How to Clean Stained Bathroom Tile

Dear Home-Ec101,

Hi Home-Eccers! Love the site – thanks so much for a return to the basics (that I should have learned LONG ago).

My husband and I have been in our new home for about a year and a half, and we’ve never been happy with the cleanliness of the tiles in our shower. It’s an older home (1940s) but I don’t know if the tile is original or not (I’m thinking not). Anyway, while parts of the tile are clean, there are some parts (including the corners) that are just disgusting. We’ve tried green cleaners (both pre-packaged and homemade), 409, Soft Scrub and a bleach pen. I think we tried Magic Eraser, too. Any advice?

The bathroom setup isn’t ideal, because we have no exhaust fan, and the humidity after a shower is perfect for growing and nurturing mold and other buggers. When it’s as cold as it has been recently, we can’t really bring ourselves to crack the window to ventilate.

The final factor here is that I’m pregnant and want to both 1) have a clean house and 2) not poison ourselves or the gestating one. Any advice would be most appreciated.

Signed,
Preggo and finicky

stripey-shirt.JPGIvy says:

Ah, the attack of the mildewed shower. Once mildew sinks in deep, it’s hard to get clean. Fortunately, your girl Ivy is here with some tips!

You can always use an old toothbrush to get at the stains, but I like a good grout brush, such as this one. Grout brushes have stiffer bristles than toothbrushes, and they’re curved to make it easier to get into the corners.

Take your grout brush and some Bar Keeper’s Friend (no, we don’t work for them, but we’d be all kinds of happy if they’d sponsor us) and try scrubbing off the mildew. That should work, but if it doesn’t, we’ll have to pull out the big guns.

This is something you’d better have your husband do, since you’re pregnant and it is not a well-ventilated area. Get your handy-dandy grout brush back out and try scrubbing it with wax stripper. Be sure to test on a hidden area first- it may not be safe for all types of tile.

If that doesn’t work, you can try spraying on a 50/50 bleach mix and leaving it to sit for 15 minutes, then scrub off. Again, this is a job for your super husband, since we don’t want you inhaling bleach fumes right now. I like to run a box fan while doing any heavy duty bleach work.

*****Note: Using bleach directly after using Bar Keeper’s Friend (Oxalic Acid) can cause an odorless noxious gas that can cause brain damage, lung damage, or worse. Please use caution and make sure you’re spacing this apart AND have cleaned the Bar Keeper’s Friend off VERY thoroughly.*******

One of these methods will surely work. Now, to keep the mess from coming back, be sure you are drying your shower walls every time you take a shower, and leave your shower door or shower curtain open to let your shower “breathe”.

Thanks for this great question!

Submit your household questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.



3 Comments

  1. Ryanna on May 5, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    If you have ever accidentally splattered your laminate countertops, sink, floor etc. with paint while rolling your walls try bar keepers friend. I wanted the kitchen done yesterday and forgot to lay a drop cloth down 🙁 I have also used it on my dishes to remove rust, coffee, and caked on food. It makes my dogs stainless steel bowls look new no matter how old they get. Works great for the tile in my shower, the tub, and the odd shooe scuffs on the lanolium. It got the gewy mess out from under the burners on my stove when nothing else would. Basicallly I cant see a day without it, as it has saved us time and money.

  2. knitaddict on March 7, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    Bar Keeper’s Friend to the rescue! Man oh man, my parents house was practically COVERED in tile and the ONLY thing that worked was Bar Keeper’s Friend. One thing to add, though, my Mom was such a stickler about our massive TILED shower stall (what would possess someone to tile an entire shower stall…a glutton for punishment, much???)…after every shower, we had to spray it down with 50/50 bleach water mix…and between the BKF and the bleach mix, it kept that shower spic and span.

  3. Jamie on March 7, 2007 at 10:41 am

    LOVE the new blog! Boy do I need help. 😉

    Our house was built in 1968 and we have the fugly colonial blue (although I think that color is en vogue now) and white tile. I have the hardest time keeping the white floor tile clean. I love Bar Keeper’s Friend but haven’t tried it in the bathroom. Great tips!

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