Keep your floors, countertops, and backsplash in top shape with our easy techniques for removing stains from tile.
Because of its durability, tile makes a great material for high-traffic areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. Often used for backsplashes, flooring, and showers, this long-lasting material is generally easy to maintain with regular cleaning. When spills and other accidents happen, however, tile stains can quickly set in and become difficult to remove. Especially in tiled showers, stubborn stains from hard water and rust can also build up over time and might require a deeper cleaning. Use these tips on how to remove stains from tiles to keep your floor or backsplash spotless.
Tile Stain Removal Tips for Ceramic, Porcelain, Slate, and More
Tile can be made from a range of different materials, including ceramic, porcelain, marble, slate, and other varieties of natural stone. Each one has its own guidelines for cleaning and care that are important to consider when removing tile stains. If you’re unsure about the best stain removal method, check with the manufacturer for specific recommendations.
Glazed ceramic and porcelain tile is typically very durable and will stand up well to most tile stain removal techniques. However, stains on natural stone, such as limestone, travertine, or marble tiles, should be treated with extra care. Traditional cleaners often contain chemicals that can damage the surface, so it’s important to use non-abrasive cleaners that are made specifically for natural stone. Avoid using cleaners with acidic ingredients, such as lemon or vinegar, on natural stone, and do not scrub with stiff-bristled brushes that could scratch the surface.
How to Remove Stains from Tiles
Although tile might look and feel impervious to harm, it can be damaged without the proper care. Test your stain-removal technique on an inconspicuous spot of both tile and grout before cleaning. A nonabrasive all-purpose cleaner ($3, Target) or a tub-tile-sink cleaning product ($2, The Home Depot) will usually remove most tile stains. To clean stubborn stains on tile, try the following techniques.
Blood: Dab the stain with a soft cloth dipped in hydrogen peroxide or diluted bleach.
Coffee, tea, or juice: Wash the stain with a mild detergent and hot water, then blot with hydrogen peroxide or diluted bleach.
Gum, wax, or tar: Place ice cubes in a resealable plastic bag and lay the bag over the material you want to remove from the tile. Once the material solidifies, remove as much of it as possible with a crafts stick. Remove any remaining residue with nonflammable paint thinner.
Grease or fat-based stains: Wash the stain with club soda and water or with a non-abrasive floor cleaner.
Ink or dye: Soak a clean cloth with diluted bleach and lay it over the stain. Let the cloth stay in place until the stain disappears. Rinse well.
Iodine: Scrub the iodine stain with diluted ammonia and rinse well.
Nail polish: Dissolve the nail polish stain with nail polish remover. If the stain remains, dab it with hydrogen peroxide or diluted bleach.
How to Remove Hard Water Stains from Tile
In tiled areas in showers and around faucets or sinks, hard water stains can build up with use, creating a filmy residue on the surface. To protect the tile’s finish, do not use abrasive cleaners or scouring powders, which could scratch or scuff the surface. Instead, use vinegar to dissolve the mineral buildup so you can easily wipe it away. (Note: This method should only be used on acid-safe tile surfaces, such as glazed ceramic or glass. It’s not intended for natural stone tile.) Soak a cloth or sponge with vinegar and wipe to wet the surface. After allowing the vinegar to soak on the tile for a few minutes, wipe the area to wet it again. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda onto the tile (it should fizz slightly as it reacts with the vinegar), then gently scrub the surface with a sponge dampened with water. Rinse the area with water to wash away the vinegar and baking soda, and dry the tile immediately with a soft cloth to prevent more water spots from forming.
To remove hard water stains on natural stone tile, use a cleaner specifically made for natural stone surfaces, such as Granite Gold Shower Cleaner ($5, The Home Depot).
How to Remove Rust Stains from Tile
Common in tile showers or on tile floors, rust stains result when metal items on tile surfaces come in contact with moisture for long periods of time. To get rid of these dark orange stains, you can use a combination of simple household ingredients. Mix equal parts lemon juice and borax ($4, Walmart) and apply the paste to the rust stain, gently rubbing it in. Allow the paste to dry, then rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth. If the stain persists, repeat the process until the rust is gone.
