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ScottyMcGeester's avatar

What's the best way to clean my bathroom tiles?

Asked by ScottyMcGeester (1897points) July 7th, 2015

Here’s a pic of a clean bathroom tile:

Now here’s a dirty one:

Here’s a clean and dirty one side-by-side:

And finally, here’s what I think is bathroom mold:

I want to learn to become a typical handyman, and I really want to clean the dirty tiles. I don’t just want to scrub off the mold or whatever’s on there, but I also want to make it look as white as the unaffected areas and also a way to prevent this from happening – if not permanently then at least from time to time.

I tried the cleaning products I have at home with little result. I need something stronger or more recent.

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10 Answers

jca's avatar

What about the Scrubbing Bubbles?

It looks like you want the grout to be clean. You can re-grout the tiles by taking a grout knife and pulling out the grout (messy and dusty job), and putting in new grout.

ScottyMcGeester's avatar

I think I tried that. I tried so many of them that the brand names are muddled in my head. I saw something on a commercial but forgot to write it down. It’s supposed to be especially for removing mold in the bathroom. But that’s about as much as I can remember. I assume it’s really new, like last year or this year, since I saw the commercial for the first time like a couple months ago.

The stuff that’s in between the tiles – is that mold or just wear-and-tear from constantly being doused in water? I’m pretty sure the dark little blobs are mold, but is the other stuff mold too?

Dutchess_III's avatar


Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I’m a former hotel employee as well as inspector for an international chain. Here’s what I can share with you.

We use(d) the terms “stain” to mean something that can be cleaned. “Discoloration” meant that it was permanent. I’ll use these terms in this post.

In the second photo, the grout appears to be stained. Most likely, it can be cleaned with with a chemical product to bring it back to a “like new” condition. Finding the right one can be challenging. Some are too strong, some are too weak, and some are just right. When it becomes this stained, it is going to take elbow grease and a scrub brush (toothbrush size works well) in order to remove it. A pressure washer is another tool that can work.

The problem with strong chemicals and power washers is that they can damage the grout and/or tile. The best way to combat it is through wiping down the tiles after use. It also depends upon the grout. Today, the types vary greatly. Most now come with a sealer mixed in. In the past, they didn’t and were more susceptible to build-up.

In the third photo, if the clean looking grout was cleaned while the other half wasn’t, then it is definitely a stain and not a discoloration.

In the fourth photo, yes, it’s mold. The grout can most likely be cleaned. The caulk is another matter. Some of the mold may come off with cleaning, but it discolors easily. It may be time to strip and re-caulk. And caulking is an art. You can most likely learn the right methods through DIY posts as well as practice.

As for a more permanent fix for the grout, there are a couple. Based upon the tile size, they are probably old (but not ancient). The grout most likely doesn’t have a sealant. Once cleaned to your satisfaction and bone dry, use a grout sealer finish on the grout. It’s a painstaking process, but can be worth the effort in the long run.

The other option is to have the tub/shower stall wall tile replaced. It will still require regular cleaning, but not nearly to the extent that older versions do. Just make sure that the tile grout has a sealer included in its mixture.

bossob's avatar

Good advice so far. I’ll add that the amount of time (usually in years) that it takes to look like yours does will be influenced by the water’s mineral content, regular re-application of grout sealer or not, and whether the walls are wiped down after each use. I’m lazy and don’t bother with the last two tasks, but they do help.

Sorry, I don’t have a cleaner to recommend. If at some point you feel like you’ve tried them all, and you still don’t like the look, re-grouting and sealing isn’t a big deal. Plus, that knowledge would be two less things to learn if you ever decide to re-tile.

jca's avatar

I can tell you I have a lot of minerals in my tap water and what works (surprisingly) miracles is vinegar and baking soda. Once the two meet, it causes a fizzing action and it’s like a miracle cleaner which does not seem to scratch.

keobooks's avatar

Second vote for vinegar and baking soda. You spray on a solution ½ vinegar and water. Then put on the baking soda. Wait until it forms a paste and the wait 15 minutes. Rinse it all off.

Lawn's avatar

I’ve had great luck with a product called Grout Refresh. I used it on a bathroom floor but not in a shower. First, I cleaned the old grout with vinegar and water, then went over the top with the Grout Refresh.

Fluther adds ”&tag=fluthercom-20” to the end of the URL when I link to Amazon, so you’ll need to remove that part of the URL.

bossob's avatar

Another idea: I’ve seen pros steam clean grout on tile floors. Try googling ‘steam cleaning tile grout’ to see if that would be a viable option for you.

bestbroseph's avatar

CLR can remove any build up, but you’d need to get the bathroom cleaner version, as the straight stuff would be too strong

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