Grout getting grungy? Call an expert

#593 in a series of true experiences in real estate
September 2009, Hills Newspapers

My house, which was built sometime during the 1940s, has 3 bathrooms, two on the main living level and a third, along with a recreation room downstairs. There are two stall showers, one original to the house, the other newer, and a shower over a tub, still as built. All three have ceramic tile walls.

After awhile of use, the grout between the shower tiles gets dirty, the caulk around the edges turns gray and black, and the tile is dulled by soap and shampoo. I’ve tried all sorts of cleaning products and ways to combat the effects of using the showers. I do wish I could keep all of them shiny and clean.

About 5 years ago I hired grout people to come to my house and work on the shower that gets the most use. A wonderfully able young man spent most of a day standing in the shower stall scraping the surfaces of the grout between the tiles and then filling them again with new white grout. He removed the caulking around the edges of the glass door and put new white caulk in its place. The result was a miracle: all-over clean, like new again, a welcoming shower.

We were so impressed by the renewal that we hired the grout people to redo a shower stall at a listing we had, then tiled kitchen counters in several different listings, and most recently, a tiled kitchen floor. For the most part, these jobs were as successful as the first one at my house although the kitchen counters all had chipped and cracked tiles, some with pieces missing altogether, and nothing could be done to hide these. Still, all the jobs looked clean and far more appealing after the work; newly applied white grout does wonders.

The grout people apply a sealer at the end of each job but of course over a period of time, it wears off. We haven’t been back to see what has happened at our listings but at home, the showers were all looking needy. I decided it was time to call the grout folks again.

I am thrilled to report that all three showers in my house are again sparkling clean. It cost less than $800 to have the work done. Not all grout was dug out and redone; some we had acid washed only and old stains on the grout of one tile wall remain. But all of the caulk around all of the edges is new and gorgeous. Especially if we use only colorless shampoo (most contain red dye) and if we squeegee down the walls after use, the showers should look pretty good for quite awhile.

I can make the rest of a bathroom look clean and tidy in about 5 minutes. Here’s how: Wash counters with a wet sponge and liquid cleaner and wipe with a dry cloth. Wash mirror and wipe. I use Invisible Glass which is available in trigger spray or aerosol in the auto section of places like Target. It does not streak or leave film on the glass. Dust or wash everything stored on counter. Run cloth around edges of tile, window sill and towel racks to remove dust.

Wash toilet back, seat and edge. Flush toilet and when water is at its lowest level, use toilet brush on inside of toilet. Shake out throw rugs, or put them in washer. Sweep floor (synthetic bristle broom works best to clean floor), then, with a wrung out wet rag, wipe the entire floor.

Last thing: wash sink and polish the faucet with a dry cloth (this is important – makes the entire room look good). Replace rugs. That’s it.

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