Does Steam Cleaning Damage Grout?

Bryan Katiewick
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Insufficient Amount of Grout

Steam cleaning can damage grout if it is unable to dry properly. If there is insufficient grout recoat, the product will dry, causing the grout to harden and crack. This creates a weakened structure that may be prone to breaking.

To avoid this, ensure that there are instructions for cleaning and drying on the company's website. You should also be able to find information about the amount of grout recoat.The amount of recoat required is dependent on the type of tile and grout, but, typically, 8-10 hours of drying time is sufficient for most tile and grout.

Once you are satisfied that you are using the correct amount of grout recoat, it might help to keep humidity levels low. Leaving the windows open helps to keep the relative humidity in your house low. Low humidity, should help to keep the steam from causing the grout to dry too quickly.

If you are cleaning a marble or limestone tile, it may also help to keep a humidifier running while you are cleaning and drying the grout.

Unnecessary Saturation

You may have heard the advice to steam clean floors and grout, but is it really necessary? Steam cleaning is not an effective way to clean grout. Steam cleaning is great for carpets, hardwood floors, and surfaces, but do not saturate grout with steam.

According to Dr. Michelle from the carpet and floor company, FloorSolutions, “steam cleaning is designed to penetrate the carpet fibers that way steam can loosen the grime trapped within the carpet. Steam cleaning does not penetrate the tile grout that well. In fact, the steam can crumble the grout when you use steam cleaning if you are not careful. Instead, it's best to use a microfiber mop and cleaner designed specifically for grout.”

Steam cleaning has been around for decades. It is a steam cleaning system that uses special equipment that has been on the market since the early 1900s. It is more than likely that your grandmother steam cleaned the carpet in her home and is one reason you remember the smell so well. If you live in the southern United States, you may have also remembered the wrinkle-free cocktail dresses your grandmother had after they were steam cleaned.

Unsealed Grout

Older unsealed grout requires very gentle cleaning so you prevent it from eroding into the grout lines. The best way to clean grout that has crayon on it from color pencils or chalk is to moisten a soft cloth with plain water and then squeeze it out until the cloth is barely moist.

If you need to clean your tiles or stone. Invest in a steam cleaner that will work on shiny floors. If you haven't sealed your grout yet, wait until you have before you clean it with a steam cleaner.

A steam cleaner heats the grout and can loosen or loosen it to the point where it loses its glue-like qualities and can even erode. Steam cleaning will be fine for sealed grout, but take care that you avoid the corners of the tile where the grout lines are.

If you have a tile grout and you want to keep it that way, then, purchase a cleaner that is made for that or you can go with what you use on your shiny floors. Remove the excess water by blotting it up with a towel.

For steam-cleaning, you may want to purchase a lightweight and portable steam cleaner so that you won’t be wrestling the machine all around the bathroom.

It Gets Cracked

Let’s face it. Grout gets dirty. Even the cleanest homes can be affected by dirt, debris, mold, dust, and so on. That’s why steam cleaning is a design solution of the modern age. It’s a great way to sanitize and clean, and therefore is a common practice for steam cleaning tile and grout. However, steam cleaning can cause issues for your grout.

When done properly, steam cleaning is a thorough, sanitary process. However, if it’s not done right, then you could see damage to your tile. Steam cleaners can leave too-hot water on grout lines and cause them to crack. Many times, this damage is difficult to see without inspecting the grout up close and in person.

The best way to keep this from happening is to choose the right cleaning method. Make sure you talk to a professional and ask them about issues related to steam cleaning before you commit to the process. This way, you’ll know how your floor was cleaned, damaged, and how to prevent it in the future.

Holes Start to Appear

The thinset mortar used for grout joints is a combination of cement, sand, and water. As it dries, it starts to shrink and separate, leaving tiny cracks that eventually form larger ones. Steam cleaning is very good at removing dirt and germs, but it can also be very powerful and destructive to tile. So, what causes the hole in the grout? The use of steam to clean grout after it is dry will shrink the grout, causing it to crack or break. By using steam on grout in this state, you create hairline cracks in the grout, which trap dirt, germs, and moisture below the surface. The following are two reasons steam cleaning grout damages tiles.

High Temperature

As we mentioned above, steam cleaning can bring the temperature inside your hot water tank as high as 195 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause an unpleasant chemical reaction with the grout.

Wet Grout

The grout should be damp, not wet when steam cleaning. If it’s too wet, steam cleaning could have the same effect as using a pressure washer with in a confined space against the tile surface. It’s recommended to wait until the grout has dried. If you’re not in a rush, just use a wet mop for a stain remover.

