Keeping tiles clean is deceptively easy. Although they may sparkle and shine readily after cleaning, those pesky grimy bits in between them can still give you a lot of grief.
Those grimy bits are actually dirtied grout—the paste which keeps the tiles in place. Because grout is porous, sits at a level lower than tile, and contains sand, it attracts moisture, dirt, and debris. One of the most straightforward solutions to this is steam cleaning.
Many people wonder, due to misconceptions, does steam cleaning damage grout? It doesn’t! Not only is using steam the easiest way to clean between tiles, but it’s also the most effective. However, it also depends on what kind of chemicals you use—more on that below.
Table of Contents
- 1 Does Steam Cleaning Damage Grout?
- 2 How Does Grout Get Damaged?
- 3 Should Unclean Grout Be Replaced?
- 4 How Frequently Should I Clean Grout?
- 5 Final Words
Does Steam Cleaning Damage Grout?
Absolutely not. In fact, steam cleaning is one of the most effective methods of cleaning grout between tiles. It works by softening the mildew and dirt that has accumulated and hardened on the grout’s surface. Once softened, it’s much easier to wash away.
As you may already know, some steam cleaning methods involve the use of chemicals. Although these chemicals are meant to enhance steam’s cleaning power, they should not be used when cleaning grout due to their potentially damaging effect.
So, when using steam cleaning for tiles and grout, make sure not to use chemicals.
Investing in a steam cleaner is a great idea for purposes other than that of cleaning tiles and grout. We say “investing” because it’s no secret that steam cleaners are expensive.
But if you want your car interiors and exteriors, kitchen appliances, mirrors, showers, and windows to be spotless, a steam cleaner can help you with all that and more.
What Surfaces Can Be Cleaned With A Steam Cleaner?
Steam cleaning is the ideal maintenance option for a variety of home and office surfaces.
Other than your tiles, you can use your steam cleaner to clean vinyl, polyurethaned wood, and laminate floors. Bathroom fixtures and other metal parts can also be steam-cleaned. Depending on the model, you can also steam-clean mattresses, curtains, and upholstery.
That being said, some surfaces should not be steam-cleaned. This includes unsealed floors such as cork and hardwood, along with unglazed tile, which the steam cleaner’s moisture may damage. Cold window glass should also be avoided when using a steam cleaner as the heated steam might cause it to crack.
Choosing the Right Steam Cleaner
Steam cleaners are understandably expensive. That said, your range of options when choosing a steam cleaner is quite wide. So how do you know which is the right one for your needs? What can you afford?
Some steam cleaners or mops might take up to 3 minutes to warm up, while others can start themselves up in as little as 30 seconds. Are you willing to wait for that extra bit of time?
If not, you might have to spend a little extra on the faster model. Meanwhile, some steamers are designed for cleaning only floors, which typically means they’re not compatible with tiled surfaces.
A more important consideration is cleaning time. Some handheld steam cleaning units let you clean continuously for only up to 10 minutes, while those with larger canisters can keep going for 45 minutes.
The style of steam cleaner also affects the price. Steaming mops in the stick style mops can set you back between $35 and $55, but if you want a heavy-duty canister style, be prepared to dish out $100 or higher.
You also have the option of renting a steam cleaner instead of buying your own. This is a more viable option if you don’t have a lot of time to carry out all-over home cleaning. What’s more, if you’re renting your steamer, then check to make sure that you’re getting the right brushes for cleaning grout.
How Does Grout Get Damaged?
Once tiles have been installed on a floor, grout is used to fill the gaps between the tiles. Due to the following reasons, grout can be damaged over time.
Not Enough Grout
Probably the most common reason for damaged grout is an insufficient amount of it applied during tile installation. Due to being structurally unsound, the grout is unable to hold itself together for too long and eventually cracks.
Grout Saturated with Too Much Water
If your builder was inexperienced, chances are they added too much water while mixing the grout. Like insufficient grout, excessively saturated grout too is not strong enough to hold tiles together for too long and prone to cracking.
Grout sealant protects grout by making it resistant to water and capable of repelling germs and moisture, which also prevents mold and mildew. It also enhances the grout’s texture, consistency, appearance, and durability. So, if the grout is left unsealed, that causes problems.
Should Unclean Grout Be Replaced?
One of the most common mistakes made by those dealing with misbehaving grout is thinking of replacing it. However, not only is grout replacement expensive, it’s unnecessary in cases where damaged grout is noticed early on. So, steam-clean slight mildew and stains as soon as you see them.
Regular cleaning greatly lessens the chances of grout being damaged in the present or the future. However, if you see that grout has cracked, has holes, or shows mildew, you need to start thinking about replacing the grout.
How Frequently Should I Clean Grout?
The fact of the matter is that grout is quite susceptible to being dirty due to its porous nature and constant exposure to dirt, debris, and liquids. So how often should grout be cleaned? This is another common question in regards to tile cleaning.
Although many people recommend cleaning grout every day, we all know that’s not possible (unless you have hired help who can do it for you).
Realistically, it’s good enough to clean your tile grout weekly or biweekly (once every two weeks). You don’t necessarily have to use a steam cleaner every time; however—it’s okay to do that only once a month. For regularly scheduled cleanings, you can use a homemade cleaning mixture.
There are a few more steps to take to ensure that your grout stays clean. Mop and dry the bathroom floor every time you use it to prevent moisture accumulation. Stubborn stains can only be removed with a steam cleaner. Then, once you’re done cleaning, use a grout sealer to ensure that it stays clean.
You have two options when it comes to sealers: topical and penetrating. Each kind is suited to a different purpose.
Does steam clean damage grout? As we have seen, it does not! As long as you steer clear of unnecessary chemicals and stick to regular water vapor while steam-cleaning your tiles, you don’t have to worry about damaged grout.
Remember, the more regularly you clean it, the longer it will be able to sustain itself. Replacing grout should only be the last resort as it’s expensive and, in most cases, unnecessary. Good luck!