No matter how clean your floors are, dingy grout lines can give them a tired and worn appearance. This recipe is perfect for white or light-colored grout that has gotten discolored over time. Lemon essential oil mixed with hydrogen peroxide has a similar whitening effect to bleach. Learn How to Clean & Whiten Grout Naturally, without chemicals.
When we were building our first home, we were lucky enough to get to pick out all the finishes. My husband and I visited a design center and got to select the flooring, paint colors, cabinets…you name it.
Having never owned a home before, we went with the color schemes and finishes similar to those we had seen in model homes. That meant lots of trendy greys and whites. We went with a gorgeous Carrera marble style tile in our master bathroom and selected a white grout. Bright White colored grout to be exact.
After several months, despite cleaning it, the grout had turned almost yellow. It looked awful! We had planned to seal the grout, but I wound up forgetting and sidelining the project. Sealing grout helps to waterproof the surface and keep it looking its best. Sealing also helps repel dirt, mold, and mildew. I had left the grout exposed to all sorts of build-up.
Up until now, this bathroom tile cleaner recipe was great at keeping soap buildup and dirt at bay. Suddenly, I needed something that could whiten and remove stains from our new, white grout. Something like bleach.
Bleach is not something we use in our home. In addition to bleach being harmful to the body systems, it is extremely caustic when used on grout. Natural stone can corrode and break down over time when exposed to bleach. Since the majority of our household cleaners are homemade, I needed an effective and natural bleach-alternative to use on my all white shower.
Use Natural Ingredients to Clean & Whiten Grout
Lemon essential oil is one of my favorite oils for cleaning. I love using lemon in my laundry routine to remove stains left behind on clothes. Lemon can even remove residual sticker residue, which is basically a magic trick if you ask me. Lemon contains the constituent limonene, which gives it powerful cleansing properties.
Hydrogen peroxide is a fantastic alternative to bleach. You probably already use it as an antiseptic, but it is great for cleaning too. As a teenager growing up on the California Coast, I used hydrogen peroxide and water to fake highlights in my hair. I know, I know. Not the best idea (I was a teenager after all), but it worked! You can read more about the many benefits of Hydrogen peroxide here.
Baking soda, or sodium carbonate, has been around since Egyptian times. It started to gain popularity as a cleaning agent in the 1970s. It can be found in numerous personal care products like deodorant and toothpaste. Baking soda is also used in cooking and baking as a leavening agent. Is there anything baking soda can’t do?
The best method for cleaning grout is going to depend on the color, thickness, and density of your grout.
Here are 3 different ways to whiten and brighten grout naturally (and without bleach):
Brightening Grout Scrub
This method is ideal for smaller sections of grout that may need more attention, and visible stains, mold, or mildew may be present.
- Combine 2 cups of baking soda, 1 cup hydrogen peroxide, and 20 drops lemon essential oil in a stainless steel bowl.
- Using a tile brush, add a thin layer to grout and work in sections.
- Leave the cleaner on grout lines for 15 minutes, then scrub with a walnut scrubber sponge or tile brush.
- Wipe or rinse the surface with a lint-free cloth to remove any remaining cleaner.
DIY Bleach Pen
This DIY Bleach Pen is great for cleaning linear sections of grout, without wasting much cleaner. This method is ideal for small tiles, or tiles laid close together.
- Combine 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide, and 20 drops lemon essential oil in a 4 oz squeeze bottle. Shake to combine.
- If you’ve ever used a bleach-pen, you understand the convenience here. I like using a squeeze bottle to leave a more precise layer of cleaner on the grout line.
- These squeeze bottles are made of thick HDPE plastic, so they are safe to use with essential oils. I make this recipe in small quantities, so I am not worried about the plastic breaking down. Just be sure to rinse the bottle after each use.
This method is ideal for small tiles laid close together in a pattern or areas with larger pieces of tile. The cleaner will disinfect the entire surface.
- Combine 1 cup of water, 1 cup hydrogen peroxide, and 20 drops lemon essential oil in a 16 oz glass spray bottle.
- If you are cleaning a larger area of tile and grout, add this recipe to a glass spray bottle. It is safe to store for an extended time in a glass container.
- Diluted essential oils should be kept out of direct sunlight and stored in a cool place.
Cleaning Deeper Stains
- Even the most effective cleaners still require a bit of elbow grease to get the job done. If you have some deep stains that just won’t come out, try this amazing contraption.
- This Drill Brush attaches to a standard drill and delivers a high-powered scrub with very little effort. I use it a few times a year to deep clean my tile and grout and get it looking new again. My six-year-old enjoys helping with this task, too!
More essential oil cleaning recipes you might enjoy:
Ehui Osei-Mensah says
Great idea! I’ve been looking for a way to keep my house clean without soaking it in chemicals. This grout cleaner recipe is a gem! Thanks.
Steve Summers says
Great article! I have a new tenant moving into my apartment soon and I need to do some grout cleaning in the hallway bathroom. I’ll definitely use the techniques from this article.