Grout Haze Cleaning Is Easy To Do With Special Cleaner

Cleaning Grout Haze dv1449003
Getty / Alex Wilson

Grout haze is a semi-white film left on the surface of tile after grouting. Even if you have diligently wiped down the surface with a wet sponge, haze will remain and will not come off until you take special measures. Regular floor cleaning will not remove it.

Removing grout haze is not a fun task. Your pain should be tempered by knowing that a "miracle" product makes this task a breeze--grout haze remover.

Bottom Line

  • Grout haze is a byproduct of installing tile. While tile may develop a haze after tiling, this is most likely soap scum or dirt. Haze is related only to the process of tiling.
  • Haze is grout that has filmed over the surface of the tile.
  • Haze can only be cleaned with a special cleaner. Cleaning with normal household cleaners such as 409 will not remove the haze.
  • Wait until the grout has hardened before you begin trying to remove the haze. If the grout is wet, you risk gouging it out.
  • Physically removing as much grout from the surface prior to haze cleaning is key to making the cleaner work.

What Causes Grout Haze

If you have ever seen a ring on pool tile, you have visual evidence of how residual minerals are left after water has dried.

It is the same with grout after tile installation. Grout is made of minerals and cement mixed with water. When the water dries, minerals remain on the tile surface.

Residual grout haze is a normal part of tiling; because grouting involves smearing grout across the tile with a rubber float, the tile is entirely covered with grout at some point.

Do These Things Before Using Haze Remover

Removing haze is really a multi-step process. If you get the earlier steps wrong, it is like a domino effect--everything else down the line becomes that much harder.

1. Thoroughly Cleaning With Float

Physically drag off as much grout as possible with your gum rubber float. The more grout that remains, the more of a haze problem you will have.

The rubber float is your best friend because it is soft enough to drag the grout off but hard enough that its edge will not dig into your grouted seams.

Use the edge of the rubber float to pull it towards you and off the tile.

2. Wiping Down With Damp (Water Only) Sponge

Use a tiling sponge for this step, not a household cleaning sponge. Tiling sponges are dense and about the size of a big paperback book.

Lightly dampen the sponge and wipe off remaining grout. Be careful not to dig into the seams.

Caution: at first, it seems like the wet sponge will take off the grout haze, but that is only because the surface of the tile is wet. As the tile dries, the haze will reappear. This means it is time for haze remover.

What To Get

Grout haze remover is widely available at any tile store, home improvement store, or hardware store, or online.

Be careful not to confuse grout sealer or grout cleaner with grout haze remover.

  •  DuPont Heavy Duty Grout Haze Remover Quart: Highly rated, reasonably priced professional strength grout haze remover that makes 9 quarts.
  •  SCI 1 Gallon Tile & Grout Haze Cleaner: Highly acidic pH strips tile of grout haze, as well as soap scum and calcium build-up.

How to Use It

  1. Start cleaning after the grout has cured. If you try to clean prior to curing, you risk dislodging the grout and creating a mess whose only solution is to re-grout the tile. Do not wait more than 10 days.
  2. Clean the tile similar to the way you would wet-mop a floor, the only difference being that you will be on your hands and knees with a sponge, rather than wielding a mop.
  3. Add about 3 oz. grout haze cleaner per 1 gallon of lukewarm water. Dampen the sponge and pull diagonally across the tile. Repeat as needed. Change out water/cleaner solution when water is murky.
  4. Did you wait more than 10 days? Simply use the cleaner at full strength. If you encounter areas that have much haze, let the full-strength solution sit on the hazed areas for ten or fifteen minutes before wiping off.

    Alternative: Organic Methods

    Some homeowners recommend a solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup ammonia, 1 cup baking soda, and 2 quarts of water.