A common complaint associated with tile flooring is staining due to kitchen mishaps. These stains can sometimes penetrate the porous finish of ceramic or porcelain and become quite difficult to remove. Usually, bleach and other oxidants are used in these cases to remove stains from ceramic and porcelain tile. However, in the case of deeply saturated stains and hard water marks, bleach doesn’t always work. And it’s not great for grout.
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Steam Cleaning
- Muric acid
Using Hydrogen Peroxide
Use a 3% hydrogen peroxide to remove stains from ceramic and porcelain. For gentle surface cleaning you can make a paste with one part peroxide and two parts baking soda. Apply the paste and let it sit for about 30 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing. You can also pour peroxide directly on stubborn stains.
Steam Cleaning Tile
You can use either a professional-grade steam cleaner or one designed for home use. Steam cleaning is for deep cleaning to remove the embedded dirt detergent residue and bacteria that you can’t see with the naked eye.
First, clean the area as you normally would. Set up the steam cleaner per manufacturer instructions and use the recommended setting for tile. Work in small sections until the area is complete.
Ceramic or Porcelain tiled flooring, in high traffic areas, can remain functional and beautiful, with minimal effort. Featuring Cabot Fiore Series Porcelain Tile in
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Using Muric Acid
Muriatic acid has been regularly used by professionals for decades to treat and remove various types of tough stains from tile and stone surfaces. When used in domestic locations, it is necessary to ventilate the area and to be very careful with this acidic agent. Heavy gloves, eye protection, and mask must be used.
Dilute the acid to at least 1 part acid to 5 parts water, pouring the acid into the water and not the other way around. Apply the mixture and scrub the area with a toothbrush or a soft bristle brush. Once the stain is removed, quickly wash the area and discard the remaining mixture in a safe and proper manner.
Removing Grout Stains
If a persistent stain appears in your grout, you can try removing it by following the same steps mentioned above. However, for grout stains that can’t be removed with a regular procedure, removal of grout from that particular area may be necessary. This can be done quickly and effectively by using a small grout remover, which can be bought from most home improvement stores.
When the stained grout has been removed, there will be a space that needs to be filled. You can take a grout sample to one of your local stores and try to get the closest match. Once you have the material, pour the dry mixture in the cavity you have created. If the color matches to your liking, vacuum the dry mixture out. Make a small batch of grout by following the directions provided on the box. Use a gloved finger to firmly apply the grout to the damaged area. Wipe the area with a clean and damp sponge.
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White ceiling tile can easily become stained. There’s no need to replace the tiles because they can be easily cleaned. Here are some tips to remove these stains.
Keep in mind many of these tips involve using commercial cleaners (such as bleach) which means you’ll likely need to wear gloves and perhaps a face mask while working with them. Do your research ahead of time and read the cleaner’s label carefully for safety instructions.
Home Recipe Mix for White Ceiling Tile Stains
Mix 2 parts bleach with 1 part water in a clean spray bottle. Spray the stain, then wait for 30 minutes. Repeat until the stain disappears.
100% Bleach to Clean White Ceiling Tile
Dip a Q-tip in 100% bleach. Gently swab the stain. Repeat until the stain disappears.
Dry Sponge to Clean White Ceiling Tile
Available at janitorial suppliers, it’s a rubber sponge that’s extremely effective on ceiling tiles when water is not an option.
This all-purpose cleaner is a good choice for tough ceiling stains. Spray on, let sit a few minutes and then wipe away. You should try a small hidden corner as a test.
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
An innovative micro bristle cleaner removes stubborn stains leaving your ceiling sparkling clean.
Updated May 2, 2021
Cleaning tiles around the home is sometimes our last priority. Some of us don’t even notice them! However, ignoring them can lead to a buildup of minerals and limescale, which, let’s be honest, doesn’t look good.
There are different methods for removing hard water from tiles, but it comes down to personal preference. Some methods (like those using harsh chemicals) are best suited for heavier staining.
Table of Contents
- What Causes Hard Water Stains?
