Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dirty Little Secret


I have a dirty little secret….   I’ve always thought of myself as a very clean person and a good housekeeper. Heck, I don’t even own a mop- I wash floors on my hands and knees!   Does anybody else even do that anymore? So after wondering why the grout between the kitchen tiles kept getting darker and darker, I finally realized the problem- the installer didn’t seal the grout! Translation- Dirty Grout Lines!!!   


discolored grout

Now, while this may not look dirty to you, the grout was originally a medium colored brown against a variegated light brown/gold porcelain tile. It is now dark brown like what’s shown in this picture, which is in the area around the food prep area  and the island. Other areas throughout the rooms aren’t quite as bad.


old color

The only places the grout is the original color are the areas that have never gotten any wear- the pantries, the linen closet, and under the hutch. The lighting is different in this photo vs. the one above, but this is an example of the original color of the grout. It’s not a true color, since it is showing  up a little lighter than its original color, but I think you get the idea- it is clean!

I did an internet search to see how to clean the grout, and after much reading, I decided that the easiest and most economical way to do it was to use a steam cleaner.  So yesterday I began the work.   I stayed at it for an hour before taking my first break.  I quickly found out that this was not going to be an easy job! And certainly not as fun as a decorating project, that’s for sure.



It will be a bear of a job and will take me forever, I just know it! Each and every one of the grout lines surrounding approximately 600  square feet of tile in the kitchen, bath, hall, and laundry room will have to be steamed and then scrubbed with a brush.  Now you know why  my knees and wrist are sore today.



My hand-held  Shark steamer holds about two cups of water. That’s give me enough steam to clean a 4x5 area two times. I began by steaming the grout around each row then started scrubbing it with the brush. I finished by wiping it all down with a clear water rinse.  Then I repeated the entire process one more time. I was really surprised at what I was missing in the first pass, so I’m hoping the two-step process will be good enough. We’ll have to wait and see if I’m satisfied once I’m done. Knowing my OCD, I may steam it a third time!


knee pads

I’m wearing a set of knee pads to help cushion these joints of mine that have been abused by years and years of high impact aerobics. Even still, I have to get up and stretch.  Contrary to how I perceive myself, I guess I am not a spring chicken any longer!  You can see that the grout is looking lighter in this photo.  And yikes- it looks like I have thunder thighs here!  I blame the camera angle, cuz they really aren’t THIS big. 



grout line

Here’s the difference between a clean and a dirty grout line in an area that isn’t too dirty.  The vertical grout line on the left is clean, while the one on the right hasn’t been done yet.  The clean grout looks amazingly as clean as the unworn grout in the pantries. I tackled the worst spots yesterday- the ones around the sink and the island.

So, even though I’m only about 1/4 of the way into the job, it’s very satisfying to know that I’m erasing a few year’s worth of grime. And you know that when I get the floor completely done, I’ll be applying a grout sealer on it so I’ll never have to scrub like this again!  It’s my understanding that the floor should be re-sealed every year.  At about $48 a gallon, that’s a very small price to pay in order to avoid the aggravation I’m going through right now!  And that gallon should last me a while, too!


Well, I’m off to start  working on it again. I just spent two hours with the Pella window salesman and found out how much 32 replacement windows are going to cost us.  I have a bit of sticker shock right now! The only saving grace is that we can save 30% off the quoted price if we contract with them before Feb. 1.  Can you say very loudly, “Revamp the budget, Sue!”


I guess this qualifies as a before and after, even though it is kinda lame!  Visit Kim to see some real “decorating” boring to better projects!



Twice as Nice said...

Oh, you poor thing. I feel your pain. I am just like you, I would have to get it cleaned. Especially once you get started and see the difference. Thank goodness for those knee pads. You will have muscles aching you didn't even know you had! HA! Good luck with your windows. Wouldn't ya rather buy furniture or a pretty? But ya gotta keep warm.

A Hint of Home said...

