You probably mop your tiles regularly, but how often does cleaning the grout (pun intended) slip through the cracks?
Cleaning grout is a job that takes a lot of elbow grease. But if you are leaving the scrubbing brush in the cupboard and just hoping your grout will clean itself, you might be risking more than a sore elbow.
Why Does Grout Get So Dirty?
Grout is most commonly a mixture of water, cement and sand, which means it is incredibly porous. This means unlike the solid stone of a tile, the grout surrounding it has little air pockets which can trap moisture.
Grout also forms natural pathways for water to travel, so even as the top of tiles dry, the grout will remain damp. Because the gap between tiles is lower than the tiles themselves, the water that is trapped is hidden from airflow or the wiping motion of a mop or cloth.
Over time, this perfect storm of moisture exposure and a lack of cleaning will discolour the grout. In showers especially, grout can quickly become black and unsightly. But its appearance is just one of the issues signalled by grout discoloration.
These are 5 reasons why keeping your grout clean is essential.
1. How It Looks
The most obvious reason is how it looks. While grout serves a functional purpose by setting the position of the tiles, its colour is also considered during the design phase. It’s common for dark tiles to be paired with light-coloured grout, and vice versa, to create appealing contrasting colour schemes.
Unfortunately, if grout isn’t cleaned properly, as it grows darker it will ruin the colour scheme and even give clean tiles a dirty appearance.
2. Wear & Tear
When grout is damp for long periods of time, it can cause crumbling and flaking which can undermine the integrity of the entire tiled surface.
Another issue is a phenomenon called efflorescence, where excess moisture dries and mineral residue that is left behind appears as white specks on the surface of the grout. If your grout was originally dark colour, these white specks will look very unappealing.
To prevent these issues, and costly repairs in the future, you’ll want to be cleaning your grout regularly. It’s also worth mentioning that if you notice that your shower is never fully draining, this may be a larger problem that you’ll need to address.
Grout is naturally a breeding ground for bacteria, especially if it isn’t being cleaned regularly. Think about the main reason you use your bathroom – to get clean!
The problem is, when you have a shower, water pools on the edges and any dirt or bacteria from your body can collect in the residue. Over time, this water will leech its way into the grout and the bacteria will breed.
Without proper cleaning, your bathroom can quickly become one of the dirtiest rooms in your home. It’s also a room where you are likely to be barefoot much of the time, and any bacteria trapped in the grout of your tiles can come into contact with the bare skin of your feet.
Another area that is susceptible to bacteria growth is the kitchen. Food scraps will quickly attract and spread bacteria throughout your kitchen. A common place where this occurs is in the splashback behind the kitchen sink. Given the kitchen is where you prepare meals, you can’t afford to have dirty, bacteria-laden grout that could contaminate your food and make you sick.
Similar to bacteria, the spread of mould through grout is also very common when it isn’t cleaned regularly enough. Bathrooms tend to be very humid places. The heat from hot showers or baths and leftover moisture can quickly lead to mould growth.
While mould can cause harm like skin or allergy irritation, it’s also a physical safety hazard. Mould on tiles is slippery, especially if the grout hasn’t been cleaned in a long time and there is a lot of it.
As the water that grout traps becomes stagnant, it begins to smell. Then, as mould and bacteria set in, this smell becomes even worse. If grout is located in a bathroom, add in high humidity and heat and you have a real problem.
While a bad smell may seem less important than costly damage or becoming sick, you can’t afford to underestimate how much a bad smell can affect your enjoyment of your home.
The bathroom is the place where you probably start and end your day. Do you really want your day to be bookended with an unpleasant experience? Not to mention, you may feel embarrassed and self-conscious to have guests over in case they notice the smell of your bathroom and think of you as a messy person.
By cleaning your grout regularly, you can eliminate the threat of a bad smell setting in and enjoy being in your bathroom again.
How to Look After Your Grout
The key to keeping your grout healthy and looking good is to take measures to prevent excess moisture, and to use cleaning products that are effective. Here are three things you can do to prevent grout discoloration.
Use A Mould Resistant Grout
Novatex sells high quality grout and grouting accessories. One product that stands out is their Novagrout, which comes in smooth or sanded varieties. There are two qualities that this product has that sets it apart from the rest.
The first is that it is mould resistant. Mould is the most common reason for grout discolouration, so preventing it with the right grout may just save you a lot of time cleaning it later.
The second is that it is a non-shrink grout, which means if your grout won’t be prone to expanding and contracting when it gets damp and then dries, or when it gets hot and then cools. This will help prevent future crumbling.
Litokol offers an exceptional range of sealants for providing another layer of protection for your grout. Once a grout is set, sealants can be applied over the top to create a barrier that can resist water penetration, mould and bacteria.
They come in a range of colours and are easy to use. Most are also reusable, so if you don’t use the entire tube at once you aren’t wasting what’s left over. See the full range here.
Use Purpose-Made Grout Cleaners
Aqua Mix® is the leading brand in specialised tile, stone and grout cleaning products. If you want to cut down on the time and energy it takes to clean your grout, the Aqua Mix® Grout Deep Clean is for you. It can be sprayed into grout joints to cut through grime in just 10 minutes. While it’s working, it even helps restore the original colour.
By combining these three products, you now have a plan of attack to keep your grout spotless!
Central Coast Tile & Stone Warehouse
At Central Coast Tile & Stone Warehouse, we know that it isn’t just the tiles that are important, but the grout as well! That’s why we sell all of the products listed in this article at our store, located on the corner of Greives Rd and Manns Rd, West Gosford.
If you’d like to enquire about our one-stop shop for grout laying and maintenance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
For more information, visit our website.