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What’s Wrong with My Grout?

General,Newsletter

Grout-Cleaning Why Did My Grout Turn White? Grout turning white is usually due to efflorescence, which the movement of salt or minerals to the surface of porous material (such as your grout) and forms a whitish coating. This can happen in a few different ways. The most common reason is moisture from the ground below the slab, but grout may also turn white from the rain in outdoor installations, or in rare cases, from water used to clean the floor.

Another possibility is that grout containing polymer was used and exposed to too much water before the polymers had a chance to combine. According to the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), “grout mixed with too much water or cleaned too soon, or cleaned with excess water can cause the polymer to migrate to the surface. In many cases (but not all), these polymers are white. When the excess water evaporates, the white polymer is exposed.”

Finally, in less common cases, the grout may turn white because cleaning agents are not entirely removed, leaving a detergent residue that builds up over time. Most times, residue from cleansers aren’t visible, but it can combine with light-colored soil and cause a coating over the grout because of the grout’s porosity.

How Can I Fix Efflorescence?

Let’s start with the not-so-good news; the most effective ways to address efflorescence (natural water-soluble salts that occur when cement-based material cure) are done before the tile floor being installed. The tile contractor should consider a vapor equalization membrane or remediation steps as the TCNA states if there is a continuous emergence of moisture detected on the slab. After tiling, a good measure is to apply a penetrating vapor-permeable sealer, which can help delay the efflorescence rate.

So now that your tile floor is already installed, and your grout has turned white let’s take a look at how to best address it. The TCNA suggests, “Generally efflorescence is removed with acid. However, grout manufacturers do not advocate the use of acids because they may attack the cement in the grout.

Used judiciously, though, this can be a highly effective way of removing efflorescence. Extreme care should be used to protect the person applying the acid and surrounding fixtures. Also, an acid that is too strong can strip some color out of grout (which is also undesirable), and acid generally cannot be used if acrylic sealers have already been applied to the grout.”

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At D&B Tile, we recommend that you used a licensed professional for this type of work. At our stores, we carry the complete line OMNI Sealer products, and one or more of those high-quality products should remove your efflorescence.

If the tile surrounds your grout is non-acid sensitive, such as ceramic or porcelain, we recommend OMNI Efflorescence Remover. This product is formulated with a proprietary surfactant that helps break the bond the efflorescence has on your grout, while the blend of buffered acids helps dissolve the efflorescence.

It is important to note that efflorescence can return as those naturally occurring salts are exposed to moisture. But, experience has shown that application steps detailed below can help inhibit or minimize the reoccurrence of efflorescence as the “double” application technique helps Efflorescence Remover reach the source of the efflorescence.

Efflorescence Remover Application Steps:

  1. Sweep or vacuum surface to be cleaned to remove any loose
  2. Apply a small amount of water to the surface to be cleaned.
  3. Apply Efflorescence Remover liberally using a SpongaUSA™ sponge or a mop, paint-pad applicator, paint roller, brush, or low-pressure pump sprayer.
  4. Allow Efflorescence Remover to dwell for up to 10 minutes on the surface.
  5. Apply a second ”double” coat of Efflorescence Remover in the same manner as step #3.
  6. Allow the second coat of Efflorescence Remover to dwell on the surface for up to 10
  7. Agitate with a Primo Tools™ White Nylon Scrub Pad or another comparable non-marring scrubbing tool until efflorescence is removed from the
  8. Thoroughly rinse the surface with water. A wet/dry vacuum may also be
  9. Some surfaces may require additional
    • Expert Tip: High-pressure (1000 – 3000 psi) sprayers are highly capable of rinsing away efflorescence stains when used in conjunction with Efflorescence Remover.
  10. Wipe surface completely dry using a clean, dry, white cotton or microfiber
  11. If the surface is to be sealed, allow 24 hours drying time before applying a high-quality OMNI Sealer.

If the tile surrounds your grout is acid sensitive, such as marble or limestone, we recommend OMNI Elite Cleaner. This product is also formulated with a proprietary surfactant that helps break the bond the efflorescence has on your grout, and it has nano-size scrubbing particles that provide dep, below surface cleaning as well as mild surface abrasion to help remove efflorescence from your grout. Elite Cleaner is non-acid.

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Elite Cleaner Application Steps:

  1. Shake well before each
  2. Sweep or vacuum surface to be cleaned to remove any loose
  3. Apply Elite Cleaner liberally on the surface to be cleaned directly from the bottle or with a SpongaUSA™ sponge, or a brush or scrub machine.
  4. Allow Elite Cleaner to dwell on the surface for up to 5 minutes.
  5. Agitate with a Primo Tools™ White Nylon Scrub Pad, or a brush or other comparable non-marring scrubbing tool until efflorescence is removed.
  6. Thoroughly rinse the surface with water. A wet/dry vacuum may also be
  7. Some surfaces may require additional applications.
    • Expert Tip: High-pressure (1000–3000 psi) sprayers are highly capable of rinsing away contaminants and stains when used in conjunction with Elite Cleaner.
  8. Wipe surface completely dry using a clean, dry, white cotton or microfiber
  9. If the surface is to be sealed, allow 24 hours drying time before applying a high-quality OMNI Sealer.

