Q&A / 

Removing Mildew from Grout

Remove Mildew From Grout TIPS


DEAR TIM: It is a long, long story but the bottom line is that my ceramic tile shower is a mess. There is mildew everywhere and other really tough stains that are nearly impossible to remove. Is there a way to make the white grout look like new? It seems that the mildew has penetrated deeply into the grout. What can I do to restore the shower to its original condition? What can I do to prevent this from happening again? Molly S., Orangeburg, SC

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local cleaning companies that can remove mildew from your grout.

DEAR MOLLY: Six weeks ago a friend of mine had the same problem. One day while we were with our kids at the community swimming pool he said he tried many off-the-shelf cleaners and products at grocery stores to clean his tile shower. He was not satisfied with the results and was ready to tear out the tile and grout and start over.

Magic Powder

Oxygen Bleach

Stain Solver is MADE in the USA with USA ingredients that are food-grade quality. CLICK THE IMAGE to order some NOW.

When I told him how to solve his problem, he couldn't believe it. I gave him some magic powder that I happened to have in my car and he used it. Two weeks ago when I next saw him at the pool, he said his shower looked like new. Ah, another satisfied customer!

While he had some products at his house that would work, most of them, like chlorine bleach, produce toxic odors and can ruin clothes and carpets in bathrooms if you're not careful.

My friend got amazing results because he used a miracle product called Stain Solver that I had discovered while doing research on how to clean and seal a deck of all things!

Non-Toxic & Certified Organic

Stain Solver a certified organic oxygen bleach that has no odor and does an amazing job of safely cleaning mildew, mold and soap scum from tubs and showers.

It also cleans anything that's water washable, including ceramic tile, grout, acrylic tubs, whirlpool tubs, vinyl siding, tough stains from clothes, etc. If it's water washable, Stain Solver will clean it. But that's a story for a different day. Let's worry now about cleaning your shower!

If you want to see all the things that Stain Solver can clean, assuming you have time, go look at all of the Before and After photos sent in by customers. CLICK HERE to see them.

My favorite before and after photo set is one about a baseball cap of all things. You'll not believe your eyes! CLICK HERE to see the cap and read the short story about it.

To restore your ceramic tile shower to near perfect condition, you're going to need several things. Get a new scrub brush that has stiff nylon or plastic bristles, a roll of paper towels, a gallon of white vinegar, some certified organic Stain Solver, some liquid dish soap, and some old clothes.

Some Effort and Patience

There's a very good chance the stains and dirt have taken months to accumulate. It's very likely mold and mildew can be locked into layer after layer of paper-thin hard water deposits.

Don't think you are going to complete this job in 30 minutes or less. The entire process is going to take place over a period of hours and possibly several days if the mildew and mold is out of control. If you do have complete success in just 30 minutes, you're very lucky!

The first thing to do is to use the scrub brush to remove as much mildew, dirt, soap film etc. as possible from the tile and grout. Mix up a simple solution of Stain Solver using hot tap water.

Mix two tablespoons of Stain Solver powder to one quart of hot tap water. Stir continuously until dissolved. Be sure you stir until all the small powder balls have dissolved, then put the solution into an old spray bottle.

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local cleaning companies that can remove mildew from your grout.

Allow Stain Solver To Work

Spritz the dry tub, shower and wall surfaces with the Stain Solver solution. Apply so it runs down the walls. Let the solution sit for about fifteen minutes allowing the powerful oxygen ions to work. The longer you let it soak and work, the less scrubbing you have to do.

Spray on more Stain Solver solution after ten minutes. Grab a stiff scrub brush and squirt a small amount of liquid dish soap on the brush and get it wet. After the fifteen-minute wait period scrub the walls and floor and rinse.

Use enough extra water to get the soap to really foam up as you scrub. This removes dirt, soap scum and mildew at the surface. Rinse all surfaces with clear water.

Stubborn Hard Water Deposits

After this cleaning process, you will probably have some dull stains that won't budge both on the tile and in the grout. These are very likely locked in place by hard water deposits. You'll remove those using some paper towels and white vinegar.

Saturate some paper towels with the vinegar and place them over the hard water stains. Do this on the floor and any vertical surfaces. The wet paper towels will readily cling to vertical surfaces. Vinegar is a very mild acid and it works slowly but efficiently to dissolve the alkaline hard-water deposits.

The vinegar will need to work for hours. Stop back every hour to make sure the towels are still wet with vinegar. Pull away a towel and scrub the deposits.

