Asked on Sep 11, 2015

How to clean black grout?

by E
I have an old black tiled floor in my foyer. I hate it, but its quite a large area to replace at this time ($$) so I just want to clean the grout, which I try to with vinegar and water, but it still looks brown instead of black. Any suggestions on how to clean it?
  18 answers
  • Dee Dee on Sep 11, 2015
    Buy some Mapei Grout Renew. It comes in many color. You can even change the color if you desire. I have used it on bathroom floors and have not had any problems. It is time consuming but comes out beautiful.
  • on Sep 11, 2015
    We wrote a post about a homeowner who also used black grout on a black tile floor. She scrubs the grout once a month with a gentle cleaner and scrub brush. You can learn more here:
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Sep 11, 2015
    Try a natural cleaner like baking soda mixed with water to make a paste or even toothpaste.
  • Pollio Pollio on Sep 12, 2015
    I poured some hydrogen peroxide side on the ceramic tiled flour where pets had urinated to sanitize it and much to my surprise it bleached the grout which was white already but dirty .I had read that nurses in Drs. offices used hydrogen peroxide instead of bleach to sanitize work areas. It works for me as bleach gives me an instant headache. Pollio in Okla
  • Z Z on Sep 12, 2015
    Since you've already cleaned it, I would suggest you paint it to give it the color you'd hoped for. HoDe carries a product that's highly rated and comes in charcoal, which I think would work well with your (I think) pretty tiles.
  • Jenn Smith Jenn Smith on Sep 12, 2015
    I have white grout and have tried every home remedy there is. Here is a cheap solution that I've found actually works. Get a grout brush. They'e like $2. Buy some scrubbing bubbles foaming bathroom cleaner. Spray it on the grout and let it sit until it's no longer foamy. Get a small bucket of water, dip the grout brush in it and scrub where the bathroom cleaner is. Dry with a towel when done. It's a ton of work, but the cheapest solution I've come across.
  • E E on Sep 13, 2015
    Great suggestions, thanks I will try them out.
  • Carole Carole on Sep 15, 2015
    Hello, I have black tiles on the walls of my showern however modern style and I had chosen myself to have a black and whie bathroom. This is what I did, given my startiing point is a bit easier, as I from start used black tainted grout. Howver it had become destroyed and bleached from sanitizing (even with vinegar). I bought really cheap eye-makeup (fatty) products on a cheap market (really not to use on our eyes) and drew up the grout. Great result, but in the end somewhat more expensive than I'd thought and aa lengthy process, so I went bolder: after a thorough cleaning and last sanitizin of the grout (by the way making it more receptive) I mixed black shoepolish with a little olive oil (some drops directly on the polish in the metal box before applying a clean cloth) and, wearing a throw-it-away glove I always have have plenties of before I have dogs, I started happily applying to the grout, The result is great: it protects the grout from further deterioration due to sanitizing and/or hard water. It gives a kind of embellishment like when you treat wood. The only thing you need to wathc out for is your tiles are ceramic, mine are natural stone and having some of this "paste" on my tiles does them good (protects them from hard water) but will make yours slippery, even more of a problem as they are on the floor. However if you use a paintbrush, you'll have o problem. P.S. The shoepolish is of the type that has wax or silicone in it, NOT the liquid type. If for some reason you want to melt and add the olive oil and have a kind of easier type applying it with a paintbrush, remember, these types of shoepolishes are inflammable, DO NOT HEAT where there is open fire and if you do heat up slowly and NOT BEYOND nody temperature to be safe. That's why I did not bother heating and just dropped the olive oil onto the wax.
  • Johnchip Johnchip on Sep 15, 2015
    clorox and a steel type scouring pad. Let the clorox sit a while, then it needs little elbow grease. But.. seal it afterwards with a clear coat acrylic product using small artist paint brush. I did it and only have to wipe clean now. It only took a half day to do the entire 2 rooms of floors!
  • E E on Sep 16, 2015
    Hi again, I have scrub that grout, still not turning back to black?? UGH. Carole will the shoe polish wipe off, this is on my foyer floor? I have called a few tile store to find if they had any solutions, but they don't?? UGH again.
  • Carole Carole on Sep 17, 2015
    Hi E, I re-read myself, I made so many typos, embarrassing. Nice to know you could decode me. The shoepolish does NOT wipe off at all from the grout, for sure. I know this, because next to my black tiles (I designed my shower with 60x30cm BLACK tiles / black grout in two rows in the middle and plain WHITE 15x15 cm tiles/ white grout in one row on each side, which makes a modern and airy composition) I have white tiles and for the white tiles I had the finish made with white grout. The ide was to enhance black and white. Well, when I made operation Grout-Glamour with the eye-pencil, no problem, since i was just drawing inside the grout-line, however a very lengthy process that in the end costed more than I wanted. But when I switched to the faster and cheaper shoepolish method, I did have some problems in the sense that some of my shoepolish-oliveoil mixture on the cloth (and only because I used a cloth to go faster) started to kind of run away or spill over (get absorbed I think by kind of inflitration) to the horizontal white lines of the white grout bordering the vertical black lines and as I was working. The white grout was made of a product of lesser quality, was destroyed (yet