In keeping with yesterday's experience theme, I thought I'd talk about grout.

For those of you who are lucky enough to have never encountered a typical NYC bathroom, I'd like you to picture the most horrifying rest-stop or public park bathroom you've ever been to in your life. The moldy corners, the leaky pipes, the suspect smells, and the layers and layers of gunk built up in between the tile. Landlords tell us they've had the bathrooms cleaned before we move in, and yet this is what most of us encounter in the space in which we're supposed to maintain our daily hygiene.

That grout is as black as my soul after I've turned off all of my humanity in order to brave the rats, smell of urine, and many, many pushy subway riders on my morning commute. Which is to say, very black. And completely disgusting.

I decided that this apartment would be the first in which I felt truly clean. My last bathroom wasn't so bad, the whole apartment just didn't vent very well so it grew mold no matter how hard I battled. I lost that war, but I was determined not to lose this one. I decided to first attack the grout with my trusty white vinegar and baking soda, as I suspected the floor would take a lot of product to get it clean and I didn't want to waste my expensive cleaner. Full disclosure, though, my mother recommended using Windex to me after I had done half of the floor and I've since gone back and used it on our walls and the particularly difficult sections of the floor that I couldn't get clean the first time, and it works like complete and total magic. I still recommend this version first if you don't want to use up an entire bottle of Windex for your first go-round.

Anyway, there's no particular formula to get it right, just mix the baking soda and vinegar until you reach a consistency that works for you. I progressively made mine thinner and thinner, as I found it worked just as well and spread more easily if it was more the consistency of a sauce rather than paste. You can also add some lemon juice in there. Essentially you're mixing together ingredients that will work together to break down the gunk, and the bubbly-awesome reaction of baking soda with vinegar or acidity does the trick.

I spread it into the grout (and all over the tile) in sections, then let it sit for a good twenty minutes. Using the smaller of these cleaning brushes, I scrubbed (and scrubbed) the grout, until:

*Angels singing* Thank GOD. Clearly it can't look like this forever, but a few months later it still looks pretty good:

Not perfect, but I don't feel like I'm going to contract some horrible disease from walking on my own bathroom floor barefoot. It is amazing how much grime builds up all over apartments in New York City. I'm just happy I don't feel like I'm inhaling it through the steam of my shower every morning. Talk about an experience changer.

 

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