They may completely wash away. If they do not, pour fresh vinegar on the towels and allow the chemical reaction to continue. Heavy deposits can take up to eight or twelve hours or so to completely melt away. The trick is to keep fresh vinegar on the towels.

Once you have all of the hard water deposits removed, clean the shower again with Stain Solver to remove all traces of vinegar.

Residual Mildew

It is now time to attack any residual mildew that has stained the grout. To get the BEST RESULTS, you need to make sure any tile grout is dry. Use a fan to dry the grout in a few hours. The reason you want the grout to be dry is simple.

If it's wet, the fresh Stain Solver solution you'll be applying can't soak into the grout because water is filling up the micro pores of the grout. It's mission critical the grout is dry so the micro-cleaning oxygen bubbles from Stain Solver can soak deep into the grout.

Mix up fresh Stain Solver and apply it to the stained grout. You may have to use paper towels just like you did with the vinegar. Saturate as many towels as necessary and put these in contact with the mildew stained grout.

It can take hours and possibly a few days to bleach out all of the mildew in the grout. Come back every hour or so and pour on more fresh Stain Solver solution to ensure it never evaporates.

Be aware that once you mix the Stain Solver powder with water, it only works for six hours. If you need to clean over a few days, you'll need to mix new solution every cleaning session. That's why you should not mix more than a quart each time.

How to STOP Mildew Forever!

To prevent the mildew and mold once you have it clean, it helps to understand mildew. It's an organism that requires food and water to live. Showers and bath areas provide the moisture and you provide the food every time you use soap, shampoo, cream rinse, etc.

The dirt and oils you wash from your skin and hair are food for mildew. Dust that can be floating around your bathroom is food for mildew. If you minimize or eliminate the food and water, you can eliminate the mildew.

The first step in mildew prevention is to squeegee your shower and tub after each use. Wipe down all walls and the floor with the squeegee to get as much water as possible into the drain.

If you have a shower curtain, shake it well before using the squeegee to get water off of it. Leave the shower curtain pulled back or a glass shower door open so the shower area air dries as fast as possible. Leave the bathroom door open as well so the humidity in the room drops as fast as possible.

It's important to clean the shower every two weeks. You need to remove invisible body oils, soap film, etc. from the surfaces so there's no food for the mildew to munch on. Believe me, if you do the above things, your shower will be mildew-free for years to come.

Message from Tim:

Years ago while researching a column about cleaning decks, I discovered the wonders of Oxygen Bleach. It is perhaps the 'greenest' cleaner I know of as it uses oxygen ions to break apart stains, dirt and odor molecules. There are no harsh chemicals, and it works on just about anything that is water washable.

I decided to create my own special blend using ingredients made in the USA. In fact, the raw materials in the active ingredient are food-grade quality registered with the FDA. I call my product Stain Solver. I urge you to use it to help clean your ceramic tile and grout. You will be amazed at the results!

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local cleaning companies that can remove mildew from your grout.

Companion Articles:   Bathroom Mildew Removal, Oxygen Bleach Tile CleanerCeramic Tile Cleaner Products

Column 284


27 Responses to Removing Mildew from Grout

  1. Hi Tim, I have a problem with orangy stain in my grout which is white on white tile, and some areas have a dark stain. I assume it is shampoo build up and mold as I dont often use soap, but sometimes body washes. I am only able to clean a tiny portion of the shower stall at a time due to untratable asthma. I sprayed a very sm area today with bathroom and tile cleaner, not even H20 bleach, and couldnt breath. I had to stop right there. I sometimes will spray a soln of 95:5 H20 to O2 bleach then go back and run the shower but after reading your article I understand why that is not working...its not staying wet long enough to dissolve any matter. AHHH. Thank you.
    given that I have multiple chemical sensitivities etc I wonder if using the hand held unit form my floor steamer would be a good solution for me, using just plain water. What do you think? Thank you for offering this to people; you are a wealth of knowledge and are very inspirational.

  2. Tim, once the shower is cleaned, how can a person keep the mildew from returning? We live in the damp northwest and what with the humidity and people taking showers at different times of day, the surfaces do not seem to ever really dry out.

  3. I tried the bleach on the paper towel method yesterday and was so surprised this morning. It removed all of the mildew in less than 24 hours. Thank you!!!

  4. Thank you for this article! My main issue was stained grout from where loofahs etc hang in the shower - I would never have thought of paper towels and now I can finally clean my shower properly 🙂

  5. remind people to thoroughly clean the vinegar off before applying bleach as those two chemicals make another chemical and it is noxious!

