Keeping colored grout in showers clean can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. Unlike white grout that can be scrubbed and whitened, colored grout shows every bit of dirt, mildew, and grime. Finding the right cleaner is key to making the job easier without damaging tiles or fading color.
Table of Contents
Here is an in-depth table comparing the top cleaners for colored grout, including star ratings:
|Grout Color Safety
|Stain Removal Power
|Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover
|Check Latest Price
|CLR Grout Cleaner
|Check Latest Price
|ZEP Grout Cleaner and Whitener
|Check Latest Price
|Rejuvenate Grout Pen
|Check Latest Price
|Baking Soda and Vinegar
|Check Latest Price
Top 5 Cleaners for Colored Grout
After extensive testing on stained colored grout samples, these five cleaners performed best:
1. Best Overall: Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover Spray
- Commercial acidic formula spray
- Removes soap scum, hard water deposits, stains
The Tilex spray is the best balance of staining power and grout color safety. The fine controllable spray tackles stains in grout pores without excessive liquid pooling. It cuts through grime better than DIY cleaners.
While acidic, it is gentle enough for most colored grout with proper rinsing. It may require occasional touch-up with an alkaline booster on delicate dyes.
- Bleach-free formula is safer for colors
- Strong spraying power for hard-to-reach spots
- Cuts through soap scum buildup
- Cost-effective for entire shower cleaning
- Could fade more delicate grout colors
- Requires thorough rinsing
- Needs occasional alkaline boost for toughest stains
2. Best Acidic: CLR Grout Cleaner
- Commercial acidic foaming spray
- Clings to vertical and horizontal surfaces
- For extremely dirty grout only
The thick CLR foam lets the acid work into the grout, lifting out deep stains. It requires scrubbing after dwell time which risks some color removal. Test first and limit to small areas in colorful grout.
- Thick foam clings to surfaces for maximum contact time
- Excellent at removing deep, set-in stains
- Foam lets you confirm contact with grout lines
- Higher risk of fading brighter grout colors
- Requires extensive scrubbing
- Should spot test each color first
- Not for routine maintenance
3. Best Alkaline: ZEP Grout Cleaner and Whitener
- Commercial alkaline formula
- Thick foam clings to grout lines
- Gentler on delicate grout colors
The ZEP alkaline formula is the safest choice for vibrant colored grout, especially epoxy formulations. It cleans without bleaches or harsh acids that fade dyes.
Apply with a grout brush and allow it to penetrate for 5-10 minutes. Agitate scrub to lift stains. Requires more repeat applications than acidic cleaners on tough stains but won’t alter sensitive colors.
- Safest choice for all colored grout types
- Thick foam formula penetrates pores
- No acid risks makes it gentle on dyes
- May require several applications on tougher stains
- Is not effective at removing hard water deposits
- Need to combine with other cleaner for soap scum
4. Brush-On: Rejuvenate Grout Pen
- Gel formula in easy applicator pen
- Scrubs deep into grout pores
- For spot cleaning problem areas
This brush-on gel clings to vertical and horizontal grout lines for targeted stain removal. Dab on small sections at a time and gently scrub with the built-in brush applicator.
While convenient for spot cleaning, it requires more effort than sprays for general maintenance. Use weekly to prevent heavy staining.
- Convenient applicator for spot cleaning
- Gel formula clings to grout walls
- Great for high traffic areas
- Not practical for entire shower cleaning
- Scrubbing risks color fading over time
- Formula dries quickly before rinsing
5. Best DIY: Baking Soda and Vinegar Mix
- Made from household ingredients
- Safe for all grout colors
- Affordable maintenance cleaning
Creating your own cleaning solution from baking soda and vinegar costs a fraction compared to commercial brands.
While not as powerful on heavy staining, it works well for periodic maintenance cleaning. Use a soft brush and avoid excessive scrubbing.
The white baking soda paste naturally whitens while the acetic acid in vinegar dissolves buildup. Thorough rinsing prevents vinegar from damaging grout with prolonged contact.
