Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Cleaning tile floor grout (plus more new kitchen photos)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

One of the things I've learned is that every house has differences. Some things will be better (or easier); other things will be worse (or more difficult). When shopping for rental houses, I try to keep in mind the things that are truly important to me and for our family.

I did still find myself unsure about the kitchen here, though. As I mentioned, nearly everything in this kitchen is different from my previous kitchens.

Black counter tops? Joshua saw them and thought "Cool, these look fancy." I saw them and thought "How dark -- and how will I ever see the crumbs?" It's just plain WEIRD for me to actually be putting stuff out on my counters because in the past I have loved clear, clean counters but with black counters, having pretty stuff is better than a big black abyss. :) I find myself wiping them down over and over. Will I get used to the color and stop feeling for stickiness at every turn? (Maybe not, with kids in the house!)

The finished floor -- clean tile and grout!
My clean kitchen floor! Read on to find out what I used on it...

Another big difference was the kitchen floor. The floor is tile. I've never lived with tile floors. I wondered if we'd drop dishes on them and they'd break (so far, so good -- no drops yet). I wondered if my feet would freeze since I love to go barefoot (no frozen feet yet... in fact, it's been more like free a/c for my feet since it's summer). I wondered what I was supposed to use to clean the tile floors, too. And I told myself that there must be a reason tile is so popular; I'd probably like the floor just fine!

Cleaning tile grout on floors
Move-in condition... dirty floor and grout! I'm guessing most renters don't scrub grout...

So far, I neither like nor dislike the tile kitchen floor. It's way better than having carpet, but I'm pretty sure a good linoleum is easier to clean. When we moved in, it was dirty.

Initially, I cleaned the floor with Simple Green and our giant push broom. I wasn't wasting any time on this task. Something that dirty and grimy needed some serious soaking and scrubbing!

When I finished mopping up the dirty water, Ruth (5) told me "Mommy! I like this floor after all!" :)

That was a few weeks ago. What initially looked like a big improvement started to annoy me as I noticed the black grout that remained despite my vigorous scrubbing with the push broom. Time to figure out what to do next.

Cleaning tile grout on floors
Starting the task... by the time I finished, I understood why most renters don't clean grout.

From my research, it seems like the best way to clean grout is with a toothbrush. :P

Cleaning tile grout on floors
A close-up of the BIG difference before and after!

There are mixed opinions about using vinegar on grout, so I opted to use 3% hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. (I used up my peroxide on this project and bought more at Costco -- $1.99 for two 32-ounce bottles.) Pour on some peroxide, sprinkle a little baking soda, and then scrub, scrub, scrub with an old toothbrush.

Cleaning tile grout on floors
The finished floor: clean tile and clean grout!

It was labor-intensive, but it worked! A bonus was that Ruth (5) and Moshe (3) wanted to help and it really entertained them for quite some time. I let them apply "the cleaners" and I had enough old toothbrushes for them to each have one too.

The end result isn't perfect, but that's more due to the age and wear of the tile floor than lack of cleanliness.

The finished floor -- clean tile and grout!

Here you can see the finished floor. I had Yehoshua (9) and Eliyahu (7) help me move our big heavy dining room table into the living room so I could work on the floors.

As you can see, there is a tile "rug" in the dining room, which is a grout-hater's nightmare! There's a hundred little pieces and unfortunately the grout is old and chipped, as are the little tiles. (Maybe from chairs being pushed across them constantly?) I kept telling myself as I scrubbed, "This is still better than carpet in the dining room!" :)

The finished floor -- clean tile and grout!

We put the table back. This is a NEW TABLE, which I don't think I ever introduced here on this blog!

Last December, Joshua was shopping for ping pong tables on Craigslist and I said "Honey, I don't care if you get a ping pong table, but if you're going to get a ping pong table I want a bigger kitchen table!" ;)

That very same day Joshua went and picked up this solid maple table, driving over 2 hours in heavy rain to pick it up from a Craigslist ad. It's wonderful having a big table! You can see our old table in this post and this post. It was great when we had 0-3 kids. We had totally outgrown it last year though!

