Shower Grout Mildew Removal

Dirty shower grout lines.
  • 1-3 hours
  • Beginner
  • 15-60
What You'll Need
Baking soda
White vinegar
Lemon juice
Commercial cleaners
Spray bottle (optional)

The toughest household duty is shower grout mildew removal. Black mildew is difficult to prevent and even more difficult to clean. With the right cleansers and some elbow grease, the mildew can be removed.

Different ways to remove mildew from shower grout use the same basic process; apply the cleansing agent, scrub, and rinse. Some methods use natural household products and others use commercial products. Whichever method is used, a nylon tile and grout brush or similar tool are necessary for scrubbing the grout.

Natural Cleaning Method

You can clean tile mildew using natural ingredients like baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar. Sprinkle baking soda onto the grout. Pour white vinegar on the baking soda. Let it set for five minutes. The combination will produce a bubbling and fizzing reaction that will loosen mildew and dirt for easier removal. Scrub the grout with a tile brush to remove the mildew. Note that vinegar should never be used on marble tiles because it will cause damage to the surface. After scrubbing, rinse the area with clean, warm water and repeat until the mildew is gone.

Another effective natural cleaning method is to mix baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar together to make a paste. Mix equal parts vinegar and lemon juice then add a little baking soda at a time while stirring until a paste consistency is formed. Using a brush or gloved hand, rub the paste on the tile grout. Let it set for 5 minutes, then scrub with the tile brush. The benefit to using paste is it will stay on the grout without dripping. After scrubbing the grout thoroughly, rinse it with warm water and repeat.

Between heavy cleanings, the same natural ingredients can be used in other ways. Half a lemon can be dipped in vinegar, then scrubbed over the tile grout. Vinegar and water can be combined in a spray bottle and applied to the tile grout. For either method apply the cleanser, wipe vigorously with a large damp sponge, then rinse.

Commercial Cleaning Products

A man cleans grout lines.

Commercially available mildew removers are plentiful at grocery, department, and hardware stores. Most are antibacterial and require room ventilation during use because of the strong chemical smell. Chemicals often used as ingredients include ammonia, bleach, and alcohol.

Commercial cleaning products require the same scrubbing technique as other methods. Generally, the directions on these products advise the user to spray the product on the tile and grout, let it set for a specified period of time, then scrub and rinse.

Commercial cleaning products that do not have harsh chemicals included are powdered mild detergents. The powdered detergents are labeled for multiple uses including use as a laundry additive, countertop cleaner, and general hard surface cleaner. These detergents can be as effective as other methods, but also require a great deal of scrubbing.

Remember, mildew stains took months or years to develop and it may take a few hours or days to completely remove. Removing mildew from tile grout can be exhausting, but once removed, regular cleaning every few weeks can prevent the mildew from returning.