Mold and Mildew

Steam cleaning with a grout cleaner, such as Tilex, will remove surface residues on the grout like mold and mildew. To remove porous stains like these, as well as any stains you may have in your grout like tea, coffee, wine and smoke this can only be removed by scrubbing and scrubbing and more scrubbing. This is why a GOOD cleaning routine is key if you want to maintain the look of your grout for a long time.

Make sure you clean hard surface areas and the grout between them at least once a week and hopefully more often than that.

You'll be amazed at how long you can keep the cleaning maintenance down to just a few times a month. You will have to scrub the grout cleaning times more frequently at first but keeping the grout clean longer means less scrubbing and less needed cleaning. (There are two ways to clean grout between tiles: you can use a grout sponge or a grout cleaning brush)

If you scrub often enough the grout will block the hard surface dirt from getting into the grout in the first place. (If you're having a hard time washing hard surface dirt out of your grout the best option for getting the grout super clean is to get a grout cleaner with bleach in it and use it deep into the grout)

Verdict

Is: Yes, But It’s A Good Thing!

Housework, especially cleaning, often isn’t a fun activity, but it’s definitely worth doing. When it comes to cleaning it’s not always, how much is done, but how well it’s done.

When you start with a bad surface, steam cleaning is a great way to go.

So how does steam cleaning damage grout? Good question.

Some steam cleaners can cause your grout to smolder when the steam cleaning release makes contact with the grout. This smoldering can cause stains and discoloration on the grout. If this happens, you’ll notice that the steam cleaner will leave a burned spot on the grout.

The other side of it is, the smoldering grout will break down, and the grout will be easier to clean than if you had not done any steaming. The grout will be thrown off during the pro-cleaning process, and you’ll have to do a less detailed wipe down afterwards. This is a good thing, it means that you have not destroyed your grout.

If this worries you, consider hand scrubbing the grout and steam cleaning the rest.

Dupray Neat

Dupray Neat steam cleaners have a sales slogan of "The Steam That Cleans Without A Stain." So if you are shopping for a steam cleaner, you will want to look at features, steam temperature, warranty, attachments, and price.

Dupray Neat steam cleaners can clean your carpet, tile, grout, upholstery, and most household surfaces. Heavy-duty steam cleaners are best for cleaning all of these surfaces as well as tile grout and carpet.

To clean grout, instead of using a commercial tile shampoo, steam cleaners can be used to make your tile grout sparkling clean. Once you have cleaned all of the grout, you can use a commercial tile and grout shampoo to disinfect and remove any streaks or smudges.

If you want your stove top and hood vents cleaned with a steam cleaner, you will need to use a heavy duty steam cleaner like the Dupray Savoy 554. This steam cleaner includes a stainless steel steam wand that heats pressurized water to over 300 degrees to clean your hood and cooktop surfaces.

Your Dupray Neat Steam cleaner can remove grease, crayon, graffiti, soap scum, and pet stains from fabric upholstery. Feed stains on your upholstery can be removed with your household steam cleaner.

Ease of use

The Tilex is also easy on the eyes. It has a sleek, lightweight appearance and a clean, white design. It's only produced in white, but that's because it works with any design. A pulsating steam control delivers concentrated steam. It also has a steam control trigger, an 8-foot power cord and two attachments. The Tilex Tiles has a built-in storage space for accessories, which makes it easy for you to store it away and have easy access later. Overall, this is a feature-rich steam cleaner that doesn't cost a fortune.

Instructions

Steam cleaners are a great way to clean all the nooks and crannies in your house. So with that in mind, I wanted to see if they would be a good way to clean the grout in

My shower. After all, I thought, the grout is already sealed and the steam should not get anywhere past the seal.

To test this, I simply took a regular steam mop and attached one of those mop heads that has a round sponge in it. I wanted to make sure I could get the steam out to the edges of the grout.

Using my little steam cleaner, you can really see how the steam penetrates the grout and sort of wets it. You can even see how the steam slowly evaporates and leaves behind some of the gunk that was in the grout.

Any guesses on how this test would turn out?

A steam cleaning solution that was specifically designed to clean grout can be a great way to keep your tile looking good and it effectively removes stains and mold.

Performance

Of Steam in Removing Odors vs. Grout

While both steam and bleach are effective at cleaning and killing germs, they work very differently. Steam is able to target a specific area … and there is a reason for this. That reason is chemistry. Chlorine bleach generates bi-products that will burn your skin and tissue and are likely to be destructive to your living environment. In contrast, steam does not produce such damaging materials when used correctly.

