I am a real sucker for taking shortcuts and doing things the easy way. To my mind, life is not made to be spent cleaning, so anything that shortens my time wearing rubber gloves is worth trying, or at the very least, reading about!

Having dirty grout is one of my pet hates, mainly because I live in an old house with a kitchen and a bathroom full of Portugal’s traditional tiles – I am not complaining about the tiles, they are beautiful – but the grout is very old too and is no longer white, and no doubt some clean-freak will tell me it is full of bacteria (yes, it probably is). There are apparently quite a few little hacks to bring these back to a sparkling clean, ingredients for which I probably already have in my cupboard somewhere.

Baking soda

Apparently, baking soda will do the trick, using a sponge, water and 1/2 cup of baking soda, I can wipe down my grout or give it a bit of a scrub with an old toothbrush to bring it back as good as new. Sounds too easy, doesn’t it.

Salt has antibacterial qualities, and apparently I simply need to rub salt into the grout, leave overnight, and hey presto, the salt will have sucked the dirt out to leave my grout clean and a smile on my face.

Really?

Another trick apparently is white vinegar, again using my old faithful toothbrush and a squirt of full-strength vinegar, then if that hasn’t worked, revert to the baking powder scrub. Hmm. This is starting to feel like hard work.

Citric acid might work too – everyone knows lemon juice will lighten things, and I am reliably informed it will kill off mould and mildew. If that fails - back to the baking soda, mix it with the lemon juice and scrub away with my faithful old toothbrush – which probably will have very few bristles left at this rate.

Borax apparently works similarly to baking soda in that it cleans, disinfects and deodorises (can you even get that here I wonder?). So, I should use some of this natural mineral product the same way as baking soda – a bit of elbow grease and a damp cloth - to make it look good as new.

Steam cleaner

Next up is to use a steam cleaner – which I don’t have. It won't lighten the grout but at least it will be clean dirt.

How about bleach? Grab a face mask because the fumes aren’t good, scrub, leave to soak, and then rinse with clear water.

I’m not saying any of these will work, although to be fair, I am prepared to have a go – but will only do a few tiles with each solution!

At a pinch, I could take a trip to the local hardware store to invest in a pot of grout (but this means digging out some of the old grout first with a special tool), but my favourite solution is a grouting pen (yes there is such a thing), and spend the rest of the day with my feet up reading a good book!