How to Clean Grout Haze

Grout haze cleaned off white tiled wall with white sponge and teal gloves

The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 2 - 4 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 day, 2 hrs - 2 days, 4 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10 to $20

Grout haze is a whiteish film left on the tile surface after the grouting process. Even if you have diligently wiped down the surface with a wet sponge, the haze will remain and won't come off until you take special measures.

Ordinary tile cleaning methods won't remove it. Fortunately, getting grout haze off tile is easy and effective with the right remover.

What Causes Grout Haze

Grout is made of minerals and cement mixed with water. When the water dries, minerals remain on the tile surface. This is a normal part of tiling.

Because grouting involves pulling grout across the tile with a rubber float, the tile is entirely covered with grout at some point. The float scrapes off most of the grout, but a thin film will remain—known as grout haze.

What is Grout Haze Remover?

Grout haze remover is a specialty commercial cleaner that helps to get rid of grout haze—especially in substantial or difficult cases. Grout haze remover comes in different formulas for cement-based grouts and those that aren't cement-based. Be careful not to confuse grout sealer or grout cleaner with grout haze remover. These are completely different products.

Commercial Grout Haze Remover

Grout haze remover is widely available at tile stores, home improvement stores, hardware stores, and online. Prominent brands include:

  • DuPont Heavy Duty Grout Haze Remover: A highly rated and reasonably priced professional strength grout haze remover
  • Stone Care International Tile & Grout Haze Cleaner: Has a highly acidic pH that strips tile of grout haze, as well as soap scum and calcium buildup
  • Aqua Mix Cement Grout Haze Remover: Features an organic acid formula that contains no phosphates

Tip

Urethane and acrylic grouts need specific grout haze removal products. If the haze is not completely removed from the surface, over time, the tile can begin to look dirty and can even be sticky to the touch, even after general cleaning.

Homemade Non-Chemical Grout Haze Remover

If you'd like to make your own grout haze remover and stay chemical-free, vinegar in conjunction with plain water can break up grout haze. Add 3 or 4 parts distilled white vinegar to 1 part cool water in a spray bottle. Mix but do not shake.

When using vinegar to remove grout haze, it's usually necessary to use a non-scratching scrubbing pad to boost the removal process.

Tip

Some new tiles are shipped with grout release, a thin film on the tile surface that protects against grout haze. After installation, the tile is washed as usual, and the grout haze should come off during the washing process. With this type of tile, grout haze remover likely won't be necessary.

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Click Play to Learn How to Clean Grout Haze on a Budget

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Broom or vacuum
  • Mop
  • Nitrile or latex gloves
  • 2 buckets
  • White nylon brush
  • New sponges

Materials

  • Grout haze remover

Instructions

Tools and materials for getting grout haze off tile

The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  1. Wait for Grout to Cure

    Wait for the grout to dry before using grout haze remover. Typically this takes around 24 to 48 hours, but you should consult your grout's packaging for the exact duration.

    However, don't wait too long. It is best to clean grout haze sooner rather than later because the haze will become more difficult to remove with time. Aim to do it within 10 days of grouting. Otherwise, you might have to use harsher cleaners or even be stuck with some haze that doesn't fully go away.

    White tiled wall with cured grout

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  2. Clean the Surface

    Sweep or vacuum the tile thoroughly, and then wet-mop the tile to dampen it.

    White tiled wall with cleaning solution sprayed on

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  3. Mix the Grout Haze Remover

    Put on nitrile (chemical-resistant) or latex gloves. Mix the grout haze remover with water in a clean bucket, following the manufacturer's directions. Normal dilution is used for light haze; a stronger solution or full-strength (undiluted) product might be recommended for heavy residue. Fill a second bucket with clean water for rinsing.

    Grout haze remover bottle held over gray bucket with teal latex gloves

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  4. Scrub the Tiles

    Dip a white, nylon-bristle brush into the remover solution, and scrub the tile surface. Work in one small area at a time.

    Nylon-bristled brush scrubbing grout remover solution on white tiled wall with teal gloves

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  5. Rinse and Repeat

    Rinse the tile surface and grout joints with a sponge and clean 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 the tile surface until the entire installation is clean. Let the surface dry.

    White tiled wall rinsed off with yellow sponge wearing teal gloves

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

    Tip

    If you are working on shower tile, use the hand-held sprayer to wash off the grout haze remover. If your shower does not have a sprayer, you might even want to purchase an inexpensive one just for the purpose of cleaning the grout haze.

Additional Method to Get Grout Haze off Tile

For minor instances of grout haze, you might simply be able to remove it with some cheesecloth. First, put on a pair of nitrile or latex gloves. Then, wet the cheesecloth, wring it out, and wipe down the tile. 

You also can try running a clean rubber grout float over the tile to buff off the haze. Use that in conjunction with the cheesecloth to see whether it removes the residue. If not, you'll need to progress to a grout haze cleaner. 

Tips to Minimize Grout Haze

If you're in the planning stage of installing new tile or 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 rubber grout 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 won't 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 might 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.