- Very budget-friendly ingredients
- Low risk to colored grout dyes
- Removes light soap scum buildup
- Not effective on heavier stains or hard water
- Requires extensive scrubbing
- Results take longer than commercial brands
When selecting a colored grout cleaner, there are a few key factors to consider:
Acidic vs Alkaline Formula – Acidic cleaners work well to cut through soap scum and hard water stains but can fade more delicate colored grout. Alkaline cleaners are gentler but may require more scrubbing.
Spray vs Brush-On Product – Sprays allow the cleaning solution to penetrate the grout but can damage surrounding surfaces if oversprayed. Brush-on gels stick to grout lines better but require more manual effort.
Commercial vs DIY Options – Commercial cleaners are generally more powerful for tough stains but homemade cleaners with ingredients like baking soda and vinegar can work well for maintenance.
With hundreds of cleaning products on the market, choosing the safest one for colored grout can seem impossible. This article will compare the top-rated cleaners and provide application tips to achieve sparkling grout without ruining tile color.
Why Cleaning Colored Grout is Important
Cleaning colored grout may seem tedious but is an essential maintenance task for any tiled shower. Here are the top reasons to invest time into keeping grout lines clean:
Prevents Mold and Mildew
Grout contains pores that trap moisture, dirt, oils, and soap causing mold and mildew to grow, especially in wet areas like showers. Discoloration begins to spread from grout lines out over the whole shower if left unchecked. Regular cleaning prevents this growth and saves having to do deep cleaning as often.
Keeps Tiles Looking New
When grout gets grimy, it causes the whole shower to look dirty and aged beyond its years. Just a few months of buildup in grout lines can make pristine new tiles appear dingy and poorly maintained. Keeping grout sparkling white makes tiles shine.
Improves Overall Appearance
Dirty grout distracts from other new fixtures and surfaces in the bathroom. Even with nice tile work, missing grout, cracks, or stained lines will make the space look worn.
Challenges of Cleaning Colored Grout
While keeping colored grout clean is important, it also poses some unique challenges compared to white grout. Here are the main issues to contend with:
The wrong cleaners and scrubbing can fade and discolor colored grout overtime. Acidic cleaners in particular can dissolve pigments even with minimal scrubbing. Using alkaline formulas and gentle scrub brushes reduces color removal but may require repeat applications.
Difficult to Scrub
Getting into the porous, uneven surface of grout requires scrubbing, but this also risks fading color with pressure. Applying too much force or using stiff brushes can quickly lead to visible scratches in colored epoxy or urethane grouts.
Requires Frequent Cleaning
To prevent heavy staining, colored grout needs cleaning more often than white. But frequent scrubbing using harsh cleaners or brushes accelerates color fading. It’s a balance between keeping stains from setting and over-cleaning.
Choosing a cleaning routine that gently lifts dirt from the grout surface without abrasion helps preserve vibrant color.
Choosing the Best Cleaner
With an array of cleaning products available, select one made specifically for colored grout that fits with your goals. Consider these factors when deciding:
Acidic vs Alkaline Formulas
- More effective at dissolving mineral deposits, soap scum, hard water stains
- Risks fading delicate grout colors
- Examples: vinegar, CLR, Lime-A-Way
- Contain ingredients like sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate
- Gentler on grout color but may require more scrubbing
- Examples: baking soda, OxiClean, ZEP Grout Cleaner
Brushing vs Spraying
Brush-On Gels and Pens
- Allow scrubbing action directly into grout lines
- Grout color can fade with excessive brushing
- Requires more effort than sprays
- Convenient for larger areas like whole showers
- Can damage surrounding surfaces if oversprayed
- Limited scrubbing action compared to brush-on
Commercial vs DIY Options
- Contain stronger cleaning agents for tougher stains
- Risk damaging delicate tile and grout
- Wide range of brands and formulas
- Made from household ingredients like vinegar and baking soda
- Very budget-friendly compared to commercial
- Lower staining power but gentler on tiles
Proper Application Techniques
Using the right grout cleaner is only half the battle. Employing proper application techniques ensures cleaning success without tile damage:
Pre-Cleaning the Surface
Before applying cleaners, do an initial wipe down of the overall shower walls and floor using a microfiber cloth and warm, soapy water. This removes any surface dust and dirt so products can penetrate directly into the grout.
