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 but is made much easier and more effective with the right grout haze remover, a specialty cleaner that helps get rid of grout haze that can be hard to see and even harder to remove.
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.
Tips for Minimizing Grout Haze
If you're in the planning stage of installing new tile, or you're thinking about regrouting existing tile, keep a few things in mind to minimize the grout haze problem after installation:
- Wait until the grout has hardened before you begin trying to remove the haze. If the grout is wet, you risk gouging it out.
- When grouting, 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 joints. Use the edge of the rubber float to pull it toward you and off the tile.
- Wipe down the tiles with a damp sponge and only water. 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 the remaining grout. Be careful not to dig into the seams.
- Note that initially it may seem 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.
Choosing Grout Haze Remover
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. A couple of well-known brands are DuPont and SCI:
- 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 buildup.
- Aqua Mix Cement Grout Haze Remover: Organic acid formula that contains no phosphates.
Grout remover comes in different formulas for cement-based grouts and non-cement-based grouts. Cement grouts are the standard type used in most household applications and include both sanded and unsanded grout. Non-cement grouts include epoxy, urethane, and premixed grouts as well as other specialty formulations. Be sure to use the appropriate type of haze remover for your grout.
Tools and Supplies You Will Need
- Broom or vacuum
- Two buckets
- Nitrile gloves
- Grout haze remover
- White nylon brush
Wait for the Grout to Cure
Wait at least 10 days for newly installed grout to cure before using grout haze remover. After 10 days, it is best to remove the haze as soon as possible because the haze becomes more difficult to remove with time.
Clean the Floor
Sweep or vacuum the floor thoroughly, then wet-mop the tile to dampen it.
Mix the Grout Haze Remove
Put on nitrile (chemical-resistant) gloves. Mix the haze remover with water in a clean bucket, following the manufacturer's directions. A normal dilution is used for light haze; a stronger solution or full-strength (undiluted) product may be recommended for heavy residue. Fill a second bucket with clear rinse water.
Scrub the Tiles
Dip a white, nylon-bristle brush into the remover solution and scrub the tile faces. Work in small areas at a time.
Rinse and Repeat
Rinse the tile faces and grout joints with a sponge and clear water immediately after scrubbing each section. Clean the sponge frequently as you work, and replace the rinse water as it gets dirty. Repeat the same process to scrub and rinse each small section of floor until the entire tile installation is clean. Let the floor dry.