Keeping your shower grout and tiles in good repair is a perfect example of a task that can reap big rewards with some preventative measures and on-going maintenance. We all want our bathrooms to stay clean and hygienic as long as possible, free from harmful fungus, mold, and microbes. And with today’s raised consciousness about protecting the environment, what are the best ways to have–and keep–a healthy, clean shower and tub area without using harsh chemicals that can harm your family?
Begin by asking the installer to use caulk in the corners and along the edges of the tile instead of grout. The caulk is mixed with latex, which doesn’t shrink over time. Grout will shrink because it is mixed with water and this could result in cracks in the corners and floor edges, providing easy access for fungus and mold. If you see missing grout or caulk, it needs to be replaced quickly to prevent water from seeping into the wall and causing even more, potentially costly, problems.
Cut Down On Moisture
Dampness in the bathroom is the biggest culprit to problems with grout and tile. Fungus and mold thrive in damp surroundings, so consider using a dehumidifier or fans to dry things out a bit between uses of the shower. You can avoid expensive re-grouting jobs by reducing the amount of water in the bath. Get a squeegee to remove as much water off the walls and door as possible after every shower. The less water left means fewer mineral deposits that can build up on the tile and grouted areas.
Partially open the shower door or curtain while showering to lessen the moisture in the stall or tub area, and open a window if possible. Leave the shower door or curtain open in between uses. Run the vent fan for 15 minutes or so after you leave the bathroom.
Dirt, grime, and soap can seep into the grout over time, which results in stains and discoloration of the tile. Train family members to use that squeegee after every shower to remove excess water, soap, and dirt which leads to discoloration and damage. Bathers can switch to liquid soap to reduce the scum build up in the tub or stall. You can lessen water pooling and the resultant mildew and slime by using a rack with an open bottom for the plastic bottles of liquid soap. Shampoos that contain colorful dyes can stain grout, so pick dye-free products as much as possible.
Powerful DIY Cleaners
Mix up 4:1 vinegar to water solution and spray all glass and tile frequently to keep everything clean and shiny. (Don’t use vinegar on marble or travertine. Purchase a product made for those materials.) Another mixture for daily cleaning is full-strength distilled white vinegar with a few drops of tea tree oil; one drop of oil to every 2 ounces of vinegar should do it. The vinegar cuts down on scum and slime, while the tea tree oil fights mildew and mold.
Beyond that, deep clean the bath every week or so to get rid of the body oils and soap scum left behind from daily showers. During that weekly cleaning, pay attention to the shower head. Check for reduced water flow, which indicates a buildup of minerals on the head. When needed, wrap it in a plastic bag filled with white distilled vinegar, tie it to keep it in place overnight and then remove. Run the water to remove the loosened buildup. Related to that is keeping up with leaky faucets and shower heads; the goal is to reduce water build up anywhere in the bathroom, so repair those leaks as quickly as possible.
Keeping the grout clean is one of the most important tasks in the bathroom, not only for the beauty of the room but also for your family’s health and safety. Scrub the grout with a mixture of baking soda and water or vinegar. If you notice more staining than usual, mix the baking soda with hydrogen peroxide and scrub the grout using a discarded toothbrush. (Do NOT mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar.) You can also make a paste with borax or baking soda and a small amount of water. Apply the paste directly to the mold and let it sit for 10 minutes or so. Scrub it with a bristle brush and then wipe off with water and dry it when you are satisfied with the results. Salt is also an effective cleaner for mold. Simply sprinkle the salt onto a wet cloth and then apply to the grout. Leave it on overnight and then wipe it off with water.
Tough Grout Stains Need Tough Options
The next tactic to use if the grout is even more seriously stained is to use bleach. Use oxygen-type powdered bleach instead of liquid. It’s a bit gentler and usually can still take care of stubborn stains. Make sure to follow directions carefully and also to ventilate the area thoroughly before beginning. Apply it with a brush and remove in about 15 minutes with clean water. Bleach reduces the water repellency of the grout, so use sparingly. Try to keep the grout clean without having to use bleach, and don’t use bleach on colored tile or grout. It will fade and discolor them.
As a last resort, use the chloride bleach spray, and again make sure to ventilate the room well. Test it on a small area first to make sure it doesn’t damage the grout.
If nothing we’ve mentioned above works, it’s time to call in the experts. Professional tile and grout cleaning companies have access to professional grade cleaning materials that are safe for both you and your tile and grout. They also have the experience to get the tile and grout clean or renew the grout. Oftentimes the grout can be renewed with the same color or you may want to go with a darker color so stains aren’t as visible. This process adds protection against future stains and extends the life of the grout.
It’s also a good idea to have the grout resealed professionally every six months or so to reduce stains. You can do this more often if there are many people using the shower. Resealing will greatly help extend the life of your tile and grout.
Contact Us to Take Care of Your Shower Grout and Tiles
Taking care of the grout and tile in your home need not be a full-time job. With a little preventative work on a daily basis, periodic maintenance as needed and professional help for the tough work, you can keep your family safe and your home as beautiful as it was the day you moved in.
If you are needing a powerful and effective solution for your tough grout and tile stains, call the experts at Fabric & Tile Masters. We are the leading experts in tile and grout cleaning in Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra, and the surrounding areas. We also offer tile and stone repair and restoration services as well. Contact Fabric & Tile Masters today to leave the tough work to the professionals so you can get back to what matters most.