You walk into your bathroom and notice some discoloration in your tile grout. This discoloration is due to the porous nature of grout. Tile grout is mostly made from Portland cement, sand and coloring. This combination allows for tiny holes to develop. As with any hole, it has a tendency to be filled. Dirt and grime collect in these tiny holes over time if a grout is not sealed when it is applied. This dirt discoloration is called grout haze.
You will need a grout haze remover because normal cleaning does nothing but move dirt from tiny hole to tiny hole. Also mopping tile grout allows form dirt from the mop to assist in hole filling by depositing more dirt from other mop cleaning into the holes. So the lesson is, if your grout is not sealed you will almost certainly get grout haze.
How to Deal With grout Haze
The best way to deal with it is to use a wet/dry vacuum with a grout haze remover solution and suck the dirt from the tiny holes. The best way to prevent it is to seal the grout with a sealer. The sealer is usually a very expensive and messy process so you have to weigh a one time expensive mess to never clean again or some elbow grease and some vacuuming to clean a recurring problem. Small preventive steps can help with keeping grout clean. Removing shoes before entering your home can reduce transferred filth. Also, rugs and mats on your floor can help divert some dirt.
Tips and tricks to Clean Grout
Everyone has a super cleaner that they cook up in their kitchen by combining items into a spray bottle and use it on their dirty grout. Here is one that seems to be a home maker favorite:
1/2 cup of baking soda
1/3 cup of ammonia
1/4 cup of white vinegar
7 cups of water
Add the contents to a spray bottle and spray on a sponge or rag and wipe the grout down. No need to rinse. This mixture works well with soap scum in your bathroom. Do not use this combo with chlorine bleach or where you have used chlorine bleach already.
As a rule, Ammonia and Chlorine DO NOT play well together. On the flipside, you can use Chlorine to get rid of mold and mildew on your grout. Use one part bleach to 5 parts water and scrub with a bristle brush. Rinse thoroughly afterwards.
Ceramic Tile Cleanup
The type of grout haze that gets on ceramic tile grout is called efflorescence. This is cause by certain minerals in Portland cement, which is the main product used in ceramic tile grout, that come to the surface and cause a white residue.
The efflorescence will appear usually after the grout has had time to fully cure. This takes around 3 days. You need to visit your local hardware store and pick up some sulfamic-acid cleaner. It may be marketed as a grout haze remover, but look for the sulfamic acid as an ingredient.
The main issue here is safety. You are dealing with an acid, so the use of protective goggles and gloves would be recommended. Spray the cleaner, let set for a few minutes then wash it away. If you are feeling highly skilled you could use a pumice stone to clean your dirty grout.
The highly skilled aspect comes into play because you are using a piece of rock on your ceramic tile. One slip and you have put a noticeable scratch into your tile. As with any cleaning, you need to find what works best for you and your home. If it is sealing it up and not worrying about it again or the occasional scrub down grout haze can be defeated so do not worry if you see a little change in your grout color, it is just dirt.