Clean Science

April 15, 2015

When we first moved into our home, I loved that we had more tile than carpet. I’m not anti-carpet. Carpet definitely has its benefits. However, after living in apartments, which generally have wall-to-wall carpeting, you learn the downsides of carpet very quickly. I thought having tile was going to be wonderful. Imagine me dancing around the kitchen with a broom while signing “My Favorite Things”. That’s what I imagined. Then I learned that there is a fate far, far worse than carpet stains… It’s grout stains.

grout stains


The floors weren’t pristine to begin with. After about a year, we had them professionally cleaned and the grout resealed. The professional cleaning definitely made a huge difference, but the grout didn’t look great for long. I’ve tried numerous Pinterest recipes and countless store-bought products, nothing was helping. A few months ago, I read about using carpet cleaner to clean grout. I know. It’s so simple, it’s unbelievable. But believe me, it works. It really works. I tested it out with Woolite’s Pet Stain Remover. There was no scrubbing, no letting it sit for 30+ mins on end. I sprayed it, let it sit for 2 minutes, then wiped it up with a dry dish towel. It looked better, but not fantastic. However, once it dried… Whoa! The dirt was gone. G-O-N-E. It was very exciting! I didn’t do all of the grout, however, because I had very little cleaner left and it’s 1000+ square feet of tile downstairs.

(Please pardon the picture quality. This area of the house gets little to no natural light.)

Well, I finally remembered to buy more, and I also found this guy at Randall’s:

Folex bottle

There are some pretty hefty claims written all over the bottle. “Stains disappear before your eyes!”, “No rinsing!”, “Instant!” There is also a money back guarantee, so… challenge accepted! It did get stains out of our rug and carpet; including black paint! But how would it work on grout? I decided to conduct a little science experiment.

The contenders: Oxy Clean, Woolite Pet Stain + Odor Remover, and Folex.
The challenge: the three dirtiest grout lines in our house.

all 3 cleaners

I sprayed the Folex on one line and the Woolite on another line. The Oxy Clean needed to be mixed first, so I mixed it in a bowl and then poured it on the grout line. I did lightly scrub the Oxy Clean with a brush per the directions. At first, it seemed like it was no contest, Oxy Clean was noticeably cleaner within seconds.

oxy clean line2 (1 of 1)

To be fair, however, I let everything sit for about three minutes, and then wiped it up with a dish towel. Unbelievable.

oxy clean line3

The Woolite and Folex seemed like they had each done a pretty good job, as well. The Oxy Clean still seemed like the winner, but it did have a few strikes against it. It left grit and film on the floor, despite rinsing it twice. I decided to wait until morning to pick a winner. (Yes, I said winner. Yes, I’m a total nerd.) I wanted to see if the Woolite and/or the Folex would look better after it dried.  No surprise, it did.

the best grout cleaner results

The Folex and the Woolite lines actually looked cleaner than the Oxy Clean line. The Oxy Clean line wasn’t consistent; parts of it were really clean and parts were still dirty. Not to mention, it had an even more visible residue the next morning! (The cleaner looking parts were probably just residue.) It was like the Pinterest baking soda recipe all over again, which left more of a mess than it actually cleaned. Michael wiped the entire floor in that area to try to remove the residue. A few hours later, it was back again. Emerson wanted to do a chore for money, so I had him (and Eleanor) wipe the floor again.


oxy clean left a residue

It’s a bit of a toss-up between the Folex and the Woolite. Both were incredibly easy, didn’t require scrubbing, and didn’t need 30+ minutes to work. However, the Woolite line was slightly cleaner than the Folex line, so I’m declaring Woolite as the winner.

folex and woolite results

I wasn’t paid by any of these companies to review their products. No, I come up with these ideas all by myself. I just wanted to share this tip with anyone else trapped in the never-ending struggle with dirty grout. Now imagine me dancing around my kitchen with a bottle of Woolite to “Eye of the Tiger”.

how to get really clean grout easily

Anyone else have any great / surprising cleaning tips to share? Leave a comment and let us know!

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  • Reply ashlee April 16, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    Blair!!!! This information would’ve been great… YESTERDAY!!! Lol.. Jokes aside, that is impressive. I still have tile in my bathroom, I iust may try this. My mother in law will love this too, she shares our same sentiments about grout! I must share!!!

    • Reply Blair April 16, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      Haha. Sorry it’s late Ashlee. Yes, please share! I’d love to know how it works for everyone else. I’ve also used the bottled Thieves Cleaner (diluted) by Young Living. It also worked VERY well, and is probably more natural. Thanks for reading, Ashlee!

  • Reply Christy April 16, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    I use Thieves to clean my tile, but have never tried it specifically for the grout. Do you recommend spraying it on and just wiping it off after a few minutes?

    • Reply Blair April 16, 2015 at 8:46 pm

      Yes, Christy, that is exactly what I did in my kitchen. I sprayed the Thieves cleaner (diluted) directly onto my grout. I let it sit for, maybe, 5 minutes, and then I wiped it with a clean, dry dish cloth. It’s still clean even we need to mop! I have a lot of tile, so I didn’t want to use all of my Thieves on it, but it certainly works just as well as the carpet cleaner!

  • Reply Phyllis April 17, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Hi Blair, I’m a close friend of Ashlee’s grandmother (in MI). I have some grout that isn’t white to begin with (gray tone), but I’m going to try this! GREAT experiment, I’d say! Thanks! And I’ll thank Ashlee for sharing it with us, too. 🙂 Phyllis

    • Reply Blair April 17, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      Hello, Phyllis! I’m so happy you found us! Our grout isn’t white to begin with either, but this has definitely worked for us. I hope it works for you, too. Let us know how it turns out!

  • Reply Kelly July 28, 2018 at 7:55 am

    YES!!! Great method comparison. I’ve also enjoyed the grout benefits of Woolite! I haven’t tried the other ones, but you’ve saved me the time, thanks!!

  • Reply Kim August 10, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Hi! I’ve been using Folex to clean grout for about a year. I discovered it by chance and was amazed at how easy it is and how it looks even cleaner after it dries. Plus, no strong cleaning odors. Glad to see I’m not the only one using this trick!

  • Reply Talitha Carter August 24, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Did you try this on colored grout?? I am searching for something to work on my brown grout without discoloring it.

    • Reply Blair December 30, 2018 at 10:34 am

      I haven’t tried it on colored grout. Sorry!

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