Despite all your efforts to prevent mildew and mold from taking hold, white grout does eventually get dingy and discolored, especially in corners and along ledges where water settles. That’s when you need a good grout cleaner. Nothing is a faster facelift for your bathroom than restoring stained grout to a clean and brilliant state.
When the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab tests bathroom and grout-cleaning products, we assess how easily and quickly they cut through the dirty grout lines on our ceramic and marble tile test panels. We review the labeling and directions for completeness and any required safety precautions and evaluate how easy the products are to apply and rinse off. Then, consumer testers take them home to clean the soap scum and mildew stained grout in their own showers that you just can’t duplicate in a lab.
These are the best products for cleaning grout according to the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab tests:
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Best Overall Grout Cleaner
Bath and Kitchen Foaming Action Cleaner
We swear by the CLR Bath & Kitchen Cleaner, which cleans stained grout quickly — and without bleach. Simply spray, let it set a few minutes, scrub, rinse, and you’ll see the grout whiten as it dries. It also dissolves soap scum and hard water stains on sinks, tubs, and shower doors. Your shower will be so clean, you won’t be able to stop admiring it.
- EPA Safer Choice Certified
- Recommended only for white grout
Best Gel Grout Cleaner
Bleach Cleaner Gel
Soft Scrub with Bleach Cleaner Gel is best for large flat areas (like floors, countertops or tub ledges) as its pointed nozzle top makes it easy dispense and target your application just where it’s needed. Run it straight along grout lines, let it work for a few minutes, brush, and rinse. And because it’s a gel, it stays where you put it to better penetrate grimy grout and bleach out stains, instead of running off like liquids can. Use this non-abrasive gel formula to clean and remove stains from countertops, sinks, tubs and more.
- Bleaches out stains
- Rinses off easily
Best Long-Lasting Grout Cleaner
24 Hour Bathroom Cleaner
Not only does this new bathroom cleaner kill germs on-the-spot, but it keeps working for up to 24 hours, even after surfaces are repeatedly touched. That’s peace of mind for busy households knowing that surfaces stay cleaner longer. And not only does it clean away soap scum and whiten grout, but after cleaning, thoroughly wet the surface with another coat of the spray and let it air dry. Repeat every seven days to keep mold and mildew from returning.
- Sanitizes surfaces for up to 24 hours
- Prevents mildew growth for up to seven days
Best Germ-Killing Grout Cleaner
Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover Spray
Tilex practically wrote the book on grout cleaning and this latest formula not only whitens grout and removes stains, but kills 99.9% of mold and mildew germs and bacteria, too, in only five minutes. Simply spray the grout, let the formula penetrate and rinse. In most cases, there’s no scrubbing needed. Super innovative is its Smart Tube Technology bottle, where a special tube inside runs along the side of the bottle to draw out every drop for less waste.
- Kills germs
- Cleans without scrubbing
- Fumes can be bothersome
- Can discolor fabrics
Best Grout Cleaner for Marble
If you have marble in your bathroom or granite tile floors in your entry, you likely already know that most traditional bathroom and grout cleaners are not recommended for use on these stone surfaces as the chemicals they contain can etch natural stone. Granite Gold is a company with its roots in fabricating and restoring stone surfaces, so they know a thing or two about how to properly care for them. Granite Gold Grout Cleaner is formulated without acid or ammonia, two ingredients that can damage stone. It’s also safe for porcelain, ceramic, and glass tile and for use on food contact surfaces, like tile countertops.
- Safe to use on natural stone
- Works on white and colored grout
- May not be as effective on very dirty grout
Best Grout Spot Cleaner
The handy Clorox Bleach Pen Gel makes spot cleaning easy. Just dispense a little gel from the wide end of the pen, scrub with the built-in brush, and rinse. Keep one in your laundry room to zap clothing stains and one in each bathroom to nab mildew.
- Can be applied directly to stains
- Has a scrub brush tip
Best Grout Cleaning Brush
Smart Scrub Heavy Duty Grout Brush
The tough-scrubbing Casabella Smart Scrub Heavy Duty Grout Brush has a triangular-shaped head so it’s easy to get into corner grout lines. Plus, the stiff bristles don’t bend under pressure, the soft grip makes it comfortable to hold, and the double-sided design allows for cleaning from all directions. Our GH Cleaning Lab loves it so much, it just named it one our Best Cleaning Products 2020 Award winners. Now, you can ditch the toothbrush for good!
- Sturdy bristles
- Double-sided for better coverage
How to choose the best grout cleaner
It may seem like all grout cleaners are created equal, but that’s not necessarily the case. When choosing the best cleaner for your dirty grout location, keep the following points in mind:
- Consider the stains. Bleach is a great whitener and germ-killer, so if your grout if very badly stained with mold and mildew, a strong bleach-containing cleaner will be your best bet and likely require the least amount of scrubbing. If it’s floor tile grout you’re cleaning that’s simply dirty or discolored or you’re fastidious about drying the shower daily and have only occasional spots, a milder formula should suffice.
- Think about surface safety. Read the label before buying any grout cleaner to be sure it is safe to use on the surfaces you’ll be cleaning. Some are suited only for white, not colored, grout and others can damage adjoining tiles made of natural stone, like marble or granite.
- Choose your form. Sprays and foams are easy to apply, but can run or drip off vertical surfaces before the job is done, meaning you may have to reapply. And the fumes can be irritating to some, especially when used in small spaces. Thick gels stay in place for longer contact time but can take more effort to rinse away.
How to prevent mildew in the first place
Because cleaning dingy grout takes a fair bit of elbow grease, there are some steps you can take to help keep scrubbing to a minimum. Our Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab recommends these preventative measures to help keep mildew at bay:
- Open a window while showering and, if you have one, run an exhaust fan. Removing as much heat and moisture as possible from the room minimizes the warm, moist conditions that mildew needs to grow.
- Squeegee the tiles and even better, dry them with a towel when showering is done for the day. Investing a few minutes daily will save hours of scrubbing and even extend the time between the needs for deep cleanings.
- Keep grout sealed to prevent moisture and stains from penetrating the surface. Sealed grout is easier to clean and keep clean.
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