- Vinegar and Baking Soda
- Vinegar Soak
- Hydrochloric Acid
- Micro-Abrasive Cleaner
- Tips and Tricks
- Stains Be Gone
What Causes Hard Water Stains?
If you live in an area with hard water, you might be noticing a few signs around your home. Things like reduced water flow, limescale build-up, and cloudy stains on glasses are all caused by hard water (1) .
As you wash your floors or take a shower, the water that’s left on the tiles will evaporate naturally, leaving calcium and magnesium spots behind (2) . Over time, these spots can build up and become more difficult to remove. Common areas for water spots are on tile flooring and walls, and the area around the shower or bath drain.
Vinegar and Baking Soda
1. Make a Paste
Start by mixing equal parts of vinegar and baking soda in a bowl or container. This mixture creates a mildly abrasive solution that should get hard water stains out quickly.
The powerful combo is often used to clear drains of mineral buildup. When the two are combined, they exchange molecules and create carbon dioxide bubbles that lift and dissolve the mineral deposits (3) . Additionally, the abrasiveness of baking soda will physically loosen mineral deposits on the grout and tile.
After mixing the combo well, smear the paste on the affected area — you might need to make another batch if you don’t have enough.
Leave the paste to sit for up to 10 minutes, then scrub the tiles and grout with a sponge or brush. Use circular motions as this will help to loosen the buildup.
Rinse the entire area with clean water to get rid of the paste. Finish off by wiping away excess water using a clean cloth or towel — you can also use a squeegee. It’s essential to get the excess water off so it won’t cause new hard water stains.
1. Soak the Area
Start by soaking the area in vinegar, pouring a generous amount on the affected area. Leave to soak for five minutes, then scrub with a sponge or brush and rinse with clean water. You can also soak a cloth in vinegar and then place it on the stained area.
2. Allow to Sit
Leave the cloth for five to 10 minutes. Remove it and scrub with a sponge, then rinse with clean water.
3. Wipe and Dry
Wipe the area with a clean cloth to remove any excess water.
1. Find a Product
Hydrochloric acid is highly abrasive and should be handled with care (4) . It’s best to find a commercial product that contains the acid instead of using a concentrate since this will be less hazardous. An effective product is ZEP Grout and Tile Cleaner.
2. Follow the Instructions and Apply
Read the directions carefully on the label to ensure you’re using the product as it should be. Hydrochloric acid can damage grout and tile if used incorrectly.
Dilute the product as directed or spray it directly onto the affected area if it’s a prediluted formula. Allow the product to sit on the tiles for as long as recommended, then scrub with a sponge.
Rinse the area well with clean water — this is very important to get rid of the acid. Finish off by wiping the tiles and grout with a clean cloth.
For this method, you need a micro-abrasive product, such as Bon Ami. This is a mildly abrasive powder that can be used on kitchen surfaces and on tiles.
1. Make a Paste
Mix equal parts of the powder and water to create a paste. Apply it to the area and leave it to sit for 15 minutes.
2. Rub the Area
Use a damp cloth or sponge to rub the area and get rid of the stains. Rinse thoroughly with water and wipe to dry. If the stains are only mild, sprinkle the powder on and scrub with a damp sponge or cloth.
3. Rinse and Dry
Rinse with clean water when done to remove excess paste. Don’t forget to dry the area, or hard water stains will reform.
Tips and Tricks
Removing hard water stains doesn’t have to be all that difficult. However, as with any other type of stain, it’s essential to act fast. Here are a few extra tips:
- Prevent stains: By preventing hard water stains, you minimize the time and effort required to remove them. After taking a shower or cleaning, rinse the tiles with clean water and wipe with a towel or cloth.
- Use lemon juice: Acid is very effective at cutting through limescale and mineral buildup. Lemon juice is a great alternative to vinegar or hydrochloric acid. Pour a generous amount of juice on the area and leave it for an hour before rinsing.
- Natural stone tiles: When cleaning natural stone tiles, you must avoid acidic cleaners. These can damage and etch the surface. Instead use a neutral detergent and a soft brush to scrub the tiles gently (6) .