And just so you know, Joshua got his ping pong table in January -- a family gift to all of us from his generous parents. :D

Anyway, those of you with tile floors in your kitchens -- PLEASE give me some more tips for cleaning and maintaining and living with tile floors! I want to hear from you!! :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Alternative uses for canning tongs (Rachel at Trial and Error Home Ec)
2. How To Pit Cherries {the easy way} Katie@ Simple Foody
3. Easy Peel Farm Fresh Eggs Katie @ Simple Foody


Oh wow Tammy!! That looks like a completely different floor!!! I may have my kids do this to ours.

I am sharing two tips today:
How To Pit Cherries {the easy way} Katie@ Simple Foody

Easy Peel Farm Fresh Eggs Katie @ Simple Foody

Thanks so much for hosting.


Your kids might really have fun cleaning it! :) I know mine did. I made sure we didn't miss any spots (quality control, haha) but they were a big help and kept me going!! :)

Hi, Tammy! Our last rental had tile floors, my first experience with tile in the kitchen, too. Initially I was excited, but after a while I discovered that my klutziness does not mix well with really hard floors. ;oP I broke quite a few items. I also learned that standing at the sink to wash the dishes was not very comfortable (I also prefer going barefoot). Oh, well- that just gave me the incentive to finally make a rag rug to stand on while at the sink. I always meant to learn, but finally had a reason to bump it up to the top of my to-do list! It turned out pretty and helped quite a bit. In all fairness, I know many people who love their tile floors, and I just needed to learn to slow down and stay organized so when I pull things from cupboards other items don't get bumped out of place and fall to the ground.

I'm so glad to hear from you again! I love how you keep things in perspective and in line with the most important things in life- no matter what trends are swirling around on other blogs or the world around us. Thanks for sharing with us! I'm not going to push for lots of posts, with so many more important "demands on your time" running around the house, but it always makes my day to read a little note on your blog.

Take care!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Michelle!

We don't drop many things, but we do use Corelle and I have kids helping unload the dishwasher, set the table, clear the tables, etc. so it's bound to happen at some point. :)

I'm also maybe paranoid about breaking things on the granite counters or tile floor so I have tried to be super careful... plus, the noise! Granite counters are so noisy with dishes/glasses! :)

I have seen really cushioned chef's mats at Costco, and thought if I found the floor too hard on my feet I would try to get one of those mats. However, I don't really spend a long time washing dishes (yay, dishwasher!) OR even cooking these days and my feet can't seem to tell a difference between the tile floors here and the linoleum at our last place, so I'm doing just fine without a mat. :) One less thing to move when it's time to clean, right? :)

You are so sweet, your comment really made my day. Thank you! :)

I had floors like that in our last home and I decided I didn't like tile. I did break a few things and anything you drop shatters....also it was cold in winter.....I discovered you cannot use Swifter to clean it as the dirty water on the Swifter pad just accumulates in the grout as you mop over it. I used a spray bathroom cleaner and a toothbrush, once I got it white again it wasn't as hard the next time I cleaned it and I used a damp mop with vinegar in hot water.
Mama Bear

I'm hoping that now that it's really clean, we can just maintain it without a lot of extra work. :) We don't wear shoes in the house, and it seems most of the dirt from outside stays down stairs (the kitchen is upstairs here) anyway. :D Who KNOWS when the grout was last cleaned?! That's my hope anyway. ;)

This may not be the best way but I use bleach in my mop water to keep my grout clean and white. I haven't had any issues with my tile spotting or anything.

I have this daunting task to clean our floor grout as well and I keep putting it off. Now that you spent so much time getting your grout so clean i would highly reccommend applying a grout sealer to all the grout. It won't allow dirt and liquid to penetrate and makes mopping a breeze. I'm not sure any brands specifically to use or the cost, but I do know it helps maintain a clean floor.

