Sealing Grout Makes Cleaning Tile Floors Easier

Today, I got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed my tile floor with a toothbrush.

No, I’m not Cinderella, although I may be channeling her from last weekend’s trip to Disney World. I was actually preparing the grout on my tile floors to be resealed.

If I asked you, “When was the last time you sealed/resealed the grout on your tile floor?,” how would you answer?

A. Within the last six months
B. Um, it’s been a while
C. I think we did it when our tiles were installed
D. I don’t know what you mean by “resealed the grout”

If you answered A, then ding, ding, ding! You’re a winner! You can skip this post and move on to something more fun. If you answered B, C, or D, then please read on.

The 411 on Grout Sealing

When tile floors (and backsplashes and bathroom walls) are installed in a home, they are most often left unsealed. What this means is that your grout will suck in dirt, spills, and stains like a magnet. Clearly, this is no bueno.

Sealing the grout is extremely easy and requires little effort beyond painting a straight line. Once the grout is sealed, spills and stains literally bead up and make it a million more times easier to clean.

I suggest you work on one room or section at a time. For instance, today I sealed our entry way. Tomorrow, I will do the kitchen and breakfast room. Perhaps Thursday I will do the bathrooms. Breaking it into sections like this means you don’t have to turn over your whole afternoon to the grout sealing endeavor.

Before you get started sealing, you’ll need to clean the grout so that you start with a clean surface. If your grout is mostly free from stains, you can use a mix of warm soapy water (I use liquid dish detergent).

Steps to Clean Grout:

1. Inspect your grout and look for stains that will need extra attention. Make a mental note of those areas.

2. Dip an old toothbrush into your warm soapy water mixture and scrub the grout, paying extra attention to the areas you noted above.

I have found it easiest to work in line segments, scrubbing one entire grout line at a time. It’s also faster if you have a helper join in on the scrubbing, although it would be better if said helper had an attention span longer than 3 minutes.

The process won’t take long at all. It took me about 15 minutes to complete a 30 square foot area (and would have only taken about 10 minutes if I didn’t have Zack’s help).

3. Allow the grout to dry for about 45 minutes (the grout is a darker color when wet, so you can tell when it is dry). After it’s dry, inspect again and scrub any places where stains remain.

If you still can’t get the stains off, you can buy a cleaning solution, such as this one which is made specifically for cleaning grout.

Once the grout is clean and dry, it’s time to seal it! We strive to reseal our grout every six months (since it does eventually wear off), although I’ll admit it’s been much longer that that since the last time we did it.

You’ll need to purchase some grout sealer at a home improvement store. There are several different kinds of sealer, but I prefer a penetrating sealer. This means that the sealer will keep spills and stains from soaking into the porous grout. You will also need a means to apply the sealer – you can use a small paintbrush, or a brush-tipped bottle or roller-tipped bottle specifically made for sealing grout.

Steps to Seal Grout:

1. Paint or roll the sealer onto the clean, dry grout. If your grout is newly installed, you’ll need to wait about 48 hours before you can seal it.

Apply liberally so that it forms a little river in the valley between the tiles.

2. Just as when you cleaned the grout, it’s easiest to work in line segments. This process will be much faster than the grout cleaning. It took me about 5 minutes to seal my 30-square foot section.

3. When you have finished sealing the grout, allow the solution to soak in for about 10 minutes. Then, use a microfiber cloth, towel, or old t-shirt to wipe the excess solution off of the grout and tiles.

4. The next day, run a wet mop over the area you sealed, just to make sure you got up all of the excess solution. You may see a white residue on your tiles from the excess sealers, but it will come off when you mop.

5. Repeat the process of cleaning and sealing in about 6 months!

You will be so amazed at how much easier it is to clean spills off your tile floors once the grout has been sealed. A few hours of work a twice a year will help make your floors look brand new! The difference in the how the newly sealed hallway floor looks when compared with my needs-to-be-sealed kitchen floor is night and day.

Have a tip that really works for you? Join Kristen for Works for Me Wednesday at We Are That Family!




Filed Under: Decorate Your Home 36 Comments

About Lindsay Ballard

Lindsay Ballard is a former college mascot turned political geek turned DIY fanatic who is conspiring to live in a Technicolor dream world. Her designs are bold and graphic, while her spirit is fun and full of color. Lindsay chronicles her projects and design ideas here at Makely, where she shares daily tutorials and inspiration. Lindsay lives outside of Austin, Texas with her husband (Tom), children (Zack and Emma) and dogs (Jack and Duke).



Comments

  1. Sweet. And I like the little worker you employed. He’s most adorable. After my recent encounter with a “cleaning” designated toothbrush, I shuddered a little seeing one again ;). Great tips as always, thank you!!

  2. This is a MUST in our 6 and 4 year old boys bathroom (I call it the truck stop bathroom).

    It does help!

  3. Thanks for the tips! I know this is something I need to do, but it just seems like it would be a never ending task.
    I like what you said though about breaking it up in sections and not trying to do it all in one day.
    Thanks for the motivation!

  4. i *know* i need to do this……thanks for making it seem managable!

