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Unread 08-31-2020, 08:00 PM   #1
Steves32
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Cleaning grout

We have a lot of Saltillo color grout. Hate it but we have a house full of it. 1/2” joints. None of it is sealed & it’s showing the dirt after 9 years. How do the pros clean grout? I got 1 bid & it was thousands to clean & seal. I’ve seen some steam cleaners online & wonder if any of them are worth a damn. This house was a snowbird rental for 15 years so it was only occupied by adults 3-4 months a year until now. We are living here now & have several projects that need to be done.
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Unread 09-04-2020, 03:48 AM   #2
claycarson
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Well, you might not like this answer but...

Half inch wide grout joints don't have any really easy way to clean. Sanded grout is not much different in consistency from sidewalk cement in my semi educated opinion. Imagine and indoor sidewalk lived in for 15 years or so. How would you clean it?

Mop? Maybe, but odds are a mop and bucket approach would only get some of the soil. Lots is embedded inside pores.

Steam cleaners in Europe, with much higher electric power easily available, do work better than the USA. In the USA, our easily available power isn't really strong enough to create actual steam in an amount you'd need.

What we do is soak the floor in alkaline cleaning liquids to help dissolve the soils, scrub with a nylon brush, then wet vacuum immediately so the dislodged soil doesn't sink back down inside again. Rinse and repeat. Literally.

We use a nylon brush scrubbing machine, but you could manually scrub each grout line. After you buy or rent a good quality wetvac and go throughout the house doing each line one by one, you'll start to see the quote you were given as cheaper and cheaper.

Carpet cleaning companies use a combination spray-agitator and vacuum attachment on their expensive truck mounted systems to achieve a similar thing - agitation and removal. But they make monthly payments on that machine, so that's not within rational homeowner plans.
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Unread 09-05-2020, 09:48 AM   #3
Steves32
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Yea, I get it about the price- especially after cleaning a small area with some grout cleaning spray & a toothbrush. It basically did nothing but grind it in. I decided to call another company out & he said the problem isn’t so much dirt- it’s the grey thinset under the grout showing up through the thin application of the saltillo grout color. The top of the joints are tooled pretty low. I cant remember how they looked years ago. I’m thinking the grout is slowly wearing away. Their recommendation was 2 choices- remove all the grout & re-grout (omg) or they could use a colorant dye on the grout. They would seal grout of we re-grouted but wouldn’t if they used the color.

I saw a video on a steam cleaner which is why I asked if that’s what the pros use. The 2nd guy says most of those “steam grout cleaners” aren’t powerful enough to do anything & can cause even more grout erosion.
I’ll have to think about my choices since I’m not in love with this tile anymore.
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Unread 09-05-2020, 01:31 PM   #4
claycarson
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For future cleaning efficiency, the color sealer approach sort of solves that problem. It makes it much easier to clean the grout in the future. Reason he said not to seal it after color sealer is that it's already sealed.

From an appearance perspective, if done correctly, the look is pretty good. As long as you choose a grout color you like, or just go with the original color, it looks pretty close to brand new.

If the surface of the tile has a glaze and isn't rough and scratchy like a brick, then it is doable to color seal without too much sticking to the tile. If the tile is very physically rough or no glaze, it may not be doable.
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Unread 09-06-2020, 09:54 AM   #5
Davy
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I agree, your tiles are probably glazed. If they were unglazed then the tiles would likely be just as dirty as the grout.

I'm not in the cleaning business but I have used Krud Kutter several times on tile and grout. I let it dwell and then scrub with a brush, then vacuum it up. Sometimes, if I don't have my vac handy, I just rinse it with clean water but there's a chance for the dirty to soak back in. That might be worth a try but get a scrub brush that has a long handle, that way you can stand up while cleaning. I've bought them from Home Depot. In a large area, you'll be able to do a lot more square footage while standing using a larger brush, say 3-4 inches long.
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Unread 09-06-2020, 05:11 PM   #6
Steves32
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Tile is glazed ceramic. I’m thinking the gray thinset filled a lot of the gaps between the tiles & instead of removing it- they just grouted over it.
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Unread 09-06-2020, 07:28 PM   #7
Davy
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If you're sure the thinset is showing thru the grout then replacing the grout or staining it is probably the only ways to take care of the problem.Of course, Id be willing to bet the stain would look better and last longer if the grout was cleaned first.
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