How to Remove Cement and Grout Haze From Tiles

by Drew Henry

Tiles are a great way to add a pop of color and design to a room. People spend a lot of time and care choosing the perfect tile– whether they’re used for flooring, as a backsplash on the wall, or to cover a countertop.

But sometimes, the tiles don’t turn out as expected. They may look hazy or cloudy – this is called grout haze, and it’s common after new tiles are placed. There are several ways to eliminate the haze: wiping with water or vinegar, scrubbing with a rubber float, or using chemical cleaners. 

Keep reading for more details and to make sure you use the right method for your tiles to avoid damaging them!

What Is Grout Haze?

Does your tile look a little hazy? If you've noticed that your tile looks like it's covered in a cloudy film that you can't clean off, it may be a grout haze. 

The hazy or cloudy patches are residual dried grout. Grout haze is very common after tile installation.

It doesn't mean the job was done incorrectly; it just needs a little cleanup. Luckily, it's an easy problem to fix.

What Causes Grout Haze?

Hazy or cloudiness on new tiles is caused by the installation process – specifically by the grouting. Grout is a mixture of water, minerals, and concrete used to hold tiles in place. 

You can see grout in the spaces between tiles; during installation, it also gets spread over the tiled surface to ensure a complete seal. Afterward, the excess is removed, and the tiles are cleaned.

Sometimes, a thin layer of watered-down grout may remain after the cleaning step. The water evaporates over time, leaving all the minerals mixed into the grout, which creates the hard-to-clean, cloudy appearance known as grout haze.

How to Remove Grout Haze From Different Types of Tiles

The first step to removing the haze is to figure out what type of tile you have. The cleaning process will vary slightly depending on the material, as some cleaners or scrubbers can damage certain tiles. The three most popular tile varieties are cement, porcelain, and ceramic. 

Cement Tiles

There are several ways to clean cement tiles. All of these methods are also safe for porcelain and ceramic tiles. 

The first – and most gentle – method is the cheesecloth approach. Wet the cloth, wring out excess water, and wipe the surface until the haze is gone. Choosing a soft, non-abrasive cloth is important to prevent scratching the tile surface. 

Cheesecloths or terry cloth work best. Always try this approach first, no matter what type of tile you have. 

If wiping with a cheesecloth or terry cloth isn't enough, it's time to break out the rubber float. This tool is used during installation to wipe away excess grout; it looks like a large squeegee. 

Rub the float back and forth over the damped surface until it clears up. Clean the area with a heavy-duty sponge and buff it with a soft cloth.

If neither of these approaches works, you can use 220 grit sandpaper and some water to lightly buff the grout haze off the top layer of the tiles. Since cement tiles have about ⅛” through body color, you may use a palm sander or gently sand by hand. Tiles must be resealed after sanding.

Porcelain Tiles

The above cleaning methods (except for sanding) will also work for porcelain tiles, but for porcelain tiles with a glazed finish, you can use slightly harsher methods. Believe it or not, vinegar is a great cleaning agent – and it works here too. If your porcelain tiles are unglazed, make sure you’re using a product that’s safe for your tile. 

Start by combining four parts water and one part white vinegar (hint: add more vinegar to increase the cleaner's strength). Pour into a bucket or spray bottle and apply the water and vinegar mixture to the tile surface. 

Scrub the area using a cloth, nylon pad, or a mop. When you're done, clean the area with water until the vinegar smell fades. 

Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles are very durable. If your ceramic tiles are glazed, they can stand up to harsher cleaning products. You can use all the previous methods on glazed ceramic tile (except sanding), including vinegar. If your tiles are unglazed, you’ll want to avoid certain cleaning methods, so make sure the method you go for is safe for your specific tiles. 

If all else fails, it is time to try heavier-duty cleaning products. Be sure to verify that the cleaner you buy is compatible and safe to use with both your specific tile and your grout. 

Always be careful when using a commercial cleaner – use a face mask and rubber gloves, and open any windows or doors to help with ventilation. Be sure to read and follow all instructions before using the product. 

Use the cleaner according to the product instructions, and say goodbye to grout haze!

Preventing Grout Haze in the First Place

While grout haze is pretty common on new tiles and fairly easy to remove, it's also fairly easy to prevent. If you're planning to install tiles with a little DIY, try these tips to prevent grout haze:

  • When grouting tiles, work in small patches. Doing so allows you to wipe away most of the excess grout before it can dry.
  • Use two buckets when laying tile – one for clean water and one for wringing out the sponge. Only use clean water when wiping away excess grout.
  • If you notice haze after installation, let the grout cure completely before you put any water on it.
  • If haze does appear, don't let it sit for more than ten days. It will cure on the tile surface and require much harsher methods to remove.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Remove Dried Haze From Tiles?

If there’s dried haze on your tiles, it's likely caused by leftover grout. First, try removing it by wiping the area with water and a soft cloth – if that doesn’t work, try using a rubber float. You can use vinegar or a chemical cleaner for certain tiles, but make sure any cleaning solution you use is safe for your specific tiles first.

How Do You Remove Dried Haze From Tiles?

Cloudiness on tiles can have many causes. If you aren’t able to remove it with traditional cleaning methods, the cloudiness may be caused by grout haze – in this case, try using cleaning products specifically formulated to remove grout haze. It’s also important to check that the cleaner is compatible with your tile.

How Does Vinegar Remove Grout Haze?

Vinegar is a great cleaning product. Vinegar is so effective because it contains acetic acid, which breaks down dirt, oils, and other materials. However, vinegar can also damage surfaces, so ensure it’s safe to use with your tiles first and always use a test patch. 

Looking for New Tiles? Shop LiLi Tile!

Grout haze – a foggy film on newly placed tile – is a common nuisance caused by grout residue. There are several methods to remove it, depending on what type of tile you have. Make sure you use a method that’s appropriate for your tiles to avoid damaging them. 

LiLi Tilehas a wide selection of tiles for you to choose from. Check out our collections today!

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