I moved to California from Washington and we had installed our own tile floor in our kitchen in Washington, but we used dark gray grout. Now my home has 2/3 of it ceramic tile, but they used light beige grout. It is a frustrating thing I'd admit. In my six years here, I used mops and cleaned on my knees with a brush, which was a whole day's worth of labor as we have a 3538 square foot home. About once a year I get a couple of bottles of grout cleaner at Lowes or Home Depot. I spray it on and let it soak 5 minutes, then scrub with a brush. I am entertaining ideas of getting a Groupon deal for tile cleaning and then sealing the heck out of it so I can avoid this problem. Our builder didn't seal it and hence the reason for this problem in the first place. Don't even get me started on my stone tiled shower and dirty grout and soap scum that refuses to go no matter what I do. I would maybe ask the owner if they could have someone clean and seal the grout? It's in their best interest to do it anyway and it wouldn't be much for that little space.

Thanks for the tips!

We're still getting "a feel" for this place/landlord, so we'll see. I also don't know how long we'll be here... :)

One more thing is maybe having them regrout and then seal them this time.

My kitchen has dark counter tops and tile floor. My floor is a light tan textured kind of tile but it has the darker grout. I actually like the dark counter tops and the tile floor. It's cooler in the summer and kind of nice. In the winter I wear 2 pair of socks if I'm not wearing shoes and it's still a little chilly.

Glad to see you back, I missed your posts while you were moving. :-)

Yeah! I think everyone has different tastes. I don't mind floors that "hide" the dirt, but I don't like it when I can't see a mess that truly needs cleaned. :P :)

Cream of Tartar--I use it on my bathroom grout that gets moldy--great stuff! Check the blog for how to and more uses.

Wet the grout then put baking soda on it and let it soak in for a bit. Won't take near as much scrubbing. A heavy duty scrub brush from the dollar store makes a difference too.

I think a toothbrush might be better for a small bathroom job or something -- I should have gotten a bigger brush for the floor and it would have gone faster! But, old toothbrushes are free and I don't like shopping/errands. :)

I, too, had a tile floor as a renter. Seriously can't understand why people spend so much money on them cause they are a total pain. I would ask the landlord is you can put down some inexpensive vinyl. It won't last years and years, but it will last while you rent, and the payback in your time will be huge.

Have you ever looked into buying a home. It's seriously not that expensive. Go talk to the bank about financing and see what happens. Then you can settle and make a place your own for your family.

I doubt the landlord would want us messing with the floor, plus we may not be here super long -- like you said, it would be nice to buy something when we're able. Housing is fairly expensive here and we don't have a huge income but we DO have 5 kids so we want something big enough (1500 sq. ft., for example). It's hard when a house costs 7-8 times your annual income, you know? :) We've also had medical and other bills we've needed to save for. Hopefully soon we can "get ahead" enough to buy because I'm tired of moving -- it's sooo much work! I'd rather spend that time and energy on our own place. :) But, all in God's timing. :)

Now that it's nice and clean, seal the grout. Your local hardware store should have silicone based grout sealer that you can apply to help keep it from darkening again. Will save a lot of scrubbing down the road.

Love your kitchen by the way, would love to have those counter tops, we're renting as well and have very light beige counter tops that stain too easily, hard to keep them looking clean.

Glad you're back!


Thanks, Jen!

My mom has formica counter tops and she actually has some sort of polish she applies once a month (I think??? that is what she said) that helps keep stains away and keep them looking nice. Crazy! :)

I actually like the granite counter tops more than I thought I would, and I see why it's a good, durable, luxurious selection -- but I would definitely go for something lighter if I ever had a choice. :)

Will be hunting a polish for my countertops this weekend!

I used to really like the look of them when I saw them in magazines but the last place we rented had them in the kitchen and entry ways and I learned I am not a fan in real life. Things would get caught in the grout when I mopped and swept, which was inconvenient, but as another commenter said, klutziness and tile don't mix. I lost a couple plates, a pepper mill and a dehydrator in the few short months we lived there. Never again for me if I can help it, but sometimes with renting you have to take what you can, I guess.

