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I Feel Like I've Tried Everything- How Do I Remove Haze or Deposits from Ceramic Tile?

dwighttbp's picture

It would be fantacstic if someone has some experience with this and can help me out.  We have ceramic tile in our walk-in shower that we had a contractor build about a year and a half ago.  At the time of construction I took out the grout haze with the diluted use of "Professional Grade Cleaner for Grout, Tile and Non-Polished Marble, Granite and Other Natural Stone" made by Miracle Sealants Company.  I had to be careful not to let the solution get back into the grout. It took a while and a lot of elbow grease but it worked.  

After about eight months or so we noticed a light haze forming on the darker tiles which make up the floor and two walls of the shower.  I'm sure it was everywhere but just not visible on the lighter tiles (note to self for future reference).  I assumed it was soap scum but regular cleaners would not take it off.  Then assuming it was deposits from our water (we have well water and an iron filter) I went back to the Professional Grade Cleaner for Grout...etc. because it said it would remove hard water and effloresence deposits.  That did not work used as before so I tried it diluted a little less and still no difference.  The second time I used it with the stronger solution I also scrubbed the sanded siliconized acrylic latex caulking we have around the bottom course of the wall tiles because it was discoloring (dark) for some reason.  Well that was a bad idea because after rinsing and towling off everthing the haze was actually a little worse than it was before and even appeared in areas where there was no haze before. My theory is that by using the acid solution on the caulking I managed to mobilize some of the caulking and now that is also deposited on the tile (?).

I asked the guys at the tile store who suggested I try mineral spirits, which did not work.  I've also tried white vinegar and acetone.

One possibly important piece of information is that I can scrape this haze/deposits off the tile with the point of an exacto-knife.  It's not easy to do, but I tried it in a little inconspicuous spot and I see white flakes coming off the tile and it leaves the tile its original color.

Sorry for the long message.  Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can get this haze off our ceramic tiles?  I can include a photo or two if that would help.


If it's hard water buildup (post #204421, reply #1 of 5)

If it's hard water buildup you need an acid to remove it.  Acid should never be used on marble, so any product that claims to be good for marble will not be good for this job. 

Start with plain white vinegar.  Wet the grout first, and try to minimize the amount of acid that hits the grout, as the acid will attack the grout to a degree (but not so bad if you wet the grout first).

If white vinegar doesn't work, try an acid-based tile cleaner, or dilute muratic acid.

Note that many tile cleaners contain bleach, which does no good cleaning tile, lightens colored grout, and damages silicone caulk.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Thanks very much for the (post #204421, reply #3 of 5)

Thanks very much for the suggestions.  Unfortunately, vinegar, acid tile cleaners, muratic acid, acetone, are are the things I've tried with no success.  

I was hoping there would be some other options to try.  Does anyone have any additional suggestions?  

Judging from my experience, the uncertainty I got from the guys in our local tile store, and the reply to my posting by "florida", this may be a more difficult problem to find a solution for than I once thought.

If acid doesn't do it then (post #204421, reply #4 of 5)

If acid doesn't do it then it's not hard water deposit.  But you say you can scrape it off with a razor scraper, so it's not that the tile is etched somehow.  That suggests to me (by process of elimination) that it's residual grout haze, from your (I presume) "modified" grout.  So another shot with the grout haze remover is likely in order.

(But, just for grins, you might try hydrogen peroxide -- straight 2-3% drugstore grade.  Avoid the grout if colored (wet with water first) and place pieces of doubled paper towel on the individual tiles, soaked with peroxide, for 5-10 minutes.  That would eliminate most soap scum films.)

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Great- thanks!  I'll try (post #204421, reply #5 of 5)

Great- thanks!  I'll try those options and let you know what happens.

Good luck. I have the same (post #204421, reply #2 of 5)

Good luck. I have the same problem and have tried everything including a 5" orbital sander as a last resort. I've used alcholol, acid, commercial grade Lime Away, Ajax on a buffing pad, you name it and I've used it. Nothing has worked. If you find somethng that works please post it here.

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 50 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.