Cleaning Stained Grout
LESLIE: Beth in Michigan has a unique problem. Tell us what happened to your grout.
BETH: I spilled nail polish. (chuckling)
TOM: Oh, no. Well, was it a good color?
BETH: No, it wasn’t. (laughing)
LESLIE: Did you get it uniformly in the grout or just in one area?
BETH: It is just in one area and it has sparkles in it. (laughter)
TOM: Oh, boy. (laughing) So that bathroom’s got a whole new look now, doesn’t it?
BETH: Yes, it does.
TOM: Alright. Well, now I suppose that you probably put some nail polish remover on there or tried to mop it up?
BETH: Yes, I did. I tried the nail polish remover.
TOM: It didn’t work so well, did it?
BETH: No, it did not.
TOM: Yeah, because the grout is very absorbent. Unfortunately, Beth, what you’re going to need to do is to remove the grout. There is a little tool called a grout saw which is sort of like a grinder for grout. And it’s a hand tool and you can use it to sort of scrape out the grout because it is fairly soft.
TOM: And once you get the grout out, then you’re going to have to re-grout it. And grouting is really not that difficult to do. It’s something that you can do with very few tools. And it’s going to look good. But unfortunately, you’re probably going to have to do the whole surface because if you try to just re-grout …
LESLIE: It’s never going to match color wise.
TOM: Right, exactly.
TOM: So the thing to do here is to get the grout soft, strip out all the old grout and then simply re-grout it.
LESLIE: But it’s a good time because then that gives you a chance to use a grout that has an antimicrobial in it, so you’re not going to grow any mold or mildew on your grout. And it also gives you an opportunity to seal the grout so you’re not going to have any trouble with stains in the future. Just remember, get a rubber float; put it on at a 45-degree angle. Once you really get it in to all those crevices, go back across it with a 90-degree angle; get rid of all that excess grout. And just keep on top of it. Let it set for about a half hour to an hour and then keep wiping it away with a sponge and clean water and get that cloudiness away.
TOM: Yeah, whenever you re-grout a tile surface, you find that you put on a lot of grout and you spend the next hour just pulling it off. You only need a really tiny amount but, like Leslie said, you let it set. It kind of does the job for you because it’s going to get really hard right at the bottom of the crevice and the top soft stuff will come right off.
BETH: OK. Now is there a sealer that you recommend me use?
TOM: There – a silicone sealer is what you would want to put on top of that. Or what you could also do, Beth, is use an epoxy grout. The epoxy grouts are harder to put on but they don’t require any sealing and they’re not – and they’re not absorbent like the concrete grouts are or like the sand grouts are.
TOM: Alright, Beth? Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: So Tom, I just had a major Trading Spaces grouting debacle.
TOM: You did? What happened?
LESLIE: I was doing this like specialized, mosaic tile, starburst art thing for a room.
LESLIE: And I had them send me special silver grout …
LESLIE: … and, like an idiot, did not pay attention to the grout-to-water ratio …
LESLIE: … and ended up putting it in like – you know, those 10 pound bags really only go in – what ? -like a quart of water?
LESLIE: And I probably had like, you know, half of a five-gallon bucket filled. (laughter) And we just like (sound effect), mix, mix, mix, mix.
TOM: So you just slopped it in there?
LESLIE: And I was like, “Aw, no. No!”
TOM: Aw, man.
LESLIE: So then I had to sort of mix in a different color. It was a big pain in the butt. In the end, I had enough grout in this bucket to do like all of Providence, Rhode Island.
TOM: Moral of the story, read the directions before you tackle that grout project.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Even if you know what you’re doing.
TOM: Do as we say; not as we do. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.