Oh Sue,
I don't envy you right now. That is so hard being down on your knees scrubbing.
I hope so soreness goes away quickly.
The people who didn't seal it should be the ones to clean it. But we know that ain't happening.
Take care!

Jo said...

Oh no what aggravation! I once had the tile that looked like marble -cut out veins -it was sooo in back in the 70's It was gold I had to get on my hands and knees and scrub and scrub The whole house was tiled I vowed never never to do that again!

Carol said...

Your grout came out great! Cool machine, has to make the job a little easier? Good idea to get it sealed!

farmlady said...

Ok! here goes... "REVAMP THE BUDGET< SUE!!" Those Pella windows are some of the most expensive windows out there. You might check into some other brands that wouldn't break the bank.
As for the floor. You have a job there. The steam cleaner seems like a good choice. Keep up the fine work. Elbow grease is always the answer when the job is tough. The alternative is to let the grout just go dark. But your OCD won't let that happen... I can tell.
Love the "knee pad" photo. That angle always makes the legs look huge. We're OK with it. LOL!

Pat said...

The grout in our tile is dark normally. Not easy to see if it is clean or dirty. A good steam cleaning would be great.

I need to get one of those sharks. But I wonder if we could rent one of the big steamers. Or better yet, get someone to come in, because I am definitely not a Spring Chickie.

By the way, I have thunder thighs from any camera angle.;-)

Lou Cinda @ Tattered Hydrangeas said...

Wow! It is going to look brand new, but I don't know if my poor body could take it! Can you find like a MONSTEROUS steam cleaner!! lol


Lou Cinda

Suzanne@Meridian Road said...

What a pain! I'm sorry you have to do all that!

Designs on 47th Street said...

Oh mercy!! What a job you are in the midst of. We did something similar to our entry tile before we put it on the market. It was a big job but Mr. Brown Socks was a huge help!

Good for you, Mrs. Clean! :)


⚜ ↁℯℬℬᴵℰ⚜ said...

Been there done that. I never used a steam cleaner though...I used good ole fashioned vinegar and water, and hands and knees with a tooth was an awful job..but it worked.! Good luck...beautiful tile though.

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Oh my! My knees and back are screaming just reading this post! Looks like your hard work and the steam cleaner is doing the job. Keep the ibuprofen bottle handy for first thing in the morning, and a bottle of wine handy for this evening. :-D
1 to 2 ins. snow expected tonight. :(

Sharing with Sherri said...

Oh Cinderella Sue... your steaming cleaning job looks great and boy can I feel your pain! I struggle with the grout on my kitchen counters too! Can't wait to have solid surface tops someday and NO more grout to deal with!

Don't work too hard okay!
Hugs, Sherri;)

Kathleen said...

Oh brother, that does NOT look like fun!
I have to wear the knee pads too, otherwise I am in pain!!

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

Hmmm...we are supposed to reseal it every year? Oops! We bought our house when it was 5 years old. The grout was darker than any we had had in prior homes, but we assumed it was supposed to be. You have me wondering now.

Crystal Rose Cottage said...

Oh my gosh Sue....I am still cracking up at that view of your kneepads! Well, a moment of levity is in order after working so hard, right? Now you have me thinking about my ceramic tile on my bathroom floor.....could it be dirt or just it's regular color? Hmmm..I will have to check into this! Don't work too hard!~xoxo, Patti

Susan said...

I remember as a young bride moving into my first house , it was rented. It had white tile or linoleum with deep groves. I thought the grooves were naturally black. My mother came in and said Susan when are you going to get that kitchen floor cleaned. I told her I cleaned it this morning. She laughed and said well you forgot the dirt in the cracks.....

Miss Char said...

Those knee pads are a real fashion statement Sue. I'm not sure I'd be able to get up without assistance with a job like this. Your floor is looking great and hopefully this is a one time deal for you.

My daughter has a Shark steamer and uses it all the time, I guess I may have to look into one for myself.

Oh and windows....we had an estimate on Pella for the last 13 that hadn't already been replaced, I'm still getting the vapors over the price. I backed off for right now because the budget just smirked at me when I went back to try and adjust it.