Bummer! I like having the kids help in the kitchen... I hope they can be careful enough that not too many things get broken while we live here!

And I spoke too soon in my post -- just this evening, Channah (16 months old) was walking around in the kitchen, pulled a placemat off the table, and the plate on it fell to the floor and shattered. At least it was a plate (this time!)... those can be replaced at GoodWill eventually. :)

Yes, so true -- and I doubt most of us are living in our "dream houses"! I do have a lot of things to be thankful for. :)

I have tile floors and dislike them! My grout was really, really light. And in my kitchen, around the stove, especially, it has stained up. I felt like I tried all sorts of cleans with no luck. I hadn't tried the peroxide and baking soda, though. I even used bleach in an effort to whiten them --didn't work.

Next time I will just go with wood floors or check into concrete flooring. I was afraid of having the wood flooring in the kitchen because I noticed it can have fine scratches. At this point, I'd take fine scratches over this grout.

Our ENTIRE house is made of tile. It's fun in -30F lol, cold!

The only positive: you can put lidded food on the ground to cool quickly to put into the refrigerator. The tile sucks the heat right out so I can go from oven to fridge in about 40 - 60
minutes depending. Sometimes quicker.

Dust mops are a lifesaver for tile. You can get some cheapo microfiber clothes from Walmart and they do just fine. It catches all the little crumbs and things on the tile without you having to
really sweep.

I can knock down my vacuuming to once or twice a week if I dustmop once or twice a day.

Oh, my! Well, thankfully Channah is walking now so when the weather turns cold she won't be down on the floor as much. I have socks and slippers, and so does Joshua, so we may just have to watch for slippers for the kids. (This house is not all tile but what isn't tile is Pergo/fake wood.) It doesn't get super cold here in the winter, but we normally keep our house cool (64 to 68F depending on how expensive the heat ends up being) so I imagine the floors will feel pretty chilly. I'll enjoy going barefoot all summer at least. :)

Oooh, good point about cooling things quickly! I wonder if the granite counter tops here would work similarly, as well (and avoid having things within reach of babies). I'll have to remember that when I'm doing baking and soups when the weather cools. :)

I have some microfiber cloths -- bright yellow ones that Joshua's mom gave me (from a Costco multi-pack) so I'll have to try those on my mop. We vacuum the kitchen/dining daily due to having little kids who drop lots of crumbs, and vacuum the rest of the house every 2-3 days (due to kids dragging dirt in from outside!). Thankfully the kids do help vacuum so I'm not always the one doing it! I love how easy it is to vacuum hard floors, including getting under the furniture! :)

I don't know if anyone else has mentioned this, but we put an indoor outdoor rug under our table. You can vacuum it easily, but also wash spots with soap and water. It was very inexpensive from (and they love to work with bloggers doing reviews!) and makes it so much easier to clean under the table.

I have tile floors, but the grout on the floor doesn't really get too dirty. I think it must be sealed look into sealing it!

However, I have tile countertops that I hate with a passion. It is small tile squares and the grout is a nightmare. I might try your tips on there.

Hi Tammy,

I hope everything's going well for you and your family after your move! I wanted to comment an tell you thank you for the grout cleaning tip. I have wood floors throughout the house and stone tile floor in the dining room that's really easy to clean with dark grout but my bathroom has been a real issue since we bought the house a year & 1/2 ago. It's white small tiles with white grout ((WHY?)). I got in there with hydrogen peroxide and old toothbrushes and it looks terrific!

Hope you and Joshua are doing well!


I was surprised to hear you had moved but then as I read along, I realized it was kind of a surprise for you too ;)
Your new place looks nice!
And wow, what a difference to the kitchen floor. I agree with you on tile floors and grout...
Your new table looks wonderful :)

I have a cheese slicing tip:

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