What Can You Do to Fix Stained Grout?

Dear Home-Ec 101,

I just read your post about scrubbing tile floors. I need to do this! I’ve swept and mopped for three years on my tile floors, and I’ve been knowing I need to do something to make the grout white again. I did the test to see if my grout had been sealed. It hasn’t! Is this why it turned brown? I feel like a terrible housekeeper! Is it too late to seal the grout after three years? Will I be able to restore them to white again? I’m looking forward to your future posts!

Signed,
Grody in Groton

Heather says:

Yes, you can make permanently stained grout look white again! I want to warn you the solution is a little labor intensive -especially in a large room like a kitchen, but the payoff is high.

First I want to remind you that grout is very porous and this why it stains so easily. You can certainly try to remove some stains, but sometimes the stain removal process can damage the grout itself. Personally, I have no interest in replacing grout, if I can at all help it which leads me to the solution for stained grout.

Stain your grout, but this time do it on purpose.

Since grout is porous, it will also accept an application of grout colorant. Grout colorants comes in a variety of colors and application methods. Some grout colorants expect you to apply with a paint brush -I do not have a steady hand, so that sounds like a nightmare for floors with tiny tiles and grout lines. There are also sponge rollers and pens. The brush application method is probably the most economical, but the pen really appeals to me.

This video has annoying background music but shows how the colorant is applied:

Thoroughly clean the tile and grout before using the colorant and have a damp rag ready to immediately wipe up any colorant that lands on the tile instead of the grout. Just like with regular paint, it’s much easier to deal with immediately than to wait.

Please keep in mind that grout colorant will quickly be absorbed by unglazed tiles, as they are nearly as porous and stain friendly as the grout itself.

Some grout colorants are also sealers others will have to be sealed after application.

Depending on the size of the room you’re looking to restore, this is a fairly inexpensive home improvement. Your biggest investment will be the time involved. Be sure to follow the package directions carefully for best results.

Good luck!

Send your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

 

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Comments

  1. We did this a few years ago! Our entire house, except the bedrooms, are tiled. We did the entire house. It took a long time, but there was something very relaxing about the process. I suppose it was akin to knitting or crocheting. Our floors now look great! And it was very inexpensive.

  2. KeterMagick says:

    If you want to try to restore the grout to white rather than color the grout to mask the stains, there are a couple of approaches you can take, and both are labor intensive.

    First, you can try to bleach the grout. Mix a paste of flour and bleach and apply wads of this to the grout lines. Cover with plastic wrap or tape to keep the mixture moist. Wait a few hours, then wipe up with a sponge and clear water. Wear rubber gloves for application and cleanup, and be sure to ventilate the area well to minimize bleach fumes.

    Second, you can remove some of the grout and install a topcoat of new grout. This is best done with a dremel tool that has a cylindrical burr bit and a depth setting collar (like a mini-router), but can be accomplished with a flat blade screwdriver and a rubber mallet used in the manner of a chisel. Work slowly and carefully to avoid damaging the tile (you will hate me if you don’t). Wash with bleach before applying new white grout.

    And this time, remember to apply sealer as soon as everything is dry. ;o)

  3. HeatherSolos says:

    @KeterMagick Great suggestions.

  4. MelissaTurnerJones says:

    We bought a condo with unsealed grout and managed to not get around to it for several years. At that point, no one wanted to do the work to clean them, so hubs Dremmeled out the grout and put new grout in (not sure why that was a better solution, but whatevs…)….and then didn’t seal it……again with the not getting around to it for a couple of years until we were renting it and moving into a single-family home. At that point I had two toddlers and was pregnant (and therefore sick) with #3 and cleaning/sealing the grout was just not at all something that we wanted to do ourselves. So we hired Stanley Steemer. We had a rather small kitchen, but even so, it was only $100. They came quickly at a time that was convenient to us and managed to work quickly, quietly, and even kept the fumes to a minimum. Then they left the remainder of the bottle of color/sealer for touch-ups. We expected it to be MUCH more expensive or we would have gone that route years earlier!

    I know that most of the responses here are for how to do it yourself, but sometimes it’s worth the expense to have it done quickly by a professional!

  5. HeatherSolos says:

    @MelissaTurnerJones I didn’t know they offered such a service at a reasonable price. Thank you for the suggestion.

  6. I have 3 young children and my grout was black in color in 60% of my kitchen.  I didn’t want to use any harsh chemicals or have harsh smells and I found something that works great and removes the stain beautifully!!Peroxide & baking soda mix, and I scrubed it on with a toothbrush.  Cleaned up without a lot of elbow grease.Whats your thoughts on this mixer?  It shouldn’t have hurt the grout, right?

  7. You’ll need to test and see if the seal on the grout is still intact. If water beads on the grout, you’re fine. If water darkens the grout, you need to seal it ASAP or you’ll have new stains to deal with in the future.

  8. Richard Black says:

    My bathroom tiles were a sight for sore eyes: the grout was stained and looked filthy. Sadly I couldn’t afford to replace the grout for the entire bathroom. I found out about Nugrout products and decided to give it a try. I am amazed by how new my bathroom now looks with the new grout color, and how affordable the entire process was. Check out their website at http://www.nugrout.com. I highly recommend them.