Dear TMH: Cleaning Grout, and Other Intermittent Cleaning Tasks

In this edition of Dear TMH I test a recommended way to clean tile grout, and cover some of the other cleaning tasks I forget to do, but should be doing more regularly. Want me to test out a recipe or a cleaning tactic you’ve heard about? I’ll do that, too. Just e-mail, or post a note in the comments.

Lydia writes:

How do you clean grout and caulk? I recently got an ad in the mail for a professional grout cleaning service. I don’t know how much it would cost or what products they use.  My husband tried using some powerful chemicals and it was overkill – ate away the grout.

I took a look at my bathroom floor, and the grout was pretty filthy. I hadn’t cleaned it in the three-plus years since my wife and I have lived in our apartment. There are lots of specific grout-cleaning products, but I went looking for something that was more widely available, and more gentle on the grout.

I found an incredibly detailed answer to your question published in the Washington Post. The short answer? Use an oxygen bleach-based cleaning product, like OxiClean.

I made an extra-strength dose of the cleaning solution (two scoops of OxiClean for 1 quart of water), applied it with a toothbrush, waited for 30 minutes, and then scrubbed like crazy when I returned.

The OxiClean clearly worked. If you are cleaning tiles on the wall, make sure to apply enough cleaner to the grout so it soaks in. After you’re done, get a grout sealer from your local hardware store and paint it on.

Laura writes:

I had some spare time on a Sunday and decided to go a little above and beyond my routine cleaning and thought to clean my toilet scrub brush and its holder. It had never occurred to me to clean this before, so shamefully it has been about 3 years (since I received it as a wedding gift) and was accordingly disgusting.  Is this something that everyone else does regularly?  I gave my plunger a good bleaching while I was at it.

That got me thinking about other parts of my apartment that are likely disgusting that I never think to clean (the buzzer for the door which has fingers on it 10 times a day, for instance).  My question for you: What other sorts of things need a once-over every so often but are often forgotten?

You’re in good company, Laura. I haven’t cleaned my toilet brush holder, either. One tip so the holder doesn’t get so gross next time: Make sure the brush has drained completely – bang it against the side of the toilet for good measure – before you put it away. That way there will be less water for the brush to stew in.

To answer your question: I always wipe down the refrigerator handle when I remember, and cleaning light switches is a good idea, too. I almost never clean the bathroom fan vent, and it gets clogged with dust surprisingly quickly. The last time I cleaned my indoor garbage bin it was terrifyingly dirty. The trays that hold our cutlery love to accumulate dust, dirt and stray crumbs. I just looked now, and they could really use a good cleaning. The last time I wiped them down was certainly more than a year ago.

That should give you enough cleaning projects for this coming weekend!

  • Lydia

    Thanks for answering my question about cleaning the tile grout! I’m  glad to know about OxiClean.


    Superb Answers! I like the Lydia’s Q’s Answer most.


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