Non-hazardous ways to clean shower grout
January 24, 2019 11:10 AM   Subscribe

My shower grout consistently gets gross and I really need to find some kind of cleaning regimen that I can actually stick to.

What I'm doing now is spraying a water/vinegar mixture on it, letting it soak in, and then scrubbing like a madwoman. This kind of works but my hands get sore before I can finish the job and then I end up not doing it again for a while. I’ve heard of “leave on” or “no scrub” shower sprays, but I tend to be sensitive to chemically smells. Does some kind of miracle product exist that is leave-on/light scrub and will not give off headache-inducing fumes?
posted by massofintuition to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Bleach pen? Less smell than spray but bleach is the only thing that works on grout for me.
posted by agregoli at 11:15 AM on January 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

Second bleach pen. Also get a shower squeegee and make sure everyone uses it thoroughly after every shower. This puts off the need for the bleach pen by months.
posted by Botanizer at 11:18 AM on January 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

You don't say what you're scrubbing with, but I've had much better (and much less physically painful) results scrubbing my shower with a brush with a handle (Libman has several similar brushes) than with any kind of sponge.

I've heard that heating the vinegar/water before spraying makes it work better. When I've tried it, it doesn't seem to hurt, but I haven't done any real testing to see if it's really worth it.
posted by asperity at 11:18 AM on January 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Grout sealant is a thing that exists. I have not tried it, but if you seal your grout so the surface isn't porous anymore, then, in theory, you should have less mold and if you do get mold it should come off more easily.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:24 AM on January 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

Seconding having a squeegee in the shower, and making sure that everyone uses it after every shower. Makes a HUGE difference in the overal grunginess of the shower, and can prevent a lot of hard water stains, if that's also an issue.
posted by Jade Dragon at 11:32 AM on January 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

One thing that I do to avoid having to scrub is to squeegee the walls & tub after I shower so there's less moisture to encourage mildew. It has really helped.
posted by jzb at 11:33 AM on January 24, 2019

Mix of vinegar and Dawn. I keep it in a spray bottle in the shower - spray and scrub with an old toothbrush as needed. Works really well.
posted by leslies at 11:35 AM on January 24, 2019

Seconding sealant. Clean it with whatever works (baking soda paste?), let it dry -- then seal it.
posted by Dashy at 11:39 AM on January 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

I use a scrubbing brush like this one and I spend less than 5 minutes scrubbing. Usually a lot less.

I clean the shower after somebody has used it, because the steam actually helps, and I spray with a mixture of soap, vinegar and hot water. Wait a few minutes. Quick scrub, rinse, done.

I don't know how well this works on mold, however, I think the bleach pen would be better for that. What kind of grody is the issue?

(I bought a squeegee for the shower, but I never use it, because the last thing I want to do after a nice hot shower is get chilly wiping the thing down)
posted by stillnocturnal at 11:45 AM on January 24, 2019

Sealant. There’s a product that cleans and seals at the same time.
posted by bilabial at 11:46 AM on January 24, 2019

You don't say what you're scrubbing with, but I've had much better (and much less physically painful) results scrubbing my shower with a brush with a handle (Libman has several similar brushes) than with any kind of sponge.

Seconding this and suggesting going even further. I went from regular scrubby sponge, to all-purpose brush, to finally a grout brush. Every time I use my grout brush, I flash back to all the time I had previously wasted using tools not specialized to the task.
posted by mhum at 11:47 AM on January 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

(Hollow laughter)

Sealing didn't help. Bleach doesn't help. Vinegar doesn't help. Squeegeeing doesn't help. The grout brush doesn't help. I have decided that if ever I decide to completely remortar the tiles, I will just have the installer use black grout from the get-go.

(wails softly)
posted by Weftage at 1:22 PM on January 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

I used Ajax and these brushes attached to my drill. It's not perfect, but re-grouting and sealing are a few years in the future.

If you do this, use eye protection.
posted by Marky at 1:29 PM on January 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

Keep the bathroom as dry as possible. No fan? Open a window after a shower, at least leave the door open. I used to clean the grout with bleach cleanser and a toothbrush, but it takes a lot of time. Now I use scrubbing bubbles, so I'm going to environment heel, but it works. I also clean the shower after a shower, when the crud is softened up.
posted by theora55 at 1:55 PM on January 24, 2019

I solved my grout problem as follows:
1. Mix baking soda and bleach into a paste.
2. Apply paste to grout
3. Cover paste with cling wrap
4. Leave for about 12-16 hours. Inspect occasionally during this period to ensure paste is still moist. If not, spray paste with more bleach.
5. Remove cling wrap and wash away bleach paste
6. Repeat steps 1-5 as necessary
7. Mix solution of 1 part vinegar, 1 part isopropyl alcohol, teaspoon of dishwashing detergent, 4 parts water, and some peppermint essential oil (this should get rid of chemical smell) in a spray bottle. Spray down your shower thoroughly after every use. This is the crucial maintenance step. If you skip this you will have to eventually repeat steps 1-5, which is not sustainable as bleach degrades your grout.

I scrub very rarely since I instituted the regime. Maybe a light scrub once a month in problem areas.

Note that bleach is caustic and can screw up your lungs. Wear gloves and try to keep your shower area well ventilated as you do steps 1-5. You can replace the maintenance spray with a off the shelf post-shower spray, I just don't like keeping multiple cleaning products around, plus diy is cheaper.
posted by sid at 1:58 PM on January 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

You should do a regular cleaning with a brush and your usual cleaning liquid (I use Zepp) before doing the bleach treatment. The bleach will clean black nasty persistent mold and such but won't necessarily kill soap scum and grime.
posted by sid at 2:21 PM on January 24, 2019

tea tree oil also helps gets rid of mildew
posted by brujita at 6:41 PM on January 24, 2019

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