Cleaning grout is one of those chores that most of us dread. It’s usually tedious work that involves toxic detergents, elbow grease, and lots of time. Sadly, you may still find traces of stubborn grunge after all your efforts.
Steam cleaning can be an effective alternative in both respects — if done correctly. Our guide will reveal the nitty-gritty for how to steam clean grout.
- Steam cleaning is an effective method for cleaning grout and is recommended by the Tile Council of North America.
- Choose a steam cleaner with the right reach, tank capacity, and accessories to effectively clean grout.
- Prepare the area by removing surface dirt with a vacuum cleaner and wiping away grime.
- After steam cleaning, seal the grout to maintain its cleanliness and prevent future staining.
Can Steam Cleaning Damage Grout?
The Tile Council of North America recommends steaming as a cleaning method for grout (1). Unless your grout is falling apart (e.g., ancient or poorly installed), you shouldn’t have any issues.
How to Steam Clean Grout
Grout is porous, which makes it far more challenging to clean than slick surfaces. Muck that’s easily wiped off your tiles ends up sinking into your grout.
Heat, though, is an element that most stains succumb to. Steam is also recognized as one of the most powerful and dependable sanitization methods (2).
If you want to steam clean your grout, you’ve chosen wisely. Let’s get into the step-by-step instructions.
- Time: 30-60 minutes (depending on the area size)
- Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate
What You’ll Need
- Steam cleaner for grout
- Vacuum cleaner
- Microfiber cloths
- Grout sealant (optional)
1. Choose the Best Steam Cleaner for Grout
Not all steam cleaners are compatible with all applications. We recommend looking for one that has an extended hose (if you’re going for a large model) or scrub brushes (if you’re choosing a handheld steam cleaner).
You can also rent a steam cleaner for a set time if you don’t want to buy one. Call up your local hardware store or a Home Depot for availability.
Here’s what you should look out for when shopping for a steam cleaner for grout:
- Reach: Heavy-duty steam cleaners have their advantages but may not work if you have tiled walls. So make sure you choose a device that can reach everywhere you need to steam.
- Tank capacity: How much grout do you need to tackle? If most of your home is tiled, look for a model with a bigger water tank for a longer runtime without refills.
- Accessories: Certain steam cleaners come with attachments for specific uses. Look for products that include or sell brushes for grout (although you can use nozzles too). The more accessories there are, the more versatile your steam cleaner will be.
Watch Out For Metal Brushes
2. Clear the Area
Some items are not steam-friendly and must be kept out of the way while you work. Plus, you don’t want to contaminate surrounding items with steamed-off gunk.
Remove delicate Persian rugs, take away toothbrushes, and move kitchen utensils aside. You should also ensure that curious kiddos and pets won’t be nearby.
3. Remove Surface Dirt
Don’t worry, this is low-effort preparation. There’s no arm-tiring scrubbing required at this stage.
- Vacuum floors: Run your vacuum over your tiled floors to eliminate dust (or pet hair) for a clean starter surface.
- Wipe away gunk: Are you steaming moisture-heavy areas like your bathroom or kitchen? Try to wipe off as much surface grime as possible using a damp cloth or a mop. You don’t want to have to pause to clean your steam brush immediately after starting.
4. Ready Your Steam Cleaner
Consult the manufacturer or rental guidelines to get your steam cleaner ready. Fill it with water as directed (e.g., distilled or tap) and let it heat up. Then attach the accessory you’ll be using on your grout.
5. Start Steam Cleaning Grout
Follow these steps for safe and effective cleansing:
- Work top to bottom: Steam the highest areas first and work your way down. Otherwise, loosened-up dirt could drip down to your floors, and you’ll have to redo them.
- Cover small sections: Don’t start wildly steaming in random directions. Work on small sections and go slowly. Give the steam a chance to break down stubborn grunge in your grout.
- Clean brush periodically: If you’re using a brush, examine it frequently. After all, if the bristles are thick with crud, it won’t be very efficient.
Watch Out For Scalds
6. Rinse and Repeat (If Needed)
Rinse the steamed areas with plain water, or wipe them down with a wet towel. If they look brand new, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done. But if you still notice discolorations, you may have to repeat the steaming.
7. Sealing Grout After Steaming
Keep your grout looking great by sealing it once you’re finished. Cement-based grout should be sealed yearly, at a minimum (5).
Look for sealants that are recommended for your style of tile and grout. Applying it is straightforward: most amateurs should manage it easily.
Hiring a Professional to Steam Clean Grout
Are you wondering what options you have if you don’t want to go the DIY route? You can get quotes from professional cleaning companies in your area.
The pros use high-powered, industrial-grade machines. They’re often truck-mounted and include a built-in vacuum to minimize the mess (6).
Keeping Your Grout Pristine
Steam cleaning grout is nothing to be intimidated about. It’s a simple process that can make an enormous difference in how your tiles look.
Sealing your brilliantly clean grout will go a long way towards keeping it grunge-free. Aim to perform a maintenance steam every so often.
Finally, always clear the area of vulnerable family members and sensitive items before you steam. And remember, you can always hire an expert if you’re not up to it.