Ceramic & porcelain tiles are highly resistant to staining, discoloration, & degradation. Grout, on the other hand, is quite susceptible to these types of destruction! By following these quick & easy tips, you too can turn your beautiful new grout into a grimy, blackened mess. So fun!
In case it isn't clear, we are being completely facetious. Please do not follow any of the aforementioned "tips," as they will quite literally ruin your grout!
Step 1: Avoid Grout Sealer
Unless otherwise specified, your grout is cementitious, meaning that it is made of a mixture of cement, sand, & pigment. Cementitious grout is porous due to microscopic pits & holes, called pores, in its composition, and its porosity makes it subject to staining & discoloration over time. Sealing your grout protects it from this type of damage & keeps it looking newer for longer. So if you want your grout to reach it's full potential for nastiness, your best bet is to avoid sealing it altogether.
Did your installer use pre-sealed grout? Don't feel left out. Your grout can become disgusting, too; it will just take a bit longer to see results. Fortunately, you can reverse the protective effects of sealer faster by following the tips below.
Step 2: Bleach Your Grout Regularly
If you have a little patience, you will see big gains in the nastiness of your grout lines through regular bleach applications. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Bleach? Won't that actually clean my grout?" And the truth is, yes, bleach will literally bleach surface level mold & mildew, making grout lines initially appear cleaner to the naked eye. However, bleach does not effectively kill mold on porous surfaces, where the mold spores have plenty of places to hide out. And because it was never really killed or removed, regrowth is a snap. So fear not, you'll be moldy again in no time.
The real reason bleaching your grout leads to filth & decay has less to do with mold & mildew and everything to do with damage to the grout itself. Cementitious grout is sensitive to the chemicals in bleach, which weaken the composition of the cement and cause it to become brittle. With regular bleaching, even the freshest grout lines will begin to show signs of degradation, including cracks, discoloration, & crumbling. Your friends will be horrified!
Step 3: Scrub Aggressively
Ironically, it is not uncommon for folks to take a sturdy plastic brush (or even a wire brush!) & go to town on their grout in hopes of cleaning it. Vigorous scrubbing with rough brushes is overkill for cleaning, but if you want your grout to look truly gruesome, you'll love the results. Such an abrasive technique removes more than just dirt; it removes the grout itself! At the grout starts to crumble out, you will see more & more cracks, pits, & holes. These make perfectly hospitable habitats in which dirt will congregate, soap scum will accumulate, & mold will thrive. So grab your roughest brush & put in some elbow grease!
Step 4: Use Acidic Chemicals
Remember how we said grout was sensitive to chemicals? Bleach isn't the only thing strong enough to do the job! If you are serious about causing irreversible damage to your grout, eating it away with acid is a no-brainer. In fact, you don't even need to leave the cleaning aisle to do this, since many cleaners on the market today are highly acidic. However, some of these acidic cleaning products can be quite expensive. There is no need pay top dollar for fancy products; plenty of inexpensive home remedies, like lemon juice and vinegar, are strong enough to cause significant damage, too. Regardless of the format, acids work by stripping your grout of sealer & degrading its composition over time, making it more susceptible to staining & more likely to crack. It'll be ruined before you know it!
Step 5: Never Squeegee Your Shower Walls
This last tip is super simple & oh-so easy: Just skip the squeegee! Squeegees are primarily used to direct excess water from your walls & flooring toward the drain, where it promptly flows away. But the more time your tile & grout spend wet, the more time mold & mildew have to flourish. This sustained moisture is key to cultivating filth. Porous grout lines in particular benefit tremendously from staying damp around the clock. They'll be black & crawling in no time!
Grout is constantly evolving & improving. Grout manufacturers are in constant competition with one another to make their grouts more durable, longer lasting, & easier to clean. For the people that prefer their grout pristine, these innovations are a good thing, but it's getting harder & harder to achieve that coveted haunted house grout aesthetic. It certainly takes longer to get there than it did a few decades ago!
Fortunately, by following these tips, you can work to undo the technological advancements of grout manufacturers. Even in if you live in a brand new house, with some dedication, you too can vie for the prestigious honor of Nastiest Grout in Town. We wish you luck!
Do you have questions about how to clean your grout? Let us know in the comments below!