does steam cleaning damage grout

Does Steam Cleaning Damage Grout?

Steam mops can assist you in scrubbing even the toughest grime and spots from your tiles. An excellent steam mop can blast dirt off tile floors and even reach tile grout to clean and sanitize. This will help your tiles and grout last longer and reduce the spread of bacteria.

Steam cleaning is an effective method of cleaning sealed grout. The combination of hot pressurized steam and a gentle scrub with a bristle brush will have your grout looking new in no time. 

Furthermore, tiny particle of dirt, sand and other debris can dull and wear down grout. The cleaner you can keep your floor, the longer the grout and tile will last. You can use a steamer on most types of tile flooring, including porcelain tile floors, ceramic tile floors, marble, terrazzo and any tile surface.

Does Steam Cleaning Damage Grout?

As I mentioned above, cleaning grout lines by hand requires a brush and a great deal of scrubbing. It can be hard work. Because of the high-temperature levels steam cleaners produce, many property owners wonder whether steam cleaning can harm grout?

As long as your grout is intact and has been previously sealed, steam cleaning will not damage your grout. 

After steaming and restoring the grout to its initial color, resealing it with a premium grout sealant is the very best way to maintain and keep it looking fresh.

How Well Does Steam Clean Grout?

Steam cleaners clean grout incredibly well. It is thought about the best method to clean and bring back grout to its initial color. Since steam cleaners have nozzles that directly blast hot steam onto the grout, it gets rid of any grime from the grout pores that you can just wipe away with warm water.

Most steam cleaners have attachments designed explicitly for grout cleaning. These are ultra-reliable when cleaning grout, especially brass bristle brushes. 

Most steam cleaners include:

  • Nylon bristle brushes.
  • A brass brush (sometimes two if you’re lucky).
  • Sometimes a stainless steel brush.

These can make fast work removing dirt and grime without much effort from you. Extra brushes can usually be purchased inexpensively, and if you have a large area of grout to clean I would recommend buying extra brushes upfront.

Please remember that some tiles may scratch with stainless steel or brass brushes. If you think your tiles may be susceptible to scratching, please work gently using a nylon bristle brush first. Find a corner or an inconspicuous area and test gently before going crazy scrubbing the middle of your floor.

Why Does Grout Get Dirty?

Grout draws in dirt quickly because it is permeable. It soaks up spills and dirt, so it stains quickly. Additionally, grout sits slightly lower than the tiled surface. Tiny dirt particles pool in the grout as you walk on the flooring. This builds up over time, and gradually your grout changes color.

Grout is made of a mortar paste for filling crevices, especially the gaps between wall or floor tiles. Upon installation, they are utilized to support the tile. Because it includes sand, it absorbs all sorts of dirt and debris including soap residue, minerals, mold, and general gunk. While tiles are smooth and straightforward to clean, grout draws in dirt quickly.

Over time, it becomes more challenging to eliminate dirt from grout with routine cleaning. You can try some harsh chemicals like bleach and some serious scrubbing on your hands and knees, but it is exhausting, smelly, and not always effective. 

This is where your steam cleaner comes in. Using pressurized steam, you can effectively clean grout and restore your tiled floors to look as good as new.

When a Steam Cleaner May Damage Grout

Generally, a steam mopping and cleaning grout with steam will not damage grout. There are two likely cases where this may happen, however. They are where the grout has started to erode from previous chemical use or wear and tear over time and cracked loose or damaged grout. 

Previous Chemical Use

Severe chemicals are constantly hazardous to grout. These chemicals are the prime factor for destroying the adhesiveness of the grout. It naturally soaks down into the grout when you mop. As grout is porous, it absorbs some of the chemicals, which can, over time, loosen the cement base of the grout. 

Already Damaged Grout

Suppose your grout is mixed with an insufficient amount of mortar. In that case, it can easily crack, become loose, chip away, and fall out between the tiles. 

Cracked or loose grout that is hit with steam pressure may loosen further. Check your grout before you steam clean it to ensure there is no preexisting damage. 

If there is, you may need to remove the grout, replace it with new grout, then seal. 

Choosing a Steam Mop for Grout Cleaning

You can either choose a handheld steam cleaner, steam mop, or canister steam cleaner for cleaning your grout. If you choose a steam mop, look for one with multipurpose uses, not just for mopping the floor. A steam mop with a removable handheld steamer and accessories for cleaning grout is a great choice. 

I’ve covered this further in my review of the best grout cleaners for 2022

How to Steam Clean Grout

Steam cleaning grout is a relatively simple process. Here are the steps:

  1. Vacuum or sweep your flooring to remove any loose dirt and debris.
  2. Attach a bristle brush to the nozzle of your steam cleaner.
  3. Fill your steam cleaner with distilled water.
  4. Switch on your steam cleaner and allow it to heat up.
  5. Start steaming your grout using a forward and backward motion. 
  6. Stop and wipe away the dirty water as you complete a tile or two. Don’t allow this to pool on the grout. It will soak back in and discolor your grout again.
  7. If you are steaming wall tiles, start from the top of the wall and work your way down. Gravity will cause the water to run down the wall. Keep an old towel at the base of your wall to absorb the runoff of water.

Keep in mind, grout is porous and will take in dirt quickly. Maintenance and regular cleaning is the secret! Don’t let your cleaning get out of hand and it won’t be such a huge task when the time comes. Easier said than done though, right?

How Often Should Grout Be Cleaned?

It depends on how much foot traffic your floor gets and how often you need to give your grout a thorough cleaning. Sometimes when we see something every day, we don’t notice variations from the original color and this is when stubborn dirt starts to build up.

Cleaning with the change of season is always a handy way to remember when you last gave your tile floors a deep clean.

For low-traffic areas, this could be part of your annual spring clean. You may want to tackle grout cleaning every six months for high traffic areas, such as your kitchen.  

For your shower, this could be a weekly scrub and clean. It is really up to you.

Remember that grout is porous in nature. It will take on any substance it gets exposed to. This exposure can lead to mildew and discolorations, so try to steam mop any spills quickly to avoid grout staining. 

Annual sealing with a grout sealer is recommended to keep your grout from becoming too porous and keep it looking clean and fresh. 

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