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Bring floors and walls back to their original beauty with a good scrub and a protective coating on the grout.
Use this checklist when you go to the store and purchase your items.
Clean the entire floor as you normally would and remove any loose dirt and dust. If your grout has an old, worn coating of grout sealer that still causes water to bead up, use a flooring finish stripper to remove it from the surface. Rinse the floor with clean water and allow it to dry.
Apply a commercial grout cleaner according to the manufacturer’s directions and start scrubbing with a nylon-bristle brush or old toothbrush. Work in small areas and thoroughly rinse the cleaner from the floor with water before moving on to a new section.
To check your progress, compare the sections you’ve cleaned with grout in low-traffic or protected areas. Stains often come from different sources, so not all stains respond to one particular cleaner. If you’ve tried one method that didn’t quite work, switch to another, such as scrubbing with full-strength white vinegar. Let the vinegar solution penetrate the grout for about 15 minutes, then rinse with plenty of cold water to neutralize the vinegar acid.
When the grout comes clean to your satisfaction, rinse the floor once again with buckets of clean water to remove or neutralize any cleaner you missed.
If you rush the cleaning stage of this project — who wouldn’t want to do that? — and start sealing the grout, you may turn a fixable problem into a permanent one. In addition to sealing the grout, you’ll also seal in the stains.
The trick to applying sealer is to cover only the grout. So use the widest applicator or brush that spans the grout without getting sealer on the surrounding tile. When your tile is thoroughly dry after cleaning, test the sealer on a few lines of grout in a partially hidden area until you get the hang of applying it.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions and plan your work to avoid walking on the grout sealer before it dries. Be generous. Apply as much sealer as the grout will absorb, but don’t allow it to collect on the surface. Once the first application dries, add a second coat as needed.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions and avoid foot traffic for several hours while the sealer cures. After the last application dries, test the grout by dripping water on it at different locations. You should be able to see it puddle on the surface.