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A Shout Out To Grout

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Jessica
02.23.12

It’s not as sexy as a chalkboard paint project or as versatile as your crescent wrench, but grout deserves a little respect as a home maintenance staple. Grout is the paste-like material that is forced in-between your tiles, and it's responsible for holding your tile patterns in place, protecting them from chipping and keeping water out. If you give grout a little love, it adds to the finished look and feel of your space.

          

Photos: Euromkii

But, if left to its own devices, grout becomes cracked and stained, which means you'll have to replace your tile sooner. Plus, its warm, damp crevices are inviting to mold and mildew. That's why it's important to clean your grout every few weeks.

Here’s how:

1) Give your grout a quick wipe with a clean moist towel to remove excess dust and dirt.

2) Mix a paste of equal parts baking soda and water. Liberally cover the grout with this homemade mixture.

3) Next, pour vinegar over your baking soda-caked grout. The mix of baking soda and vinegar will bubble up. That’s good!

4) Wait for the bubbling to die down, and then scrub the grout. We recommend using an old toothbrush.

5) Once you’ve scrubbed the grout clean, use a wet cloth to wipe away any residue left on the grout.

6) Let it dry completely. If it’s clean, great! If you still see some gunk, try repeating the cleaning process.

If your grout is already laced with mold, you’ll need a more agressive strategy to kill the mold. There are many products you can use but tea tree oil is by far the most effective natural mold killer. It’s more expensive than other options (about $10 for a 2 oz. bottle) but it's harmless to people and animals. Mix 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil with 1 cup of water and spray the affected area. The solution will kill the mold and prevent it from returning. Once the mold is gone, you can clean the area with a mild, non-abrasive cleaner.

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