickly.

Easiest Way to Clean Dirty Grout Without Scrubbing (too much)

OK, so here’s the part you’ve been bracing yourself for. How do you get your black, disgusting grout clean enough to seal and maintain in the easy ways described above without exhausting yourself and hurting your knees and back scrubbing for hours on end? The answer is, you’re going to have to invest in the right cleaning tech!

Depending on your budget and the scope of how much dirty tile you need to restore, pick the option that is right for you and your fitness level.

1. Buy a electric scrubbing hand tool

There are a ton of spin brush options on the market, but my favorite for home consumers is The Drill Brush. This ingenious kit attaches to whatever electric drill you already have and turns it into a grout blasting machine. It’s small and lightweight, making it perfect for bathroom showers and small floors. Just use it with one of the bathroom or floor cleaners listed in the maintenance section and watch the dirt fly.

2. Rent a scrubbing machine

If you have a bunch of big floors to restore, especially if they cannot tolerate acid brighteners, orbital scrub brushes are the classic go to for scouring neglected grout without a lot of manual labor. The machine blasts the floor at 175 rpm while you just glide it around and it’s under 25 lbs, so most people can control it easily. If buying one is too big an investment for your small project, many local hardware stores rent them by the day. You can even rent a larger floor scrubber affordably, just remember they can weigh 90+ lbs, so getting them to your dirty floor may be difficult. Whichever one you choose, just pair it with a neutral pH deep cleaner like Black Diamond Stonework & Tile Intensive cleaner and scour without breaking a sweat.

3. Rent a steam cleaner

If you have a lot of grout to restore and want to avoid using harsh chemicals and strong acids, steam is probably the best bet for you. It can be dangerous for amateurs, so I strongly consider how committed you are before moving forward, as professionals are more affordable than hospital burn clinics. Many large hardware stores rent steamers affordably, so as long as you are careful. It’s a fast and effective scrub-free way to blast the dirt out of your grout. It’s also a much lighter machine than the big scrubbers, which is important for those that need to drag it up flights of stairs.

4. Use an acid brightener

If your floor is durable and acid tolerant and you don’t want to scrub a lot, acid brighteners are the industry standard for chemically restoring dirty grout. Zep Grout Cleaner & Brightener is a strong acid that dissolves some of the worst grout stains. To be blunt, this is a commercial product for a reason and comes with a lot of risks, including chemical burns, eye damage, and surface damage if it splashes onto wood, paint, or acid-sensitive natural stones like marble or travertine. So if you’re going to use it make sure you get all the right goggles, rubber gloves, and read the instructions carefully. The good news is that if you use it right, it makes black grout as good as new in a few minutes without much scrubbing at all. Be wary of combining acid with any of the electrical spin tools above, as splattering acid is a recipe for disaster for an untrained home consumer.

Regardless of which of the four methods above that you select, as soon as you have deep cleaned your grout, you have to remember to seal it if you want your results to last!

No matter how pretty it looks, deep cleaning strips all remaining sealant off the grout and leaves it a sitting duck for future stains if you don’t act fast. So use the sealant instructions above as soon as your deep cleaning dries to lock in the look.


The Drill Brush

Turn your cordless drill into a scouring tool that does the scrubbing for you.

Oreck Orbiter Machine

If you have a lot of grout floors to restore and can’t use acid or steam, orbiters are a classic that is lightweight scour floors effortlessly and effectively.

Lysol Power Bathroom Cleaner

The acid-based disinfecting bathroom cleaner is fast, easy, and effective, clinging to vertical surfaces and brightening grout without the risk of bleach.

Black Diamond Intensive Stone & Tile Cleaner

When cleaning acid-sensitive stones like marble and travertine, Granite Gold brings great performance without the damage. While not as powerful as traditional bathroom cleaner, for an acid-free bathroom cleaner it’s results are very impressive

Zep Grout Cleaner & Brightener

Acid is the go-to for commercial contractors to brighten grout between durable tiles. It’s fast, effective, and requires minimal agitation. Just be sure to wear all the right safety equipment and keep it off delicate surfaces like paint, stone, and yourself.

*Warning: Always consult your installer before applying permanent sealants to porous stone or grout. At a minimum, read the instructions carefully and ensure the stone and grout are fully clean and bone dry before you trap in dirt, oil, or moisture with a sealant.

Easiest Way To Mop Your Floors

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