Discolored Grout in Tile

By HomeAdvisor

Updated October 28, 2016


Few home improvement projects transform the appearance of your kitchens and baths quicker than cleaning discolored grout. Usually a good scrubbing is all you’ll need to do to eliminate grout discoloring, though you may also need to remove and replace cracked and damaged areas, depending on the current state of the grout in your kitchen or bath.

Fight Grout Discoloring from Day One

Of course, the easiest method of grout cleaning starts the day your tile is installed. If you are diligent about cleaning your tile floors and other surfaces, and are meticulous about wiping out the grout as often as you clean your tile, it’s going to be a long time before you see any discolored grout in the first place. Most grout discoloring is caused by oil, food and dirt particles that are left in the grout, then ground into the surface over time. If they never get a chance to get set in the first place, you’ll be admiring your shining, clean grout for years before you need to take action. On the flip side, it’s easy to let grout cleaning slide, and often problems build up without us noticing until it’s too late. In these cases, it’s time to set aside an afternoon (or a weekend, depending on the extent of your problem) to send that discolored grout packing.

Grout Cleaning 101

Discolored grout is stubborn stuff, so be ready to get your hands dirty. For basic grout cleaning, your best bet is to find a strong degreaser and a stiff nylon brush (many people recommend toothbrushes for this dirty work). Apply the degreaser, let it sit, and then get to work scrubbing with brush. Most stains, oils, food particles, mold, and mildew, will be removed by this simple process. You can also use bleach-based cleaners, vinegar, and baking soda solutions, if you prefer something with a less chemical make-up, though none are as proven as a good degreaser. Never use oil-based soaps to clean grout, even for regular cleanings, since the wax in them will build up and stain the grout over time. If you simply can’t get the grout clean, you can use a steam cleaner to help. The steam brings stains up out of the grout, where they can then be easily wiped away.

Ready to start your grout cleaning?
Find Pros

Grout Cleaning 201

If the above standard cleaning procedures don’t take care of your discolored grout, you’re in for a bigger job. Also, there will inevitably be places where your grout has cracked or chipped, and that need to be repaired and replaced. In either case, you’ll need to buy a special grout removing tool, pull out the old, and lay in the new. It can be a meticulous job. In fact, many homeowners choose to hire grout cleaning and repair specialists to tackle their discolored grout for just this reason. But, it can certainly be done by a persistent and patient homeowner, and the results of re-grouting are amazing. Once you’re finished, those dingy, old tile floors will look brand-spanking new.

Whether you decide to do it yourself or hire a professional, conquering grout discoloring is one of the easiest ways to drastically improve the looks of your tile floors, countertops, backsplashes and walls.


  1. Dante Miller, April 5:

    Hello, this was very interesting to read but I am confused about whether grout gets sealed with tiles as well? I was looking into doing my kitchen but I read on another website that marble, for example, should be sealed every year or semi-annually. Here’s the link if you’d like to see for yourself.


  2. Joey, April 8:

    If the tiles are scratched, can they be sanded and resealed ?

  3. Christopher J., May 7:

    Joey, I would call a professional to see if they can take care of that. And Dante, you should seal everything. It is a liquid that you apply and spread on the whole surface, grout or not. And as for the frequency of application, try doing at least once a year to prolong the life of marble.

    – CJ

Are You Familiar With This Topic? Share Your Experience.

Compare quotes from local pros Compare Quotes
Return to Top