Stains Be Gone
We know how frustrating hard water stains are to deal with. Depending on how hard your water is, the buildup can be quite substantial, making it harder to remove. The sooner you clean the area, the better. Don’t forget to rinse and dry the tiles after water exposure to prevent more stains from appearing.
Acid is one of the most effective products you can use on hard water stains. However, this shouldn’t be used on natural stone tiles such as marble and travertine.
Because toilet is in wet state for a long time, plus the invasion of scale and soap scale, ceramic tile is particularly prone to yellowing. In general, we can use toothpaste to clean the yellow stains on ceramic tiles.
First, wipe the yellowing tiles bathroom with a warm towel, then evenly apply a layer of toothpaste, wait for about half an hour, and then wipe them with a rag. In addition, if there is rust stain on the ceramic tile, the rust is relatively hard, and it is difficult to remove with general cleaning agent, you can use 2% oxalic acid solution to corrode the rust, and then wipe it with a wet cloth. Pay attention to the safety of hands in the process! In addition, after grinding 3 to 4 vitamin C tablets into powder, sprinkle them on the surface of floor tiles , and then brush them several times with a brush, you can also remove the traces of rust. If you have fresh lemon, you can directly cut the lemon, rub it with lemon block on the rust stain, rub it several times, until the rust stain is completely removed, and then wash it with soap water.
How To Get Rid Of Yellow Stains On Bathroom Tiles
Everything has its service life. If it is used for a long time, it will be broken and worn out. However, as long as the correct care, maintenance, cleaning, can extend the service life. Here are some methods for removing yellow stains on shower/bathroom tile.
1. Cleaning bathroom tiles that have yellowed with multi-functional decontamination paste
Toilet tile is easy to turn yellow because of long-term contact with water, body wash, shampoo, washing powder and so on. In order to clean toilet tile without damaging the brightness of tile surface, we can use multi-functional decontamination cream to clean yellow stains on bathroom tile.
At the gap of toilet tile, we can first dip a little brush into it Multifunctional decontamination cream, and then use the toothbrush for gentle cleaning. After cleaning, brush a layer of waterproof agent on the gap with the toothbrush, so that it can also play the role of anti seepage and anti mildew. If there is soap dirt on the ceramic tile surface of the bathroom or shower, it can be washed with hot water first, so that the dirt part has a simple dissolving process first, and then it can be cleaned with multi-functional detergent.
2. Antifouling of white toilet tiles
The white ceramic tiles installed in the toilet is particularly beautiful, but the antifouling effect is not very good. If we are going to install white tiles in the bathroom, the first thing we need to do is to conduct anti-fouling treatment on the white tiles, wax the white tiles. For the tiles with serious dirt, we can use the cleaning ball to clean them.
3. Add tiles to the old yellowing tiles in bathroom
Beside the toilet, the color of the toilet tile may turn yellow to be more serious, and it is not very good for cleaning. We can consider adding new tiles on the old toilet tiles that have yellowed. At this time, we need to use a special stone binder, because this kind of binder is antifouling and has good adhesion.
When you get stains on ceramic tile, it can be really difficult to get some of them out. Instead of being able to simply wipe some stains off, you may end up with a shadow of the stain left behind. While a cotton rag with water is the first step to cleaning up most spills on ceramic tile, it is not going to work for everything. Plus, before you try anything to clean up a stain, you need to check that your cleaning technique is not going to cause any damage to your tiles. Here’s how to remove stains from ceramic tile.
The Type of Cleanup Depends On the Type of Stain
You must determine what type of stain you have before you try and clean it up. Here are some of the most common stains and cleanup methods that typically work. Just remember to try your method somewhere that cannot be seen to ensure it won’t do any damage to your ceramic during the cleanup process.
Nail Polish: First, you need to take nail polish remover and dissolve what you can. From there, if you notice any stain left over, you need to take a diluted bleach solution or a little hydrogen peroxide and dab it into the stain. It should remove all leftover traces.
Juice, Tea, and Coffee: First, you should take a gentle detergent and hot water and wash up the stain. If any shadowing remains, use the same peroxide or diluted bleach solution mentioned above.
