The best way to clean shower grout – from someone who has tried everything

Water alone can be enough to clean your shower grout if you use the right tools

A large shower in a converted attic with beige herringbone tiles
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Freshening up grout is easily one of the worst cleaning tasks in any home – and it can seem almost impossible without scrubbing for hours and ending up with sore arms.

I have tried several ways of cleaning grout in the past, from cleaning with vinegar to cleaning with The Pink Stuff, but they all caused my arm to fall off, metaphorically speaking, and be aching for a good day afterward. 

That was until I realized how good a job I could do when cleaning a shower with just water and steam cleaner – and I have never gone back.

The best way to clean shower grout 

I had to buy the best steam cleaner when I needed to deep clean my carpets but didn't want to shell out for a single-use carpet shampooer for my rented home and decided to give the grout brush a go on my shower tiles. The results were undeniable and I only needed one ingredient – water.

Here's how I got the best results.

Blue bathroom with pale zeillge tiles

(Image credit: Alex Zarour)

1. Clear the area

Working in such a small space, I found it easier to remove all my shower bottles and shower storage from the space first. This was going to be a hot and humid job, so it also helped to prop the shower door open and open the bathroom window to help excess condensation escape so as not to cause mold in my bathroom. 

I used the steam mop function of my cleaner first to steam the shower basin to disinfect and pick up any lingering hairs, and allow it to cool and dry before stepping in to do the tiles.

Steamers are also praised for being able to clean glass shower doors, but I give this a miss as I prefer to use The Pink Stuff, available at Target, for getting rid of built-up soap scum.

2. Prepare the steam cleaner

My steam cleaner, the Black & Decker 7-in-1, available at Amazon, has a removable reservoir that makes it easier to fill and move around my space as I clean. The grout brush makes it quicker to scrub the nooks and crannies too.

When picking a cleaner, try to opt for a softer bristled attachment, as brass bristles or stiff bristles could wear away the grout.

As for the water, I have soft water naturally in my home so I use it straight out of the tap. If you live in an area with hard water, however, it is best to use distilled water to make sure you are not leaving limescale behind on your grout, or risk limescale blockages in your machine.

Black+Decker 7-in-1 Steam-Mop | $199.99 at Amazon

Black+Decker 7-in-1 Steam-Mop | $199.99 at Amazon
Rated H&G's favorite steam cleaner, I love this for cleaning everything in my home, from tiles and grout to soft furnishings and carpets. There is nothing it can't do.

3. Begin at the top

When steam cleaning, water will drip down the wall, often carrying dirt with it. A good cleaning tip is to use a step with rubber feet to prevent slipping to start at the top of the shower wall and work downwards to prevent dirty water from muddying any pre-cleaned areas.

This method requires very little harsh scrubbing, but I do have to work the brush back and forth a little over the grout lines to help loosen any stubborn marks. I also use the brush on my shower tiles, as they are sturdy enough to remove grime without marking them, but you may want to test this on an inconspicuous area first to make sure you don't damage them.

If you are concerned about damage to your tiles, consider using a standard shower cleaner on your tiles or using a microfiber shifter attachment on your steamer to disinfect them.

4. Repeat as needed

Once I have made my way down to the bottom, I allow the area to dry naturally and give myself a break. Afterward, I can check to see if there is any remaining discoloration and go back over the areas as needed.

FAQs

Is bleach bad for tile grout?

Bleach can wear down tile grout, wearing out the material and color, so it is best avoided if you want your grout to stay looking its best. If you need to deep clean your grout and don't have a steam cleaner, you can change out bleach for white vinegar and baking soda for a similar whitening effect without the damaging effects of bleach.

What is the easiest way to whiten grout?

If you want to refresh your white grout, a steam cleaner can help lift stubborn stains and renew its color. If you do not have a steam cleaner, then a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda is a good alternative. Simply mix them together into a thick paste and apply with a clean toothbrush and leave to sit before scrubbing and rinsing away.  


While I leave my grout cleaning regime there, you can follow up this deep clean with a grout sealant to protect your grout from further damage and discoloration. This additional step can help to keep dirt out to reduce how often you need to clean. Just be sure to pick the right sealant for your grout type to help prevent damage.  

Chiana Dickson
Writer

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.