Pam said...

My knees are hurting just picturing you doing this. Glad you got the knee pads. It really makes a big difference though.

CalypsoInTheCountry said...

I just started cleaning my grout again the other day...not fun. Last time I used baking soda mixed with water and a toothbrush. This time I am using Mrs. Meyer's All Purpose cleaner and a tooth brush and it seems to be working fine. I am also going to order the grout sealer from since it supposedly doesn't give off fumes. With kids in the house, I always worry about that! Good luck!


The Inspired Nest said...

I clean my floors on my knees & hands too! My grout is so gross and steam cleaning doesn't help??? I will be painting my grout very soon! Best of luck and I hope your soreness wears off soon!

Shari @ My Cottage of Bliss said...

Bless your heart! What a tedious, boring, back (and knee) breaking job. :( This is exactly why I hate tile...I hate cleaning grout. It does seem like the steamer is quite helpful though and I know you will feel a great sense of relief and accomplishment when it's all clean and sparkly. :)

Sue said...

I know exactly what you mean ~ when we moved in our grout was exactly the same! I thought we were going to have to regrout the whole floor. I took the easy way though and had the carpet cleaners clean it. My husband sealed it then, but that was 2 years ago. I guess I know what's going on his honey do list!!

La said...

Be sure to soak your tired joints when you are done. La

Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

Sue, the cleaning job worked great. Looks like new grout to me. I need one of those sharks. I took a picture of me in my paint pants looking down like that and my legs looked huge, too. I need your knee pads. I am going to have to get some. thanks for linking this week.

Jo said...

Not a fun job but it sure looks fabulous! This is one of my most dreaded tasks. Perhaps I need to hire the help of a shark.

Your new header is beautiful ~ love all the photos.


Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Such a thankless job! But I'll bet it looks great! I made sure mine was sealed! I can't imagine scrubbing it! I hope you took a break, or two!


Rettabug said...

Oh Honey...I feel your pain! Ugh...what a job! I would have hired someone to do it, for sure.

Thank goodness my hubby knew to seal our grout lines when we first moved in. I suppose it needs to be redone after 5 years. I'll have to check into that. Thanks for the nudge...I think.

Don't hurt yourself, ya' hear? This could be wicked on the back!

Penny @ The Comforts of Home/Lavender Hill Studio said...

That definitely does not look like fun!

Roxanna said...

I had new porcelain tiles installed March 2010. The tiles were laid & the grout added. However, when the grout dried I absolutely hated the grout color. It had a gray tone to it & my tiles were a beige color. Not my vision at all. I was so disappointed that my beautiful floors looked terrible with this grout color. I didn't know what to do & the installer suggested "Grout Stain". After researching it on the computer, off to the tile store I went in pursuit of stain. After talking with the store owner I found out that grout stain is used "alot" & I was convinced this was the answer to my problem. We matched my tile with the color he suggested, which was C Cure "Tumbleweed". I waited for a week to ensure the grout was completely dry & I took a small artist brush & I painted the grout with the stain. Now the good thing about this stain is it also has a sealant in it. Nothing has penetrated this grout, not water, not juice, not coffee, not even spilled grease, it just beads up & wipes clean. It has been 10 months now & the grout has not stained. My flooring turned out beautiful & my vision was fulfilled.

Now, another daughter's young boy's bathroom around the toilet was dark. Well, need I say why, lol. Anyway, I purchased sealant remover & removed all the sealant from the grout. I then cleaned it very well with vinegar & water & let it completely dry for a few days (bathroom was off limits to the boy's). I used left over stain from my project & painted her bathroom grout. No more dark stains. So ladies, that was the answer to our grout problems.


Uptown Antiques said...

Oh my!! My knees are aching just from reading. :-) I also clean my kitchen floor on my hands and knees and bought a mop for the first time yesterday! I decided to try some Mop & Glo between scrubbings, so I needed a mop.

All you OCD kitchen cleaners can come to my house anytime to spruce things up a bit!!