beautifully white) bby my many and freuent sanitations and simply was totally open to inflitrating shoepolish. It ended up looking like mould (on the white grout). AND NOTHING, NOTHING could remove it. So what I'd say, is: once absorbed the igment in the product it gets "chemically bound" (by the fat in the shoepolish or eye-pencil) and it stays there. The idea is: grout chaulky, grout is porous, it becomes even more so when sanitized as most sanitizers are either acid (vinegar type oe citric acid or etc...) bleach having the same action, destroying the structure of chaulk. When grout is sanitized (cleansed and desinfected) OK you have sanitized it but scrubbing and applying the sanitizer you also made it open to more dirt or.......whatever you then apply. So the idea (eye-pencil methd or shoepolish) is to turn this around and have it soaked up with PIGMENT+FAT as the fat will PROTECT from absorbing hard water and soap or dirt residues. In old times, when the wood paints were made of milky basis or beer or chaulkpaint, they ended up applying (what we today call topcoat ) a coat of wax for the same reason, inside or outside wood. I was doing the same as you: rubbing and scrubbing and using harder and harder sanitizer chemicals against hard water thinking the greyish grout and vanished color was due to a top-layer of residue. In fact the result was it was getting worse. This is why the method here is first a last sanitizing that on one hand will satisfy you knowing the grout was totally clean when you initiated this, then simply OVERFEEDING the grout with pigment (that it lost) and FAT to protect. The pigment+fat mixture also has the great advantage you are not exposed to pigment. Below is why: With the color black it is best not to try do pigment first then some other topcoat. The color black is finely powdered charcoal. I am mixing my own chaulk paints, and once I wanted to tone down a bright red with a little charcoal black. I had a little misshappening where I mixed it and dropped some of the black pigment, very little, like a small half spoonfull. I just cannot describe the mess and unhappiness collecting it and cleaning aferwards, a never ending story using I don't know how much tissue and old t-shirts and each time I thought I was over, there was more coming up from the floor or whatever. However, this is why the eye-pencil or shoepolish method is great, the pigment is TOTALLY trapped in FAT. Once applied and absorbed by the grout (the grout is much, much more receptive than your shoes for the polish or your eyes for the make-up) you cannot remove it again. The only thing I see to watch out for is, on your tiles, as they are ceramic and since this is a floor, be careful NOT to have oliveoil/shoepolish leftovers since these might turn slippery especially for a women's shoes heel. However this is easy, it's just a matter of polishing the tiles -when everything is over- with some nailpolish remover for instance, even acetone free will be great, (keep away from grout, now that you have it black and well and beautiful) it will thoroughly remove fat from your ceramic tiles and secure your floor. P.S. The shoepolish penetrates and get absorbed so well, that as menioned the mixture that stained my white grout in spite of my efforts not to spill over was not to be removed. To address this, I used (hahaha) a WHITE fingernail pencil -for French manicure- to get the "perfect" corners and intriguing very black+ very white pattern I wanted. ( more makeup in the purse) Write if I can help more....
  • Dee Dee on Sep 17, 2015
    It was so much easier to take a toothbrush and apply grout renew. I used it in 2 bathrooms to change the color of the grout. Look it up on Amazon. One bottle is all you need. It has lasted over 3 years with no touch ups.
  • E E on Sep 17, 2015
    Carole, thanks for the detailed information. Now I just have to find the time to do it. I will update with a picture when its done.
    • Carole Carole on Sep 18, 2015
      Hello E, my pleasure, don't worry about processing time, you can pick up a little time here and then, it's a quick fix and you don't need to do it all in one batch, just be sure to apply shoepolish or eye-pencil when the grout is REALLY DRY(= better absorbance and penetration since fatty mixtures cannot adhere/penetrate moist material) since here you want the pigment to get in depth into the grout for better duration just in case you want to sanitize before you initiate process. Because here you want the grout to absorb a max of what you then apply. Also if you split the work do still clean the edges with nailpolish remover. I'll try a pic as well to show you, everybody who sees my shower gets stunned.
  • Jenny Campbell Jenny Campbell on Sep 21, 2015
    2 cups of oxy clean in 2 gallons of hot water, mop on floor leave sitting for 20 minutes mop up use a scrub brush if needed. You may want to put another coat of sealer on grout to protect it or not
  • Sue c. Sue c. on Sep 24, 2015
    I would bet an enormous amount that the grout is not discolored. It is supposed to be brownish gray. I had a tile installer "explain" to me how that color would make my cleanup easier because " you won't notice the dirt as much." I never bought from him but I've seen lots of tile done that way. Jenny Campbell has the right idea-wash well and seal. It can be a lovely look if the tile is obviously clean and shines.
  • AngelMine AngelMine on Sep 25, 2015
    Dirt Devil steam cleaner. $40 about. Works! Just uses HOT steam. Wish I could do a link for you but you can just Google it. Best investment ever made.
  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Dec 09, 2021

    Hi, If you fancy a complete change, Paint the grout. Maybe a bright colour - Orange etc. for a new look!

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Dec 21, 2021

    Try using a permanent Marker Pen.