Grout cleaners with muscular claims were wimps in our tests

Cleaning the mildew from between the tiles of your shower or bathroom floor isn't anyone's idea of a good time. So when we saw the ads for Grout Bully ("clean mold and eliminate mildew") and Groutinator ("instantly restores grout to original color") we knew we had to put their tough-sounding claims to the test. But the as-seen-on-TV cleaners left behind visible dirt and other smudges.

Sold online for $10, Grout Bully works like a paint that's applied over mildew. It comes with two sponges and is available in five colors. Our experts found that Grout Bully goes on easily but that the "paint" was difficult to remove and left behind a film stuck to the tiles. The Grout Bully overpowered the mildew at first but it grew back within 12 days.

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Groutinator, also sold for $10, comes in the form of two blue erasers that work like sand paper to scrape off mildew. But our experts found that removing mildew wasn't easy or quick and the erasers' edges had to be constantly sharpened, especially when used on narrow grout lines. The Groutinator was no terminator—the mildew grew back in two weeks.

If it takes that much effort to restore the sparkle, you might as well resort to a sponge and our top-rated all-purpose cleaner, Pine-Sol Original. Hands down the best all-purpose cleaner in our tests, it tackled soap scum, ketchup, concentrated grape juice, and more without streaking. Or check out dedicated tub and tile cleaners from Comet, Ajax and Kaboom, which have typically done well in our tests.

--Izabela Rutkowski

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