The grout in my shower is so discolored that I should really be ashamed of it — particularly as the homes editor. While I keep the rest of my shower in tip-top condition, including cleaning the shower head as well as the glass door, taking the time to give the grout a once over is something I always put off. As a result, my once gray grout has turned a vibrant orange from a combination of hard water and soap scum.
This is not a pretty picture, especially once it spreads throughout the shower. So I decided to bite the bullet and give it a well-needed scrub. But, instead of breaking out the cleaning chemicals, I decided to try something I hadn’t before — toothpaste. I’m always sceptical of cleaning hacks, but this one surprised me. Here’s what happened.
Before I begin, it’s worth flagging that you need plain white, non-gel toothpaste if you want to try this hack — anything with a bright color could end up staining the grout. Gel toothpaste should also be avoided because these often contain dyes which can be transferred. You can tell the difference between the two because toothpaste is thick and solid in color, while gel is smooth and translucent.
You’ll need to find an old toothbrush you don’t mind sacrificing for the good of cleaning as well. I keep a couple of spare manual kids brushes on standby for cleaning tasks such as these. You don’t need anything fancy — these Amazon Basics Orbit Toothbrushes ($8.06, Amazon (opens in new tab)) would work just fine.
How to clean grout with toothpaste
This cleaning hack couldn’t be more simple — you literally scrub the grout with toothpaste just as you would your teeth. Admittedly, I held little hope for success here to start with. Sometimes I question the power of toothpaste on my teeth, let alone on anything else. I applied a small amount of toothpaste to the brush, rinsed it with water and started to scrub the grout. It foamed up immediately, and to my amazement, the stain faded within a couple of scrubs.
I was shocked, so much so that I tried scrubbing another stained area with just water to see if that shifted as easily. Some of the stain lifted, but nowhere near as much or as easily as with the toothpaste.
I was chuffed with the results from the toothpaste, and add to that the shower smelled minty fresh, so cleaning my grout couldn’t have been more pleasant.
I tried using the toothpaste on brighter and more substantial stains (yes, I did let it get that bad). Not to my surprise, I had to scrub a little harder on these and be more persistent, scrubbing back and forth as well as in a circular motion for a thorough clean. With time, the stains lifted as before — the toothpaste worked like a charm.
I could tell the toothpaste was making a difference off the bat because the bristles were covered in the same orange stain from my grouting. I assumed that my toothbrush would be a goner after this task because of this. Surprisingly, all it took was some water to rinse it clean, so the toothbrush can be used again next time.
Once the stains were removed from the grout, all I had to do was wipe away the residual toothpaste using a microfiber cloth soaked in soapy water, and rinse. Voila — my grout looked as good as new. Cleaning a portion of it literally took minutes. You can see a section of grout I cleaned compared to how it used to look below.
I definitely recommend this hack considering the ease and results. However, I would advise keeping a glass of water by your side to continually rinse the toothbrush as you scrub — running back and forth to the sink got tiresome quite quickly.
As I was on a roll, I also tried using the toothpaste on the orange stains on my sealant. One of the corners of my shower, in particular, had seen better days, so I tried it here. It was admittedly tricky to reach into the corner with a toothbrush, but with persistence, this too faded, though it wasn’t completely erased. I think this was down to inaccessibility, rather than the hack though, so I might need to find a brush with better reach.
So there you have it, I’m now fully converted to using toothpaste as a cleaner — it’s cheap, effective and smells great too. Of course, there will always be grout stains that need something a little stronger. Be sure to check out our guide on how to clean grout on floor tiles for more advice.
Why should you use toothpaste as a cleaner?
Toothpaste is actually ideal for household cleaning. This is because it’s abrasive, which makes it great for scrubbing, and it often contains baking soda, of which we’re all aware of the cleaning properties. It’s not, however, so coarse that it could scratch and damage surfaces. If the toothpaste claims to whiten, then that’s all the better for fading stains.
Because of this, toothpaste is a go-to cleaner for all kinds of tasks, from removing permanent marker to shining silver.