Got a white or cloudy residue building up on the surface of your grout lines? That’s grout haze and it can be quite unsightly, especially if the build-up is severe. Fortunately, you can remove grout haze and restore your grout’s original, clean finish. Here’s a complete guide to effective grout haze removal from tile grout.
Why does my grout look cloudy?
Regardless of whether your floor tiles are made of marble, granite, travertine, porcelain, ceramic, or terrazzo; the grout lines between the tiles may sometimes appear white. This can have a diminishing effect on your home’s aesthetic allure. So- you may be wondering, “Where does this white stuff come from?”
Grout- being a cement-based product- contains soluble salts. It’s these salts that sometimes rise to the top of the grout and dry up, leaving behind a cloudy/white powder. This process is known as efflorescence. The calcium salts are able to migrate to the grout surface since grout is a porous material. Efflorescence is usually a symptom of structural moisture issues on your flooring. Excess water that’s trapped beneath the tiling or inside the cementous grout itself dissolves the soluble salts, allowing them to penetrate through the porous grout to the surface.
Another reason why cloudy haze forms on grout is due to the prior application of non-breathing sealer on the grout lines. When the sealer pools up and dries on the grout, instead of penetrating through the grout to seal its capillaries, cloudy sealer haze forms on the surface of the grout. Reasons for sealer penetration failure include presence of moisture in the grout or use of a water-based, rather than a solvent-based sealer. Sealer haze is much more noticeable when your grout has a dark finish.
How to remove grout haze
Removing grout haze using water and cheesecloth
- Before starting the grout cleaning process, ensure you’ve got on the appropriate protective apparel- including hand gloves and a face mask.
- Next, dip the cheesecloth in water and wring it thoroughly. You want the cheesecloth to only be slightly moist, as excess moisture may damage the grout and even exacerbate the grout haze problem. Meanwhile, if you don’t have a cheesecloth, you can use a nylon pad or terry cloth instead.
- Lightly wipe along the tiles’ grout lines to remove all the cloudy haze. You can use tissue paper or dry wipes to soak up any excess moisture left along the grout lines after you’ve passed through them with the damp cheesecloth.
Removing grout haze using rubber grout float
Remember the rubber grout float tool that you used during tile installation to fill in the spaces between the tiles with grout? Still got it? If so- it’s time to bring it out and put it to work again. This tool is narrow enough to fit the grout lines and strip the grout haze off the grout. Simply follow the procedure detailed below to use it correctly:
- Drag the soft edge of the float tool across the tile grout lines to get rid of grout haze without scratching the grout surface.
- Once done, use a moist tiling sponge to go through the grout line. The sponge will pick up the already-dislodged grout haze from the floor.
- Finish off by buffing the entire floor surface-particularly the grout lines- with a cheesecloth.
Removing grout haze using vinegar
Vinegar is also effective at getting rid of grout haze on ceramic and porcelain tiles. Simply follow the procedure below:
- Create a vinegar solution by mixing white vinegar with water in a ratio of 1:4 inside a container.
- Transfer the solution into a spray bottle. Then, spray the solution onto a nylon pad and wring it.
- Next, wipe along the haze-filled grout lines with the nylon pad. Since vinegar is acidic, it will cut through the soluble mineral deposits causing the cloudy haze.
- Once done, run through the grout lines using a well-wrung wet mop dipped in water. This will eliminate any excess vinegar solution still on the grout lines.
Note: Never use vinegar on natural stone tile surfaces such as granite or terrazzo, as vinegar’s acidity can cause permanent acid-etching on these porous surfaces.
Removing grout haze using dish soap and water
Just like vinegar, a soap dish solution is another home-made grout haze cleaning alternative. Try this method if you’re working on a budget or are too busy to go get a commercial cleaner:
- Mix a drop of mild dishwashing detergent with 3-4 cupfuls of water inside a small container.
- Dip a nylon pad inside the cleaning solution, wring it, and wipe over the cloudy grout lines to remove the haze.
- Undertake a repeat application if you still have haze left on the grout lines after you’ve gone over the entire floor the first time.
- Finish off by dipping a mop in clean water, wringing it thoroughly, and using it to rinse over the grout lines and get rid of any residual soap dish solution.
Removing grout haze using a commercial grout haze remover
- Purchase a good-quality grout haze remover that can effectively strip tiles surfaces of calcium buildup.
- Prep the surface by cleaning it using a dry mop/broom followed by a wet mop. Alternatively, you can vacuum the floor surface.
- Put on safety gear including chemical-resistant hand-gloves and a face mask.
- Make a haze cleaning solution by mixing the haze remover with water as per the brand manufacturer’s guidelines. However, if there’s significant grout haze buildup, you may have to use the remover in its concentrated form to get rid of all the haze.
- Next, dip a nylon scrubbing brush into the cleaning solution and go over the tile grout lines.
- Once done, use a damp piece of cloth to rise the grout lines and remove any excess cleaning solution.
Precautions to follow before removing grout haze
Let the grout harden fully
Sometimes, cloudy grout haze may appear even before the grout is completely dry. Attempting to remove grout haze on such wet grout will cause gouging or scratching. To avoid this, wait for a full day for the grout to fully cure before undertaking grout haze removal.
Remove grout haze within 10 days of appearance
The longer grout haze stays on your grout, the more it hardens, and the more effort it’ll take to fully get rid of it. You should- therefore- consider undertaking grout mineral removal within the first 10 days of spotting it. This will lessen the labor requirements on your part, as nobody wants to spend the whole day on the floor removing tough/stubborn grout haze.
Consider the type of grout on your floor
Grout haze that forms on epoxy-based grout is typically harder to eliminate due to the way it is designed. As such, a strong commercial cleaner meant for use on this kind of grout can get the job effectively done. Avoid using homemade haze removal solutions if you’ve got epoxy grout. They’ll most likely leave you frustrated with minimal success.
Consider your tile material
Avoid using acid-based haze removal solutions like vinegar on porous, stone tile surfaces. You can however use acid solutions on smooth, impermeable tile surfaces like porcelain and ceramic.