One of the biggest turn-offs to potential buyers is seeing dirty grout on tile floors. Dirty grout sends a message to buyers that the floor isn’t clean, and if the floor isn’t clean then the rest of the home may not be clean either, and unclean homes typically mean deferred maintenance. See what happens there? However, in most cases, grout isn’t dirty, it’s stained from years of product build-up, mildew, and being walked on. The bottom line, however, is that part of getting your home ready to list means making it sparkle from the top to the bottom, and the bottom means getting your tile floors in pristine condition.
My first suggestion is to try various non-toxic cleaning products, many of which can already be found in your pantry, and with a little elbow grease, you can diminish those unsightly grout stains. First, try using the powerful combination of baking soda and vinegar. Just mix baking soda with vinegar into a paste. (Some people also recommend mixing baking soda and hydrogen peroxide into a paste). Then, apply the paste to the grout lines with an old toothbrush (either manual or electric—the latter will help loosen the dirt much more effectively). Then, wipe off the excess paste after letting it sit for 20-30 minutes. If the grout isn’t as clean as you’d like, try applying lemon juice directly to the stained areas, let sit for a few minutes and then wipe clean.
Alternative cleaners to try to include are whitening toothpaste, again using an old toothbrush (electric is even better). You can also try covering the grout with shaving cream, letting it rest for a few minutes, and then scrub it off. Pencil erasers can also work, believe it or not. Another cleaner that is non-toxic and free of fumes is oxygen bleach. This common cleaner can be found in the grocery and drug store and is often found in powder form (ie, OxiClean) which can easily be made into a paste.
Commercial cleaning services are also options for those who don’t wish to expend the elbow grease necessary to deep-clean grout. While they are much more expensive than the remedies above, they certainly may be worth it for many homeowners. However, you choose to get that grout clean, be sure to take the time to have it sealed. Manufacturers recommend that tile be sealed at least twice a year, but annually at minimum is your best bet. These steps will be sure to increase the value of your tile floors!