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What’s the best way to clean and seal grout?

(Pixabay Photo)

Those lines of grout between the tiles in your shower, on bathroom walls or in between floor tiles can get grungy and gray at times. So how can you clean up the mess?

Cleaning the grout 

Probably the best method for cleaning grout is to wet the surface of those dingy lines with mild soapy water and let it sit for a while. Then brush the lines of grout with a toothbrush and rinse off the soapy water. This can be a time-consuming job if you’re doing a large floor of tiles or tall walls in a shower or bathroom. And be especially careful not to use cleaners that contain harsh chemicals, acids, lemon, ammonia or vinegar that can ruin the surface of your tiles.

If all that sounds really tough to do yourself, you might want to hire someone who specializes in tile or stone floors to do the job for you.

Sealing the grout 

Once the grout is cleaned, you do want to seal it to protect it from dirt, mold, bacteria and mildew. Buy a high-quality, professional-grade sealer and read the directions carefully before starting applications. Here are some more tips to consider before starting the job:

1. You should only seal cement-based grout — not synthetic grouts that contain epoxy or urethane. You also should not seal grout that had a color or dye applied to it to cover up the dirt.

2. Grout sealers will break down over time, so you’re going to have to reseal grout on a floor every three to five years. Shower grout should be resealed once a year. Always clean grout carefully before doing this resealing.

3. Be sure to buy the right kind of applicator for the sealing job. A brush-tipped applicator is ideal for sealing the vertical joint lines found in showers and bathtub areas. A roller type applicator works best on tile floors or horizontal surfaces like countertops.

4. You don’t want to seal grout when it’s really hot in the house or on a surface that’s in direct sunlight in order to avoid sealer from drying on the surface of tile.

5. Work in small sections that can be finished in 5 to 10 minutes each. Make sure to thoroughly saturate the grout with the sealer. Then wipe away any excess sealer on tiles with paper towels after finishing a section.

6. Let the sealer dry for at least three hours before walking on a tile floor or using any of the tile surfaces that were sealed. And let the tiles dry completely before using the shower area again. This drying process can take a day or two.

7. If you happen to leave some of the sealer on tiles by mistake, you might see a haze on the tile once it dries. Wet it down with more sealer and you can wipe it off with paper towels.

Once the job is complete, you will be much more satisfied with the look of tile bathrooms or flooring, or backsplashes in kitchens. And the next time around, you’ll know exactly how to do it and the job will go much more quickly.

Rosie on the House

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