Home Cleaning Tips Non-Toxic Solutions for Cleaning Your Grout and Tile

Non-Toxic Solutions for Cleaning Your Grout and Tile

by Catherine

When our shower grout begins to show the telltale darkness and discoloration of mold and mildew, I almost can’t function until I clean it. In the past, I would spray it with Tilex or use a bleach pen, and then watch as the grout turned miraculously lighter and back to its normal color. Unfortunately, no matter how many times I performed this task, it always seemed to come back. Why? Wasn’t I killing the mold with the bleach? Shouldn’t that keep it away for more than a week or two?

The answer is no—bleach is not the answer, because it doesn’t eradicate the problem. Bleach actually does not penetrate porous surfaces, like grout. It just kills the top layer of mold/mildew, so the roots of the mold may still be there, and will return, sometimes, very quickly.

First, let’s address the obvious: Your bathroom and your shower or tub, in particular, is a perfect environment for mold. It is warm, airless (unless you keep the fan on), and damp—this equals mold, unless you maintain some established practices that will make your life easier.

  • One of the first things that I’ve started doing daily (or trying to do daily—let’s be honest here) is squeegeeing the walls, floor, and glass doors of my shower after I use it. This quickly sweeps away excess moisture, and doesn’t give it time to drip and sit in crevices and corners to foster mold growth.

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  • Turn on the bathroom fan before starting your daily shower and allow it to run for at least 30 minutes after you finish your shower. Just because your mirror is no longer fogged up doesn’t mean that you have cleared all of the moisture from the air. It can linger for hours, so leaving that fan on with definitely help.
  • I spray the EC3 Mold Solution Spray on my tile and grout between cleanings to keep mold away. There are no harmful fumes and I can allow it to air dry without worrying about rinsing it off before I get into the shower next. It’s also great for the tub, because it will not irritate skin if residual amounts are left on your surface.
EC3 Mold Spray comes in a easy-to-use spray bottle, and doesn't require wiping or scrubbing post application. Just spray and allow to air dry.

EC3 Mold Spray comes in a easy-to-use spray bottle, and doesn’t require wiping or scrubbing post application. Just spray and allow to air dry.

Now, for how I tackle that mold. I’m going to give you two methods here, because the one I prefer and swear by requires the use of a handheld steamer. I realize not everyone has a steamer, so that is why I’m including another more general method too. A quick side note, though: If you are allergic to mold or have someone in your home that is, I highly highly recommend purchasing a steamer. Steamers are excellent tools, because they can heat the all-natural additives that I use to a temperature that increases their mold-killing capacity. When the steam comes out, the mold-killing solution is aerosolized and can take the mold count on the surface you are cleaning down to zero almost instantly. The handheld steamer I swear by for this type of focused job is the Smart Living Steam Jr.

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This handheld’s temperature is the hottest steam on the market at 230 degrees Fahrenheit—and if one thing can kill mold, its immense, focused, pressurized heat. (Note about this steamer and all steamers in general: The manufacturer does not recommend using any additives, so the warranty may be compromised by doing so. I have tested the specific additives that I outline in my instructions numerous times with wonderful results that DO NOT damage my steamer. Also, because of all of the science and testing behind the EC3 products, we know that the specific ingredients in the Mold Solution Concentrate react positively with immense heat. EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate also uses distilled water in its formulation, which is the only manufacturer-approved additive for the steamer.)

Steam-Cleaning Method for Grout and Tile:

Tools:

  • Handheld steamer, preferably with a pointed attachment, and for more severe stains, with a brush attachment.
  • Distilled water (DO NOT USE TAP WATER—Tap water has many minerals that can negatively affect the machine, similar to coffeemaker scaling.)
  • EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate or Pure Lemon or Tangerine Oil (Note: Make certain you are using 100% pure essential oil. The only ingredient on the list should be lemon or tangerine oil. Any additives may burn when heated inside the steamer.)

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  • Measuring cup that comes with your steamer.

Preferred Method:

  • Clean your shower as you normally would with whatever product you prefer. I use a multipurpose cleaning solution that I make. Click this (MOPPING FOR MOLD WITH HOMEADE FLOOR CLEANER) if you are interested in making some of your own.

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  • Squeegee or use a towel to dry your tub or shower as best you can.
  • Depending on which you are using either measure ½ teaspoon of EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate or 3 drops of lemon or tangerine oil into the measuring cup that came with your steamer.

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  • Fill the measuring cup the rest of the way to its max fill line with distilled water.
  • Pour the mixture into your steamer, and seal it closed per product instructions.

steamer ingredients

  • Attach the nozzle attachment that will produce the narrowest, most focused spray.
  • Plug your steamer in and allow it to heat.
  • When your steamer signals that it is ready for use, point it at the grout line or area that you want cleaned and pull the trigger, so that the steam begins coming out in a steady stream. Continue moving along the grout line, until you are finished.
  • If the area is dark or discolored, perform the previous step, but use the brush attachment. As the steam comes out, scrub the area gently until it lightens.
Brush attachment
Steaming along the grout line.
Scrubbing along the grout line while steaming.
  • Follow with a clean, dry rag to wipe the area dry.

Not only will this method kill and clean the mold and mildew, it prevents its return. I have found that since I started doing this, I do not have to scrub as frequently and the grout stays cleaner longer. I advise doing this about every other time that you clean your bathroom, or once per month.

If you don’t have a steamer, the following method works well, and will lighten your grout without the use of bleach.

Regular Cleaning Method to Remove Mold from Grout and Tile:

Tools:

  • Spray bottle
  • White vinegar and distilled water, or EC3 Mold Spray
  • Scrub brush
  • baking soda or hydrogen peroxide

Method:

  • If using vinegar and water, fill spray bottle with solution of half vinegar and half water.

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  • Spray the grout with the solution and scrub gently with the brush.
  • If the stains don’t lift, either make a paste with the baking soda and a little water and spread it along the grout line, or pour/spray undiluted hydrogen peroxide along the grout line. Then, spray the paste or the peroxide with the vinegar solution, or the EC3 Spray. When it stops foaming, scrub gently with the brush until stains are removed.
A paste made of baking soda and distilled water.

A paste made of baking soda and distilled water.

Baking soda paste is spread along grout line.

Baking soda paste is spread along grout line.

Baking soda paste is sprayed with EC3 Mold Spray or vinegar/water mixture.

Baking soda paste is sprayed with EC3 Mold Spray or vinegar/water mixture.

Baking soda will foam and react with the spray, killing mold/mildew and bringing grout back to its original color.

Baking soda will foam and react with the spray, killing mold/mildew and bringing grout back to its original color.

This method will also not only kill the mold naturally, but will remove any stains very effectively.

What are your tried and true methods for cleaning grout? Do any of them keep the mold from coming back?

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