  5. Can you tell me the grout cleaner you used? The link doesn’t work and I could really use it in my bathroom.

    Thanks for the awesome tips!

  6. thanks for the tips we need to do our bathroom!

  7. caroline says:

    I actually knew about grout sealer, and was going to look for some when I get back to Home Depot, but keep forgetting. I need to do some work on the grout in our shower and want to seal it when I’m done.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  8. We bought our house last June. I’m pretty sure that the grout in the kitchen should be white. Um, it’s not. It wasn’t when we bought it, but it’s definitely gotten worse thanks to my two year old Mr. Throws-Everything-on-the-Floor.

  9. Kara@ Creations by Kara says:

    Sheesh, I didn’t even know you were supposed to seal grout. I think it’s time I did mine!

  10. This is such great information and really does make a HUGE difference! Thanks for sharing this, I’ll be linking.

  11. The Main Ladybug says:

    I love all your helpful hints (and hubby’s too)! Guess I’ll be sealing grout this weekend instead of crafting :(

    Come see me, please!!!

    http://lifeloveladybugs.blogspot.com/

  12. I, too, didn’t know it had to be resealed! Thanks!

  13. Thanks for this great reminder!!!

    smiles, Joy

  14. SoBella Creations says:

    Thanks for the great tip! I cleaned out grout a while back. But, really had no idea it needed to be resealed.

  15. Okay. This project seems wonderful, but I have a question. My tile looks almost exactly like yours. However, my grout is pretty light. When I seal it, does it keep that dark color, or does it go back to its natural shade when dry? Also, does the grout sealer remain shiny? Looks like an awesome idea–especially for our mudroom!

  16. @Chris- Our grout is pretty light, too. When it's sealed and dry, it does go back to it's natural shade. The sealer is not shiny at all – it dries clear and matte. The pics I showed were from right after I sealed it & it was still wet, which is why it looks so dark and shiny!

  17. My friend with all boys told me Coke cleans grout. It really does!!! Just pour some on the stain and walk away. 15 minutes later, wipe it up. No scrubbing involved.

    I think I’m glad I have girls…..

  18. I use my electric toothbrush with an old brush of course.

  19. Anonymous says:

    You can buy a sealer that will make your grout darker. Just go to home depot and look for a stone enhancer and sealer. That will make your grout almost as dark as it is when its wet.
    Dianne

  20. Your readers might be interested in checking out grout colorant products as well. In addition to sealing the grout the can also be used to re-color the grout as well. You can revive the current color or even change the color entirely. Just thought some might like to know. Our product is Grout Revive but there are many out there. You can look us up if you like :)

  21. Or hire a professional company whom can be much more effective and efficient. Cleaning grout lines by hand tends to leave “unwanted residue” being embedded by sealers…Especially non-water based sealers. Good luck my friends!

  22. Actually, if you put decent sealer on the grout when it’s laid it should last 10 or more years. It’s expensive but it’s well worth it. Getting down on hands and knees to clean and reseal grout every six months is definitely not on. AquaMix make some good products (though they make some “economic” ones too, and these won’t last as long). I understand MB-4 grout sealer is also excellent; it’s certainly very expensive.

  23. My new kitchen floor is being grouted as I type. Home Depot quoted me a price of $700 for sealing my grout, which I thought was TOTALLY outrageous!!! So, I appreciate your tips and look forward to utilizing them as I do it myself. Thanks.

  24. Oxy-Clean works wonders on dirty grout!!

  25. Thanks so much for the advice! I have been scrubbing my (light beige) kitchen grout on my hands and knees once a month for seven years, I didnt even know it could be sealed and today I finally had enough and stumbled upon this. you have no idea the backachs you have just saved me!

  26. Have been looking for an “inspirational tutorial” on grout sealing!! Thanks!! I can totally do this!!!
    P.S. I have been using vinegar and water in a spray bottle (the same one I use to clean my windows/glass), spray the grout, let it soak for a minute or two, then scrub with an old toothbrush! LIKE NEW!!!! =)

  27. What an informative post! Thank you! You helped me feel more confident about sealing it myself in the future. We just got tile in our kitchen this week (after having carpet in our dining room). Who does that with kids?? It’s been awful, but I’m excited to have tile, but am nervous about keeping the grout clean. I’m pinning this so I’ll never forget. :)

    • Great! Congrats on your new tile! My big advice is to keep up with cleaning and sealing it. I let mine go too long between cleaning and now it feels like a daunting task to get it cleaned up and sealed again.

  28. Do you have any video of that? I’d like to find out some additional information.

  29. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, you’re a great author.

    I will always bookmark your blog andd will eventually come bsck very soon.
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    great writing,have a nice morning!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Sealing Grout Makes Cleaning Tile Floors Easier […]

  2. […] I’ve talked about cleaning grout before, but this time I wanted to find a way to do it without getting my hands covered in chemical grout cleaner.  My mom told me that she and my dad had used their Shark steam mom to clean their grout before.  They simply hit it with some steam and scrubbed with a toothbrush.  The problem with that method is that it took two people (one to stand up with the mop and the other to scrub) and it was unlikely that I’d have cleaning assistance from Tom.  Just keeping it real. […]

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