Cleaning the bathroom...everyone's favourite pass-time right? Living in a rental home means that every three months a representative of the real estate office pops in for a visit to make sure you're keeping up with all the little jobs one should do. I suspect they really pop in to make sure you're not kicking holes in the walls or tearing down the door jambs to fuel the wood fire in winter. Even if you're not doing those things, part of their job is to find something that you're not doing quite well enough and then to report back to the owner that they're onto it!
I had one of those visits a couple of months ago, and the note left for me said that perhaps I could use an old toothbrush to clean the grouting in the bathroom. I need to point out that the entire floor and half the walls of the bathroom are tiled with gorgeous Italian rough surfaced tiles the colour of the Great Barrier Reef...just the watery part. It is a massive expanse of tiled area and it houses the shower, the loo and a sink with an open vanity. It is a gorgeous bathroom and I love it. Just for the record the grouting laid end to end would probably stretch halfway across Tasmania, but that's what you have to put up with if you want what is essentially a shower room. The shower head is massive and standing under it must be close to standing in an afternoon monsoonal downpour in a rainforest, all surrounded by speckled green tiles and...grout. It's a sublime experience.
Now the problem really started I think, when a friend gave me a gorgeous tub of exfoliant which was based on a delicious oil mixed with rough sea salt. I really enjoyed standing in my rain forest downpour and rubbing my gnarly old bod with this luxurious brew. It felt fabulous. I let the water rinse it off, dried myself on fluffy towels and got on with life. What I didn't notice was that the oil was not running down the generous drain hole with the water, but was clinging silently to the grouting. Probably to the tiles too...but the grouting was the place I noticed it first because oil deposited in that way collects all sorts of everyday dirt and dust and in its own quiet way, slowly and almost unnoticed, the lovely pale grey grouting took on a dirty orange tinge. There could have been some mysterious oil loving mould species there too, I don't know.
My eyesight is not that great these days, and I haven't looked that closely. Just by the way, I tend to have my glasses off in the bathroom as I'm about to shower or if I've just had a shower, then the room is all steamy and so are my glasses if I put them on so I can't see anyway. Otherwise I've just popped in for a quick visit on the throne or a quick hand wash. I'm not checking the grouting in those moments. If I'm there for a longer visit sans steam, then I usually find myself with my nose in the Reader's Digest which has been a 'little room library feature' since childhood. It's a habit I'm happy enough to maintain. I learn lots of interesting bits n pieces while having a little sit...so it's a worthwhile and beneficial habit really. It takes away the sense of urgency...I can relax and take my time. Pardon me for that little aside...back to the grout.
So, when I knew the agent was coming I commandeered an old dish-brush and took to that grouting with vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and considerable vim and vigour. Not Vim. Not the cleanser (do they still make it?) but the old fashioned vim and vigour...which might have come from a Vim commercial in the first place. Not sure about that. Anyway, I put a lot of muscle into trying to get that grout clean ready for the real estate agent but it really didn't work all that well. In fact it was only marginally cleaner than when I had begun, but at that stage I thought it was the best I could do. And maybe it had been a little bit brownish to begin with...we tell ourselves these things don't we?! Well, to cut a long story short the agent left that note about the toothbrush and I knew I had to do better. I felt so ashamed! My grouting needed attention!! And someone other than me knew about it, horror of horrors. Well I have to tell you, I laughed when I saw the bit about the toothbrush. Seriously, I'd already hit it with a dish-brush which is the superhero of toothbrushes...or so I thought.
I Googled grouting and found all sorts of ideas there including some Very Special Tile and Grouting Cleaner (VSTGC) Available Only From Bunnings. I put it on the shopping list. I carried the list the hour and half to the airport to collect visitors (because Bunnings is not far from the airport) but then had to rush home and didn't get time to go and scour the shelves of the hardware giant. I checked out the shelves of local supermarkets and found nothing but a spray which just looked a bit insufficient. This was not a job for a spray. I knew that. For weeks my less than fabulous grouting mocked me each time I went into the bathroom. It was humiliating.
Then last week I bumbled into Big W with the grouting on my mind and went looking to see if they had some VSTGC...a Big W version. No they didn't. While I was there I noticed a very snappy looking little brush made by Sabco. It was lime green and wore a trendy little label reading 'Tile and Grout Brush'. Well, that got my interest! It was a sporty model, quite slim and quick looking...just right for speeding along those grouty corridors in my bathroom and peeling away the grime. But what would be the best thing to use with it. I hadn't been too impressed with the vinegar and bicarb and wanted something that held more promise. Browsing the cleaning items, I came across a large pot of Gumption. Do you remember Gumption? They still make it. It's probably a close cousin of Vim but a lot thicker. Paste really. I felt smug. I was pretty sure I had that grotty grouting beaten as I stood in the queue to pay.
I was right!! This morning I had my shower then spent an hour skidding that sporty little brush up and down every crack and crevice watching with glee as the brown vanished down the drain to be replaced by shiny, soft grey lines. Happiness is beautiful, pristine grouting. That's the truth. I may have to do a few little touch ups in some spots I missed but I wanted to share with you this winning combination - Sabco Tile and Grout Brush and Good Old Gumption! Go to it fellow scrubbers...it's almost Spring!