Wondering how to clean tiles after grouting? Grout is everywhere. It’s between the tiles in kitchens, on floors, in the bathroom, around bathtubs—you get the idea.
And let’s face it. If not done right, grout is easy to stain, prone to mold, and after a few years, it almost always starts to crack, or worse, chip away. That makes grout an eyesore.
We use grout as a lateral adhesive because it's needed to hold tiles together. But grouting can leave behind a white haze on porcelain or marble tiles. With this guide, you can eliminate this unsightly haze that ruins the finish.
Cleaning grout stains can be an arduous task, especially if they are stubborn, which they get if you let it dry for too long.
We’ll first explain what grout is, how it sets, and follow that up with methods to remove excess so that your tiles can sparkle and shine.
Grout is a mixture of cement, water, and sand. It is used to reinforce tiles by filling in the narrow gaps between them.
Without grout, your tiles are not fully immobilized, and this can make for a hazard-prone floor. It is thus crucial to add this layer of finishing to ensure tiles remain put.
Grout is usually smeared across the tiles during grouting, after which it is left to dry. And since grout is a mixture of minerals and water, a cloudy mineral residue begins to show once the water dries up.
You’ll start to notice it a couple of days after the new tiles have been installed. Since the mixture has cement, which we all know is a robust binding agent, it won’t be easy to remove.
But it is do-able with these methods.
First things first. Before you start cleaning the tiles, here are few things that you need to keep in mind:
#1. Ensure that the grout has hardened completely. You want the tile surface to be completely dry before you start cleaning it.
#2. Do not, however, wait longer than ten days for the grout to harden. Any longer and the grout will become more challenging to remove. And no, you can’t just hack it off as you run the risk of damage to your tiles.
#3. If you have applied an epoxy-based grout, you will require a commercial strength cleaner to remove the stains, as epoxy-based grout is designed for maximum sturdiness. It is thus resistant to ordinary cleaning products. We recommend either checking the packaging or contacting the manufacturer to get the details.
#4. What is your tile made of? Most flooring tiles are made from glazed ceramics. But in case you have porous stone or slate tiles, you can’t use acidic cleaning agents like vinegar. So, before you start, determine your tile material and the right cleaning method for it.
Porcelain is a white vitrified ceramic used to make tiles. While it may be superheated silica and clay and hence very durable, you cannot afford to hack it. So then how to remove dried grout from porcelain tile?
Cleaning porcelain requires special care. It is not advised to chip away grout with a razor or putty knife as you run the risk of tarnishing the tile’s finish.
A lot of people wonder if cleaning grout off tiles with vinegar might work.
Vinegar is an excellent stain remover and works on lots of surfaces. However, acidic products can, at times, damage various types of tile finishes, so it’s best to use vinegar in moderation.
Here are some DIY methods that work best with porcelain tiles.
How to Remove Grout Haze from Porcelain Tile?
Let us now learn how you can remove grout haze from your porcelain tile without much effort. We have mentioned a few methods, you can use whichever you feel is perfect for you!
Step #1: Create the Solution
Create a sugar solution by mixing sugar with hot water in the ratio of a cup for each gallon and stir until the sugar dissolves completely.
Step #2: Spread the Solution Across the Tiles
Pour the sugar-water mixture all over the tiles, including over the grout that needs to be removed. Let the grout soak the water for an hour or two before you proceed to the cleaning.
Step #3: Scraping the Tile
After the tiles have absorbed enough water, you can begin the cleaning process. Use a wooden paint stick to scrape the surface along with the grout gently.
This should help you remove the larger grout protrusions. This process is tiresome, so expect to spend a little time and a lot of elbow grease on this step.
Step #4: Finish with Detailed Scrubbing
Once you’ve taken the larger pieces off, use a nylon scouring pad to scrub the surface to remove the remaining grout haze.
If the grout isn’t coming off despite your best efforts, you can add some more sugar to induce friction for more aggressive yet tile-friendly cleaning. It’s best to avoid using metal scrubbers in this step as they’re too abrasive and can damage the finishing.
Step #5: Rinse, Wipe and if Needed, Repeat
Rinse out the tiles with cold water and wipe dry with a towel. If you see any more grout residue, you can try repeating the process until you’re satisfied.
Do not clean with vinegar if your tiles are made from slate or stone, as you run the risk of discoloring your tiles.
Step #1: Create a Vinegar Solution
Vinegar isn’t a strong acid, to begin with as it has a pH of about 6, which is fairly close to neutral. Even still, it is advisable to dilute it with water to minimize its acidic effects.
By mixing one part vinegar with four parts water, you will have a large quantity of tile-safe solutions.
Step #2: Apply to Tiles
Apply your vinegar solution by spraying the surface or dipping a sponge in the solution and squeezing it over the affected area. The acidity of the vinegar will slowly eat away at the excess grout.
Don’t leave the solution on for too long, though, as it will damage your grout joints too. About an hour should be long enough.
Step #3: Clean with Nylon Pad or scrubber
Scrub across the grout thoroughly to scrape off large chunks first. You may have to rinse and repeat this step a couple of times to remove the cloudy haze.
No matter how painful it may seem to soak, scrub, rinse and repeat, don’t leave the vinegar solution on for too long. That’s something to remember whenever you’re cleaning grout off tile with vinegar.
Epoxy-based grout joints do a tremendous job at tile binding but leave behind a potent stain that home solutions can’t remove. There is no point cleaning grout off tile with vinegar if it’s epoxy-based.
At this juncture, it’s best to enlist the help of a commercial cleaner. If the tiles are made from slate or stone, it’s safer to use a specially formulated commercial product.
Industrial grout removers can have a strong odor. So, remember to wear masks and rubber gloves while handling it for safety. And since the cleaner will have some acid, watering it down before applying it to tiles is a perfectly suitable option if you find that it is too strong.
Remember to check the instructions on removing dried grout haze from porcelain tile with a commercial product. It should be on the label or inside the packaging as a separate leaflet.
Don’t worry, though, as the process is not complicated. With most of these cleaners, you only need to apply, leave to soak, and scrape the way we described earlier.
If you are planning on re-tiling or reinforcing tile strength through grouting, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to reduce hazing in the first place.
Here are some tips for how you can fix most of the haze problem right after or during installation:
While grouting, you can use a rubber float to drag off excess grout. Rubber floats are perfect for this task because their soft surface can collect grout without damaging the grouted joints.
Use a damp tiling sponge to wipe down the tiles. If the grout is made from cement, it will easily latch onto the sponge. Be careful not to clean out the seams.
The tile may seem clean after the sponge wipe, but that’s only because the floor is still wet. Once it dries, the haze might become more apparent.
However, it will be less than before owing to this added cleaning step. You can then follow the steps mentioned above to remove the little grout haze that remains.