When cleaning your home, it's important to keep both your health and the environment in mind. If you're exploring alternatives to chemicals, one location that's easy to clean using natural solutions is grout. Natural cleaning expert Becky Rapinchuk of Clean Mama says natural methods work on grout better than conventional ones since chemicals can leave you with soap scum.
"Some conventional grout and tile cleaners are really caustic and full of chemicals and harmful things that we don't need to be breathing in," says Rapinchuk. "It's also not good to wash it down the drain either in terms of the ecosystem because you don't need that going back into wastewater."
There are a number of homemade solutions to consider, which we outline below. The one you choose depends on the space you're working in and also the type of cleaning — removing mildew, whitening, degreasing — that needs to be done.
For most stains: Baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soap
Arguably the most common homemade grout cleaner, a mixture of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soap works best for kitchen and shower tile since the paste is easy to rinse out.
"The baking soda is going to give you a little bit more scrubbing power," Rapinchuk says. If your grout is in need of whitening, you can even just spray hydrogen peroxide alone on the area and let it sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing.
To yield the cleanest results, form a paste out of the the baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soap. This will serve as a cleaner, degreaser, and whitener all in one. Measurements vary depending on how much cleaning the room needs, but it's best to use two parts baking soda to one part hydrogen peroxide and a teaspoon of dish soap or more as needed.
For milder stains: Castile soap
According to Rapinchuk, if your shower grout is only moderately dirty, Castile soap is a simple solution to scrub and rinse. "It's plant-based so it's not going to give you any soap scum," she says.
For targeted whitening: Cream of tartar and lemon juice
Lemon juice is a natural whitener and when paired with cream of tartar it reacts "really well for whitening," Rapinchuk says.
To try on a small spot, she recommends mixing a tablespoon of cream of tartar with just a "squirt of lemon juice." If you decide to use it on your entire floor, she says to go tablespoon by tablespoon. The consistency you're looking for should be like a runny toothpaste.
For heavier dirt: A dedicated steam cleaner
For large, high-traffic rooms like the kitchen, Rapinchuk suggests using a steam cleaner. This can work in concentrated areas and help you avoid excessive scrubbing. She uses a multi-purpose Dupray steam cleaner, which boasts a floor cleaning pad and spray nozzle meant for harder-to-reach areas.
Steer clear of harsh cleaners
The one false grout hack people mistakenly use is toilet bowl cleaner. According to Rapinchuk, the chemicals are way too harsh and can permanently damage your tile.
When cleaning grout, avoid using vinegar. The substance can corrode your grout and eventually damage it as a result of its porous nature. If you're looking for something acidic, Rapinchuk recommends using the lemon juice mixture.
Homemade cleaning solutions are the most effective grout cleansers. Not only is it affordable and eco-friendly, but this natural option is also healthier since you'll be breathing things in as you scrub on your hands and knees.
While these DIY remedies can be used in any space, it's important to weigh your options so you don't extend the process if you're only looking for a light clean. "You're probably going to work in small areas and scrub and rinse as you go," Rapinchuk says. "But it's definitely easier to do a paste in an area that you can completely rinse."Antonia DeBianchiAntonia is a lifestyle and food writer from South Florida. She received a journalism degree from Boston University and loves everything about city living. Aside from contributing to INSIDER, Antonia writes for the TODAY Show, Apartment Therapy, Food52, and Bustle. When not writing, you'll find her in the kitchen aspiring to reach Barefoot Contessa status, walking on the beach, or watching rom-com marathons. Read moreRead less