how to lighten grout

How to Lighten Dark Grout in 5 Easy Steps

It used to be that having dark grout was a sign that you had a filthy bathroom or kitchen—and to a point, it still can be. However, that is not the only reason why you might want to lighten your grout. These days, grout comes in all sorts of colors, and at times, you might not like the color grout in your bathroom.

How do you lighten dark grout? Lightening dark grout is a relatively simple process that can be done with bleach:

  1. Mix your bleach with water.
  2. Pour bleach on the grout and scrub.
  3. Keep adding the bleach mixture onto the grout every 10 to 15 seconds while you scrub.
  4. Let the bleach sit for up to 10 minutes.
  5. Rinse!

If you’re looking to get your grout lightened, then bleaching it is an excellent way to make it happen. Of course, pouring your bleach and knowing how to apply it makes all the difference here. This guide will let you know the full scoop on grout lightening.

How Do You Lighten Dark Grout?

There are two major ways to lighten dark grout. The fastest way to get your grout lightened is to sand down grout or use a grout colorant, but that is not exactly feasible for most people that just want to get a slightly lighter shade of color. That is why using bleach is the better DIY option.

Is Bleach Bad for Grout?

It can be if it is used recklessly. A little bit of bleach, when diluted, will be able to subtly lighten the grout’s color—which can be a great thing, if you’re looking to do that. However, dilution is key here.

If bleach is poured on your grout without being diluted, it can cause many problems, including:

  • Uneven discoloration. Having your bleach hit the grout without being diluted will cause your grout’s color to lighten at drastically variable rates. The lightening leads to a splotchy, uneven look that does not always look good.
  • Unusual discoloration. If you have colored bleach that is a unique hue like green or blue, you might want to rethink using bleach to lighten your grout. Bleach does not always react well with dyes used in grout. So, this might lead to having green grout turn orange, rather than a lime hue.
  • Weakening grout. Believe it or not, if undiluted bleach stays on your grout for too long, it can weaken the grout to the point of making it prone to chipping and cracking.

Can Bleach Help Grout?

Though bleach must be used carefully, in small, controlled amounts, it can be beneficial for your grout and tiling. Bleach is a known disinfectant and comes in handy when you’re trying to kill bacteria, viruses, mold, and mildew.

If your grout has been darkened due to the presence of mold or soap scum, bleach can be instrumental in fixing that problem… and preventing it from getting that bad again. Overall, bleach is a tool that will yield different results based on how you use it.

How to Lighten Grout Using Bleach

how to lighten dark grout

To get your grout looking lighter, you’re going to need to follow a strict methodology to get decent results. Before I get into the steps, let’s talk about what you’ll need to make it happen.

Tools Required

Prior to getting your grout lightened, you’ll need the following:

  • 1 liter of bleach
  • 1 large bucket
  • 1 plastic bristle brush with hard bristles
  • 1 sponge
  • 1 pair of gloves
  • 1 cloth

The Steps You Need to Take

Getting your grout bleached is not that hard to do. In fact, even the most novice DIY fans can turn their grout a little lighter with this method. Here is how to make it happen.

  1. Suit up. Wear your gloves and turn on a ventilator fan in your bathroom. The bleach fumes can irritate your lungs as well as your eyes.
  2. Mix five parts water with one-part chlorine bleach. Use the bristle brush to stir the mixture gently, ensuring that everything is evenly distributed.
  3. Scrub the grout using the bleach mixture. I suggest dipping and re-dipping the brush every 10 to 15 seconds of scrubbing.
  4. Once you have finished scrubbing away at the grout, let the bleach sit on the grout for up to 10 minutes. You can often see results in as little as 5 minutes, but it’s usually better to just wait for the full 10.
  5. Rinse your grout with water. I find that wiping down the grout with a sponge prior to a full rinse tends to help get rid of any grit that needed to be cleaned away. When you’re ready to fully rid your grout of the bleach, use a damp cloth to wipe it down.

Once you have finished working through these steps, you should notice a change in your grout’s coloration.

How Much Lightening Should I Expect From This Method?

Every grout mix will respond to bleaching slightly differently. The overall lightening effect can vary greatly depending on the time you leave the bleach on and the initial shade of your grout. The best way to say what you should expect is a range between 3 and 7 shades lighter.

It’s noticeable, but not crazy different.

When Should You Reconsider Using Bleach?

While most off-white grouts will work well with the bleaching method, it’s a bad idea to use this method if you have deeply dyed or colored grout. Using bleach will cause your grout to turn colors that you don’t want it to become.

What Can I Do if My Grout is Brightly Colored?

There are plenty of reasons why a person might want to lighten up grout that is heavily dyed. Though it’s not wise to try to lighten this grout with bleach, you do have two other methods you can use to change the color of your grout.

If regular bleach lightening won’t work, the best option that you can pursue is to change the color of your grout by taping off the tile, cleaning your grout, and applying some grout colorant. Colorant is an excellent go-to if you just need a unique hint of color to your bathroom.

If your grout already has a lot of colorants and layers, you’ll need to sand down your grout and replace it with a lighter shade. Sanding down your grout is often best done by a professional crew who can apply it evenly and avoid common pitfalls that could make your grout look off-kilter.


If you want to lighten grout, you have a few options available to you. It’s possible to lighten dark grout a few shades brighter with the use of bleach. All you need to do is dilute the bleach, scrub away, and rinse it off. As long as it’s done on off-white grout, your color should lighten rather than discolor.

However, if your grout has a bold color (like a bright red or blue), your best options are to use a grout colorant or to replace the grout. For the most part, bleach won’t harm your grout if used responsibly, but when you’re dealing with dye, it can lead to serious discoloration.

If you’re serious about DIY home repairs and touch ups like this, check out my post: Must-Have Tools of the Trade for Home Improvement DIYers.

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