Steam cleaners are the power tools of grout cleaning (and other types of deep cleaning). They make quick work of an otherwise tedious and arm-killing job. Steam cleaners heat water to more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit and have nozzles that direct blasts of steam onto the grout. The nozzles can hold special nylon or brass brushes made specifically for grout cleaning, so you scrub while you steam. The process creates a dirty slurry of grime and water that you simply rinse or mop away.
Why Grout Gets So Dirty
Upon installation, tile grout is forced between the tiles to fill the gaps and help stabilize the tile. The surface of the tile itself is smooth and relatively easy to clean. By contrast, tile grout, being slightly lower than the tile and containing sand, attracts all sorts of debris. In tubs and showers, this gunk is mostly hardened soap scum, mineral scale, and general grime (and sometimes mold) from the moist environment. On tile flooring, the debris mainly consists of embedded dirt, but it too can contain the built-up residue of detergents.
This gunk works into the pores of the grout and, over time, becomes progressively more difficult to remove with normal cleaning. Even scrubbing vigorously with a stiff-bristled brush and using powerful cleansers and machines may produce unsatisfactory results. Steam cleaning is more effective because it uses steam and simultaneous scrubbing without the need for harsh detergents.