Honey at 2805 said...

I feel your pain! And that thumbnail picture really drags you in. Have a good day!

Erin@likegrandmas said...

Wow Sue, I can't believe what a difference that makes! You are doing a great job, make sure you do something nice for your body when all is said and done!

Sara's Sweet Surprise said...

Hello Sue~I've the same dilemma.
I've tried a multitude of industrial no avail. Actually steam cleaning was on my list to try.
I also purchased grout markers, which worked great for recoloring the grout lines. That's more of a step two. They still need to be cleaned.
I'm gonna give the steamer a try.

Sweet Wishes,

Susie from Bienvenue said...

My floors get so yuk too. I need one of those steam cleaners like yours. In the past I have just got on my knees and used clorox. Thanks for sharing :)

Lori E said...

Just ignore it and call it patina not dirt.

Linda@Coastal Charm said...

Oh Sue,
This does not look like FUN at all:(


xinex said...

Wow! Steaming really does clean, I am impressed! I shoudl use mine more often. I love your tiles!...Christine

Mary said...

What a chore! Do you plan to seal the grout once it all is done?. This is my first visit here and I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed browsing through your blog. I'll definitely be back. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

Hi...and thanks so much for your comment! Yes, I do understand and I honestly don't take it too personally when I lose a follower and...and like you, I have dropped from a few blogs, but very few. Mostly it was because blogger told me I was limited..and besides..I could not in a million years visit all that I saved. I just don't want to lose them in the shuffle because I DO like them. Some have also stopped blogging or disappeared months at a time.
About my could be mine. No doubt about it.
:) The coloring and all that..but then we are Irish
with the last name of Duffy..Grandparents from We certainly could be related somewhere along the way. Could be the Irish peeking through also!

Just had tile floor put in and rushed off to see if there is a beginning build up..but so far was all sealed.
I didn't know it should be done again though, so I learned something here! Your work is paying off. It's looking good!!
(yep, since you look like my daughter I definitely have a close enough relationship to send you one of my hugs! :)

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

p.s. ...and I do my floor on my hands and knees and do not own a mop. :) I definitely think we are related!!

podso said...

We have very similar tile and similar dirty grout. I guess we didn't seal it very well, or it has worn off. hubby got a brush and chemicals for the job but steam sounds healthier. Either way it's not an easy job. We got an estimate of 400 dollars to clean the grout and reseal. So we thought we'd do it ourselves. Thanks for you input! Glad I stopped by!

Edie Marie's Attic said...

OMG Sue!! What a job! You get the award for grout cleaning girl!! I must say it's looking fabulous and CLEAN but how are your knees & back holding out? My hubby does floors on his hands & knees too so you're not alone Sue.

Stay warm and watch those icy patches!! Hugs, Sherry

PS glad you like my island curtain. I traced several different images I found to create the one you see. You can see a photo copied image though muslin, just trace!! I had fun!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Sue my knees ache just thinking about what you are doing! I admire your determination. I have cermaic tiles in my kitchen but they were laid in cement with very narrow spaces between, so they have always been grey in color and don't show wear and tear. I did make sure to have my lighter bathroom tiles sealed, however, when they were installed. Now I'm really glad I did!
Be careful not to hurt yourself!

♥ Pat

Sue said...

Hi are a better person then I am....I would have gotten a huge area rug...or had the flooring man who didn't grout come out and get down on his hands and knees....I have to admit that I do clean my bathroom floors on my hands and knees...but they are both smaller then a small closet..Sue.

Susie Q said...

Oh wow. I didn't have mine sealed...guess I should have huh? : ) That will be a job for Spring me thinks. I love Sue's comment above...that area rug sounds good. *laugh* My knees would be forever ruined if I did what you are doing! Oh wait. Thay are already ruined!! I guess that's why I can't even think about it! Bill does get on his not quite as bad as mine but almost knees to wash the floor...
I have the perfect idea! I just take off my glasses and everything looks clean and nice!! Perfect!!