Cleaning grout is a dreaded chore for most people. They cringe at the thought of doing it. It’s a tedious task that entails immense elbow grease, time, and toxic detergents. Unfortunately, after your efforts, there’s a chance you might still notice traces of stubborn grunge.
Here’s where steam cleaning comes into play. It’s a great alternative in both respects if done properly. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, you’ll learn the nitty-gritty of how to steam clean grout.
Will Steam Cleaning Ruin Grout?
In a nutshell, no! According to the Tile Council of North America, steaming is the recommended method for cleaning grout. Therefore, unless the grout is falling apart due to poor installation or it’s old, you shouldn’t encounter any problems.
Step-By-Step Process: How to Steam Clean Grout
Grout is the paste-like substance that hardens to fill crevices between your tiles. Most homes have conventional grout made of cement. That’s because it’s a sturdy and durable material.
Furthermore, cement is porous, which means it usually absorbs stains. Getting it spick and span is an uphill battle. Muck that’s easily wiped off your tiles ends up seeping into the grout and is then absorbed.
What you may not realize is that heat is an element to which most grout stains succumb. Additionally, water only vaporizes to become steam at 212°F. As a gas, steam can exceed this high temperature.
For that reason, steam is regarded as one of the most reliable and powerful sanitization techniques. According to the CDC, steam is best suited for sterilizing healthcare facilities which is why it should suffice for your home.
Here’s a step-by-step process of how to clean grout.
1. Select the Most Ideal Steam Cleaner for Grout
Not all steam cleaners are suitable for all cleaning techniques. While a bulky wheeled model might be ideal for your floors, it’s impractical to use on your walls. Portable handheld models such as the Blac
k Decker HGS200 are a lifesaver for small tasks. Nevertheless, the small tank capacity might be frustrating for larger tasks due to the frequent refills.
What happens if you own one of these smaller models and are unwilling to shell out extra bucks on a larger device? Your best bet would be to conduct your due diligence to discover whether the manufacturer sells accessories designed with grout cleaning in mind.
For instance, extended hoses for bulkier commercial carpet cleaners or scrub brushes for the handheld counterparts. You also have free rein to rent a steam cleaner for a specified timeframe if you want to save on the cost of buying one. You can reach out to Home Depot or your local hardware shop for availability.
When looking for a steam cleaner to clean grout, consider the following factors to avoid unwarranted surprises down the road.
Consider the amount of grout you want to clean. If most of your home is tiled, you’ll want a steam cleaner with a larger tank that can last longer without refills, ideally at least an hour.
Granted, heavy-duty models usher in their perks. However, they might be impractical if you have tiled walls. Therefore, ensure you opt for a device that can easily reach all the areas that require steaming.
Particular steam cleaners come with attachments for particular uses. Therefore, keep your eyes peeled for products that sell or include brushes or nozzles for grout. The more accessories you have, the more versatile your steam cleaner is. As a tip, steer clear of brass or stainless steel brushes as they might damage your ceramic tiles. Instead, you want to opt for nylon bristle brushes.
2. Clean the Area
Some items are not steam-safe and must be kept out of the way during the steam cleaning process. The last thing anyone needs is the contamination of nearby items with steamed muck.
Examples of these items include utensils, cookware, toothbrushes, and delicate Persian rugs. Additionally, you should make sure that curious pets and kids are not nearby when you kick off the process.
3. Get Rid of Surface Dirt
Contrary to what you may assume, removing surface dirt is low-effort preparation, which means minimal elbow grease is required in this step. It entails:
Run your vacuum across your tiled floors to eliminate pet hair or dust for a clean starter surface.
Wipe Away Gunk
If you intend to steam clean moisture-abundant areas such as your kitchen or bathroom, we recommend first wiping off as much surface grime as possible. That will save you the hassle of interrupting the process to clean your steam brush every few minutes.
You can use a solution of baking soda and vinegar in a spray bottle on the tile grout prior to steam cleaning. Once applied, scrub the dirty grout with a grout brush or other scrub brush. This cleaning solution helps remove any gunk like soap scum and grout stains from each grout line before you go in with your steam cleaner.
4. Prepare Your Steam Cleaner
Consult the rental or manufacturer guidelines to get your steam cleaner ready for action. Fill it with tap or distilled water as required and give it a few minutes to heat to the appropriate temperature. Now, attach the accessory you want to use on the grout.
5. Begin the Steam Cleaning Process
Once your gadget is ready to use, it’s time to safely begin the steam cleaning process by following the steps below.
Top to Bottom
During the steaming process, start with the top areas, working your way to the bottom. Doing so avoids loose dirt from dripping down to your floors; otherwise, you will have to redo them.
Cover Small Areas
Avoid steaming sporadically. Instead, work on one section at a time to allow the steam to break down stubborn grunge in your grout.
Clean the Brush Periodically
If you’re using a brush, examine it frequently because it can lose its efficiency. When the bristles are thick with crud, they won’t get the job done.
As a tip, keep your eyes peeled for scalds. These are painful burns that steam causes. You can avoid this predicament by keeping your hands away from the stream of steam.
6. Rinse and Repeat If Necessary
Use clean water to rinse off the steamed sections before wiping them with a wet towel. If they look good as new, you can applaud yourself for a great job. However, if you still notice discolorations despite your efforts, you might need to repeat the process a few times.
7. Seal the Grout
Once the grout cleaning process is complete, that’s your cue to seal the grout. It’s worth keeping in mind that cement-based grout must be sealed annually or biannually.
Therefore, invest in sealants that are best suited for your style of grout and tiles. Additionally, the application process for grout sealer is straightforward and doesn’t require roping in a professional to get the job done.
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Hiring an Expert
If you’re curious as to the options you have if you opt not to go the DIY route, then you can get free quotes from professional cleaning companies in your jurisdiction. Although the experts use industrial-grade, high-powered steam cleaners, their services will cost you significantly more. After all, their devices are truck-mounted and contain a built-in vacuum to minimize the mess.
To wrap it up, steam cleaning tile grout shouldn’t be an intimidating process. It’s simple and makes all the difference in how your tiles look. Sealing your grout after it is spick and span will help in ensuring it remains grunge-free. Lastly, aim to conduct maintenance steaming once every four to six weeks.