At D&B Tile, we always recommend you test all products in a small inconspicuous area to determine the suitability of the application and desired results.

How Do I Fix Polymer Residue?

“For removing a whitish residue from polymer migration, solvents or strong cleaners are needed. As many different polymers could have been used in the grout, anyone cleaner may have more or less efficacy,” the TCNA recommends.

You can visit any of our nine South Florida D&B Tile showrooms and talk to our tile experts who will be happy to help you determine which solvent is best for your application. At our stores, we carry the complete line OMNI Sealer products, and one or more of those high-quality products should remove your polymer residue.

If the polymer resides is on your grout and/or a non-acid tile, such as ceramic or porcelain, we recommend OMNI Cement Grout Haze Remover. This product is formulated with a proprietary surfactant that helps break the bond the polymer residue has on your grout and/or tile. In contrast, the blend of buffered acids helps dissolve the polymer residue.

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Cement Grout Haze Remover Application Steps:

  1. Sweep or vacuum surface to be cleaned to remove any loose
  2. Apply a small amount of water to the surface to be cleaned.
  3. Apply Cement Grout Haze Remover liberally on polymer residue using a SpongaUSA™ sponge, or a mop, paint-pad applicator, paint roller, or brush.
  4. Allow Cement Grout Haze Remover to dwell for up to 10 minutes on the surface.
  5. Agitate with a Primo Tools™ White Nylon Scrub Pad or another comparable non-marring scrubbing tool until efflorescence is removed from the surface.
  6. Thoroughly rinse the surface with water. A wet/dry vacuum may also be
  7. Some surfaces may require additional
    • Expert Tip: High-pressure (1000 – 3000 psi) sprayers are highly capable of rinsing away polymer residue when used in conjunction with Cement Grout Haze Remover.
  8. Wipe surface completely dry using a clean, dry, white cotton or microfiber
  9. If the surface is to be sealed, allow 24 hours drying time before applying a high-quality OMNI Sealer.

If the tile surrounds your grout is acid sensitive, such as marble or limestone, we recommend OMNI Elite Cleaner. This product is also formulated with a proprietary surfactant that helps break the bond the efflorescence has on your grout, also has nano-size scrubbing particles that provide dep, below surface cleaning as well as mild surface abrasion to help remove polymer residue from your grout and/or tile. Elite Cleaner is non-acid.

Elite Cleaner Application Steps:

  1. Shake well before each
  2. Sweep or vacuum surface to be cleaned to remove any loose
  3. Apply Elite Cleaner liberally on the surface to be cleaned directly from the bottle or with a SpongaUSA™ sponge, or a brush or scrub machine.
  4. Allow Elite Cleaner to dwell on the surface for up to 5 minutes.
  5. Agitate with a Primo Tools™ White Nylon Scrub Pad, or a brush or other comparable non-marring scrubbing tool until polymer resides is removed.
  6. Thoroughly rinse the surface with water. A wet/dry vacuum may also be used
  7. Some surfaces may require additional applications.
    • Expert Tip: High-pressure (1000–3000 psi) sprayers are highly capable of rinsing away polymer residue when used in conjunction with Elite Cleaner.
  8. Wipe surface completely dry using a clean, dry, white cotton or microfiber
  9. If the surface is to be sealed, allow 24 hours drying time before applying a high-quality OMNI sealer.

At D&B Tile, we always recommend you test all products in a small inconspicuous area to determine the suitability of the application and desired results.

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How Do I Fix Detergent Residue?

As this builds up over time, the detergent residue can be annoying, but a little elbow grease will go a long way. D&B Tile recommends OMNI Heavy Duty Cleaner to remove detergent residue. This highly versatile concentrated formulation can be diluted with water to match cleaning needs. It also contains a proprietary surfactant that helps life detergent residue.

Heavy Duty Cleaner Application Steps:

  1. Sweep or vacuum surface to be cleaned to remove any loose
  2. Dilute 1 part Heavy Duty Cleaner with 1 to 2 parts water.
    • Expert Tip: Warm water enhances Heavy Duty Cleaner’s
  3. Liberally apply the cleaning solution to the surface to be cleaned with a SpongaUSA™ sponge or a mop or brush.
  4. Allow the cleaning solution to dwell on the surface for up to 5
  5. Agitate with a Primo Tools™ White Nylon Scrub Pad or a mop, natural-bristle brush, or another comparable non-marring scrubbing tool until the surface is clean.
  6. Mop up dirty solution. A wet/dry vacuum may also be
  7. Thoroughly rinse the surface with water, changing the water at least every 250 sq.
  8. Wipe surface completely dry using a clean, dry, white cotton or microfiber
  9. If the surface is to be sealed, allow 24 hours drying time before applying a high-quality OMNI sealer.

At D&B Tile, we always recommend you test all products in a small inconspicuous area to determine the suitability of the application and desired results.

AO-02-sized What's Wrong with My Grout?

Please remember, D&B Tile Distributors’ goal is to help you through your project from beginning-to-end while ensuring you get a beautiful result. Our team of tile experts goes through consistent training to stay up-to-date on the latest techniques, products, and solutions. We are here to help you, so always feel free to contact us with any of your questions or stop by one of our showrooms, and we’ll walk you through the best options.

Source: TCNA Tile

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