  6. Thank you, Tim. 🙂 Having real trouble with my shower tiles in this way. The mildew is rock-hard and nothing will bring it up. I'm going to do what you said. Bleach and vinegar sounds good to be!

  7. Thanks Tim. Your article saved us a few thousand dollars. Do you recommend sealing the grout once the stains have been removed?

  8. Going to try the bleach idea. I moved into an apartment on campus, and the people who lived here before us never cleaned the shower properly. My roommate and I spend hours scrubbing, but nothing worked. Hopefully this will.

  9. I saw mold appearing on/in my grout. I sprayed with Tilex mildew root Penetrator, let it sit for a while, took a brush, scrubbed, rinsed, but no change in the mold or mildew. Actually the grout was beginning to break up so I purchased a clear calking and spread it thinking it would take care of it, but NOPE.
    Now what do I do?

  10. I am really anxious to get the tile and grout clean in our new rental, but my tile is over an enamel tub, which is new for me. From my research, I understand that bleach and vinegar will damage an enamel tub. Additionally, I have problems with conventional bathroom cleaners (Tilex) leaving rust-colored stains when they drip down off the tile.

    I'm having a hard time coming up with a starting point. Help?

  11. yes!!! this actually worked! I was convinced the mold in my grout would never come out but after the vinegar and the bleach it's completely gone! I wish I could share before and after pics! it's like magic! thank you so much for the info!!! 🙂

  12. Tried this and it totally work. I've been struggling with black mold on the tile for a year and this finally got rid of it. It took almost 12 hrs with the vinegar and 24 with the bleach!

    However, I seem to have a secondary (less concerning since it's cosmetic but stil...) problem - the tiles have a white haze. They look find when they are wet but they dry white. I've scrubbed with my nylon brush but nothing. I tried a post vinegar round but that seems to have made it worse - seems like something worn off on top (not a film.) Any thoughts on what happened and how I can fix it?

    I'm mostly thrilled that we aren't facing the health issues related to the mold but it would be a complete win if I can get my tile looking pretty again.


  13. I clean houses, basic cleaning only. One of my houses that I've been cleaning for about 3 years was talking about having their tile shower replaced. I followed your directions and although it took about 5 hours total, it worked awesomely. I saved them from having to pay to replace theirs (yeah, it worked that well). Thanks for the info!

  14. Hi tim

    Looking forward to trying this. I bought a place where there's lots of mold in the grout. But I was curious your opinion before trying, the grout the previous owner used that's molding is very coarse and sand like. Additionally, in some places the grout is wearing away, doesn't seem to be sealed contributing the mold, and isn't all flush with the tile. Do you recommend I try your cleaning steps or do I need to remove the grout and redo it entirely?

  15. This worked like a charm! I was amazed at the difference in my shower stall. I wish I had taken before and after photos to share. So glad I came across this article!

  16. Hi Tim,

    As this is quite an old post I'm not sure if you're keeping up on it but I figure it's worth a shot. I have a shower with brown grout (intentionally), not white. It's starting to get black in the corners and I'm wondering if the bleach with make the grout white, which I do not want. Also, the floor is river rock, will this be an issue if bleach or vinegar is used on it?


  17. Why mold cause sever health problems just because of the people not take any action when they found mold in their house and after that the mold increases in growth and cause severe health issues to homeowners. They spend their day in that environment which is highly affected with the Toxic black mold which can also harmful to your health and cause a permanent damage. Homeowners never realize the affter effects of that black mold until they practically go through it. Toxic black mold cause problems such as mental disability, damaging internal organs, and sometimes a purpose of death. You can just have a quick checklist to remove Black mold without killing the environment as i have found both of the articles helpful for me. http://www.floodaz.com/how-to-remove-black-mold-without-killing-the-environment/

  18. I followed your instructions on saturating the paper towels with vinegar and putting them on the tile walls of my shower stall. However, contrary to your claim that the wet paper towels would
    readily cling" to the tiles, all of the paper towels fell off shortly after I applied them.

    • Deb,

      I can't believe your story. When I saturate a paper towel with white vinegar - -saturate means the vinegar is DRIPPING OFF IT - the paper towel clings to the vertical tile wall like wallpaper. It will stay there for hours unless you have a fan blowing air at it causing the vinegar to evaporate. Please take a series of photos showing what you're doing and submit them via my Ask Tim page. Look above in the navigation bar for that link. This may work too:


  19. Interesting, but the man from Bathfitters that installed our bathtub and tile told us never to use bleach on it. Are there alternatives?

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