So why does steam clean? Steam performs by lightly boiling the surface of your carpet or upholstery (or whatever you are cleaning). When the surface gets hot, it loosens the dirt “bond” and allows you to rinse or wipe it away. As you think about this method of cleaning, it actually makes sense … dirt and germs are killed by heat, but steam doesn't get hot enough (per say) to actually damage your carpet or upholstery. In contrast, bleach and other toxic chemicals typically rely on the "burning" of your carpet or upholstery's existing finish to kill germs.

Design

The most important thing is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. There are a lot of products on the market and each manufacturer has different recommendations.

Use care when using steam. Steam presents a safety risk, since it can cause burns easily. Some reports from consumers indicate that certain brands of steam cleaners may not be as hot as they claim to be, and this can be a problem when it comes to cleaning grout, as they may not be hot enough to eliminate the bacteria or mold.

Remember that the grout is porous and fragile, and it may already be damaged or weakened. With the steam cleaner’s pressure you run the risk of breaking up and further damaging the grout.

If possible try to use a brush first, to clean the dirt and loose debris. The brush will keep the grout from splashing, especially on the wall. You can use a towel or paper towel to wipe the excess water off the wall. Be sure that you have a dry towel, or something to dry the walls with immediately after, as this will prevent water damage.

Quality

Yes, steam cleaning can damage your grout. Steam clean carefully and with consideration to the condition of the grout's surface. Also, know that the grout may require a little more elbow grease to clean.

Make sure that you’re using a steam cleaner that has been tested for use on grout. Steam cleaners, which you find in most home stores, are designed for home use and are safe on grout.

With any grout cleaning method, it’s important to know that the effectiveness of the method depends on the quality of the cleaning and the amount of time spent on the task. A steam cleaner, used carefully and judiciously, can do a good job of removing the surface stains in your grout. You’ll still need to work some elbow grease in the long term, however, to remove persistent dirt in the grout that isn’t easily removed. But you won’t have to worry about damaging the grout.

Many people choose to use a grout cleaning product, available in your local home store, after steam cleaning to remove remaining dirt. This is an optional step, and one you may choose to skip as well depending on the condition of your grout.

Pros

If you try cleaning your grout with a vacuum or chemicals, you will find that it is a very difficult, time consuming process. Steam cleaners are the best options as they will kill bacteria, sanitize, and remove stain at the same time.

When treating tile grout, steam cleaners leave a cleaner residue that does not attract as much dust as traditional cleaning. Cleaner residue makes steam cleaning a more expensive laundry alternative. Steam cleaning does not make your clothes dirty. However, it is important to know that steam cleaning damages clothes, furniture, wood, countertops, and other household items.

Depending on the type of cleaning chemical you use, it can damage the grout and make it harder to clean in the future. If you use a steam vacuum, then it will not damage you tile grout. Just make sure not to use the steam on the grout, as it might cause some damage.

Cons

You may have heard of professional steam cleaning, or steam mopping, which uses a machine with a heating element, a tank of water, and a vacuum to pull the dirt away. This kind of machine is capable of removing stains that can’t be treated by other methods.

One word of caution: steam cleaning should always be done with the ceramic tile sealed properly. If it’s not sealed properly using silicone or grout sealant, this method could damage the grout permanently. Instead, consult a professional familiar with your particular floor covering.

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Is…

You can steam clean grout, but first you will need to wet the grout. Once the steam is on and the grout becomes wet, the cleaning will be effective.

You can also use a solution of hot water, ammonia and bleach for fast cleaning when you're in a hurry. Spray the solution onto the areas you wish to clean and leave it for around one hour. As long as you have done your homework and correctly identified the grout, then the cleaning will be effective. Some tiles, however, are made out of glass-ceramic, so you need to be careful when using steam.

It is recommended that you attack problem areas with bleach. The bleach solution will loosen the dirt, and you can wipe it away with a wet sponge. You should then clean the area with fresh water and apply grout sealer. You should do this at the first signs of grout damage to keep the problem from developing.

You can also restore your grout using a grout removal kit. A grout removal kit contains chemicals which you can use to clean the area. These kits are highly effective and will restore your grout to its initial state.

Some people use a grout haze remover to clean the grout. You will need to scrub the area to get the best results with this product. If the area is severely unclean, then you should try to find grout cleaner in stores.