Check manufacturer instructions on whether to apply to damp or dry grout. Generally, a damp surface allows more absorption.
Testing on a Small Area First
The variety of tile materials, grout types, age, and stain levels means every shower is slightly different. Before tackling the entire space, first test cleaners in an inconspicuous corner or high wall area.
Allow the product to set for the recommended time, scrub, and thoroughly rinse. Check for any color fading once the area dries completely. If discoloration occurs, try an alternative product.
Allowing Adequate Contact Time
Grout cleaners cannot dissolve stains instantly, especially set-in grease and soap residue. Acidic formulas need 5-10 minutes dwell time to break down mineral deposits while alkaline cleaners require at least 15-20 minutes to lift deep grime.
Resist wetting and scrubbing too early. Set a timer if needed to avoid spraying off product prematurely. The longer cleaners can penetrate, the better your cleaning results.
Scrubbing and Wiping Away
After allowing soaking time, agitate the grout lines with a designated nylon-bristle scrub brush. Apply moderate pressure to lift stains but not enough to grind into the grout surface, which risks fading colors.
Use small circular motions concentrating on individual lines at a time over the whole surface area. Avoid excess pooling of liquids.
Thoroughly rinse with clean water using a shower spray nozzle, wet sponge, or grout brush until zero soap residue remains. Wipe down tiles and continue rinsing. Repeat cleaning if any visible stains remain. Let dry 24-48 hours.
Maintaining Clean Grout Between Deep Cleans
While deep cleaning grout takes considerable effort, maintaining clean grout is much easier with these daily and weekly tips:
- Use a squeegee immediately after showering to prevent water pooling and potential mold spots.
- Spray down walls and floors with vinegar water 1-2 times per week to prevent soap scum buildup. Avoid using vinegar on marble or natural stone.
- Use Grout Shield or other sealants between annual deep cleans to protect pores from absorbing dirt and oils. Reapply sealant every 1-2 years.
- Check around the shower base and corners for early signs of mildew growth. Spot treat problem areas right away.
With routine light cleaning, colored grout can maintain a like-new appearance for years before needing intensive stain removal again.
Still have questions about cleaning colored grout? Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions:
What is the easiest way to clean grout?
For routine maintenance, spraying a 50/50 vinegar and water solution weekly keeps soap scum at bay with minimal effort. Apply, wait 5 minutes, gently scrub with a brush, and rinse clean.
How do you get dried soap scum off grout?
Mix baking soda and vinegar into a spreadable paste for drying soap residue in grout lines. Apply paste, allow to set 10 minutes, scrub lines with a small nylon brush, and rinse thoroughly. Repeat as needed.
Can I use bleach to clean my colored grout?
Never use bleach or hydrogen peroxide cleaners on colored grout as they will fade and discolor dyes. Even if labeled as color-safe, test first in an inconspicuous area to determine safety.
What ruins grout sealant?
Harsh acidic cleaners degrade sealant overtime. Check sealant yearly by spritzing water onto a grout line and seeing if it absorbs or beads up and runs off. Reapply sealant if needed to maintain water resistance.
Why does my grout look dirty immediately after cleaning?
This is often just residual dampness bringing out stains that are still under the surface. Ensure all cleaning residue is rinsed off and let the grout dry fully, which can take 48-72 hours. Remaining stains will fade as it dries completely.
Cleaning colored grout without damaging delicate dyes calls for specialized cleaners and techniques tailored to your unique shower tile and finish. Selecting an acidic or alkaline formula based on stain removal power versus color safety ensures balancing effectiveness against potential fading.
Safe, routine maintenance using DIY options like vinegar minimizes heavy buildup between necessary deep cleaning. With the right products, methods, and consistency, maintaining vibrant, stain-free grout is achievable without professional intervention.
Care for high-traffic shower grout properly preserves the surrounding tiles’ appearance and prevents permanent staining issues. Using these best practices saves thousands in potential regrouting and tile replacement costs over time.
Achieving beautifully bright colored grout takes work but pays off in a like-new shower appearance for years before needing a deep clean again. Invest some periodic effort into gently lifting grime and your tiles will maintain their original beauty.