Best Way to Clean Grout with a Steam Cleaner

    Does your bathroom grout or kitchen backsplash look like an exhibit at the local high school’s science fair? If it does, you might dread even looking at your tile, wondering if it’s harboring mold or bacteria and what you can do to make it look better.

    Dirty grout might ruin your decor and it can also be really unsanitary. Homeowners, apartment dwellers, professional cleaners and others may wonder: Are steam cleaners effective at cleaning grout? Should you buy a steam cleaner and do it yourself or should you hire a professional to do it for you? Our guide will help you figure it out.

    Best Way to Clean Grout with a Steam Cleaner

    Why and How Grout Gets Dirty

    Grout is the stuff that you put between tiles. The most commonly-used type is cement based and it’s applied after you lay tiles on your bathroom or kitchen floor, backdrop, or shower.

    Grout comes in an array of colors that can highlight patterned tiles or provide a design element to make your kitchen or bathroom look special and unique.

    Because grout’s a porous substance, it stains easily. Even when it’s been sealed, dirt, food, and other substances can attach themselves to the surface, discoloring it and making it look gross.

    Regular cleaning may prevent stains from forming, but waiting too long between cleanings may mean you need to bring in the big guns: a steam cleaner with the power to blast away dirt and stains.

    What Do You Need to Steam Clean Grout?

    Steam cleaning grout is something any DIYer can do, but you’ll need a few things to do the job right.

    Cleaning products
    Cleaning equipment & supplies
    Tile cleaner
    Steam cleaner with a hose & brush attachment
    Distilled water
    Sponges or cleaning cloths
    Grout sealant
    Vacuum and/or broom

    For cleaning grout in a tile floor, you’ll need:

    • A vacuum or broom
    • A mop
    • Tile cleaner
    • A steam cleaner
    • A bucket of hot, soapy water

    For a tile backsplash or shower with grout, you’ll need:

    • Tile cleaner
    • Clean sponges or cloths
    • Hot water for rinsing
    • A steam cleaner

    Some steam cleaners require distilled water instead of tap water. Read the instructions before using any steam cleaner.

      Choosing the Best Steam Cleaner for Grout

      The first step to learn how to steam clean grout is choosing the proper steam cleaner for your needs. Keep in mind:

      • Steam cleaners may be large or small. Small cleaners hold less water than large ones, but they’re also easier to lift – something that may be important if you need to lift the cleaner to clean the tile at the top of your shower walls.
      • If you need to clean tile walls, make sure to get a steamer with multiple attachments. Some steam cleaners are made only for floors.
      • Check to see whether you’ll need to buy distilled water to use in your steam cleaner.

      Keep in mind that DIY steam cleaners aren’t as powerfully effective as the ones used by professionals. We’ll explain later when you might need a pro to clean your grout.

      Best Way to Clean Grout with a Steam Cleaner

      How to Steam Clean Grout: Step-by-Step Instructions

      Here are the step-by-step instructions to clean your tile floors, backsplashes, or showers, whether you’re spring cleaning or just doing your regular chores.

      How to Steam Clean Grout on Your Tile Floor

      Let’s start with tile floors, which can be the most time-consuming grout cleaning job there is.

      Step 1: Begin by sweeping or vacuuming the floor, and then mopping to ensure you’ve got a clean surface.

      Step 2: Fill your cleaner with water and wait for it to heat up.

      Step 3: Choose an attachment. In most cases, you’ll want a soft, nylon brush that won’t scratch your tiles.

      Step 4: Start in one corner of the room and work methodically, using the brush to scrub grout as you go. Really dirty grout may require several passes.

      Step 5: Stop frequently to either mop up dirty water or use a wet vac to remove it. This is an essential step because allowing dirty water to dry may re-stain the grout. Consider choosing a sturdier brush if the nylon option isn’t working.

      Step 6: Clean the entire floor after you’ve finished.

      Step 7: Reseal the grout if necessary.

      Best Way to Clean Grout with a Steam Cleaner

      How to Steam Clean Grout on Your Kitchen Backsplash

      The steps to clean a backsplash are similar to those for cleaning a floor, but there are some key differences to remember.

      Step 1: Clean the backdrop using tile cleaner and a sponge or cloth.

      Step 2: Fill the steamer with water.

      Step 3: Choose the correct steamer attachment.

      Step 4: Begin at the top of your kitchen backsplash. Remember dirty water will run down, so starting at the top is the best way to do it.

      Step 5: As steam comes out, use the brush attachment to clean the grout. For heavy stains, repeat scrubbing until stains disappear.

      Step 6: Wipe away dirty water as you go to make sure it doesn’t re-stain the grout.

      Step 7: Clean the entire area when you’re done and reseal grout if you need to.

      Best Way to Clean Grout with a Steam Cleaner

      How to Steam Clean Grout in Your Shower

      Do you need to clean the grout in your shower? Here’s what you’ll need to do.

      Step 1: Wash the tile before starting.

      Step 2: Fill the steam cleaner with water per the instructions.

      Step 3: Start at the top to avoid dripping dirty water onto clean tiles.

      Step 4: Rinse tile (use the shower if possible) to check your progress and remove dirty water.

      Step 5: Clean the entire shower when you’re done.

      Step 6: Reseal grout as needed.

      Should You Reseal Grout After Cleaning?

      When grout is sealed, it’s easier to clean because sealants aren’t porous. If your grout has been previously sealed, reapplication may not be required.

      If your grout wasn’t sealed, the Pros recommend sealing it after steam cleaning. Make sure to allow the grout to fully dry beforehand. Watch the video below to see the full process.

      When Should You Hire a Pro to Clean Your Grout?

      If your grout is badly stained and a home steamer can’t get the job done, you might need to hire a pro to do it for you. The steam cleaners designed for professional use have higher water pressure and do a better job of removing stains than those designed for home use. A pro can bring in a heavy hitter to make sure your grout looks like it was just applied.

      FAQ About Cleaning Group with a Steam Cleaner

      Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about using a steam cleaner to clean grout.

      Are steam cleaners good for cleaning grout?
      Yes, the pressurized steam in steam cleaners has more power than hand washing and can do a better job of cleaning grout.
      Does steam cleaning damage grout?
      It can if your grout isn’t sealed or it’s been a while since it was applied. Testing in an out-of-the-way area can help you decide if steam cleaning is safe.
      Do you need to seal grout after steam cleaning?
      If your grout wasn’t already sealed, or the seal is damaged, we recommend sealing your grout after steam cleaning it.
      Should you hire a professional to steam clean your tiles?
      Maybe! If your home steam cleaner doesn’t have the power necessary to remove stains, you may want to call a pro.

      Make Your Grout Look as Good as New

      Stained grout can ruin the appearance of an otherwise beautiful kitchen or bathroom. Following the steps outlined by our pros can help you remove stains and make your grout look as good as new!