Blood: Leftover blood on any ceramic tile can be easily cleaned up with hydrogen peroxide or the mild bleach solution that is used for many tile stains.
Waxy substances, tar, or gum: First, you need to freeze the substance with ice cube inside of a sealed bag. Once it is frozen, pry it up with popsicle sticks or a toothpick. If any bit of the substance remains, use paint thinner that is not flammable, being careful not to spill.
Ink: Use a soft cotton cloth that has been soaked in a diluted bleach, and place it over the top of the stain. It should be left alone, other than to check it, until the stain then disappears. Make sure you rinse off the area well once the cloth has been removed.
Grease: Use club soda and water to dab up the grease, or you can opt to try a floor cleaner that is not abrasive.
Tile Stain Won’t Budge? Call the Tiling Professionals
If you are struggling to get stains on your ceramic tiles clean, then call in the professionals. By calling us here at Windows, Floors & Decor, we can come out, see what type of stains you are dealing with, and get those stains up off of your floor without damaging your tiles or the surrounding grout. Don’t take chances with stains that you cannot determine what they are, because if you combine the wrong things, you could end up hurting yourself or damaging your floor. Give us a call at Windows Floors & Decor today, and let us make those tile stains a thing of the past.
Debbie said, “I have had porcelain tiles laid in my en-suite. Within a day they were showing smeary marks where they had gotten wet from the shower. I was devastated until my tiler husband told me that there is a wax coating on them and that he hadn’t cleaned it off yet! I got some wax remover from the tile shop and it took me a couple of hours (and two goes at it) to remove the wax and then I sealed them. They’ve looked great ever since. The only problem I’ve got is that I put a purple candle on the window ledge and now it has left a stain. Tried vinegar and water to get it off, but no joy. Any ideas?”
- Removing the Stain
- Additional Tips and Advice
Dye stains can get on tile from a variety of substances, such as from candle wax or a wet shirt. Often times a dye stain is tough to remove from any surface, but it isn’t impossible; keep at it and the stain will usually surrender eventually. Use the steps below to remove the stains, repeating each step or trying a new step until the stain is gone.¹
Removing the Stain
You Will Need:
- A cloth
- Rubbing alcohol
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Baking soda
- Methylated spirits
- Paint thinner
Steps to Remove the Stain:
- Dampen a soft cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe the alcohol onto the stain. Use a soft cloth wet with plain water to rinse the area.²
- Wipe the stain with hydrogen peroxide, then use a wet cloth to rinse.³
- If peroxide alone doesn’t work, try combining it with baking soda. Spread a small amount of baking soda over the stain. Put the peroxide into a spray bottle and spray it onto the baking soda. Let the ingredients fizz and sit for 10-15 minutes, then wipe up the area with a damp cloth.⁴
- Methylated spirits can also be used to remove some dye stains. Wipe a small amount of the stain, let it sit for a minute, then use a cloth wet with plain water to wipe the area clean.⁵
- Paint thinner or mineral spirits can also be effective on some dye stains. Wipe a small amount on the stain, let it sit for a minute, then use a cloth wet with plain water to wipe the area clean.⁶
Additional Tips and Advice
- Although tile can tolerate most types of chemical cleaners, it is best not to use anything abrasive, particularly for porcelain tile. Stay away from harsh scrub sponges and abrasive powder cleaners.¹
- It is best to use cool water when treating a dye stain, as heat can cause some dye stains to become more difficult to remove.⁷
- Don Aslett’s Stainbuster’s Bible
- Field Guide to Stains by Virginia M. Friedman, Melissa Wagner & Nancy Armstrong
- The Cleaning Encyclopedia by Don Aslett
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Cleaning by Mary Findley and Linda Formichelli
- Stain Removal by Stephanie Zia
- Haley’s Hints by Graham and Rosemary Haley
- The Queen of Clean’s Complete Cleaning Guide by Linda Cobb
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How can I remove gentian violet from ceramic tiles, porous?
If the above tips don’t work, you may need a poultice to pull the dye out of the pores. To do that, select one of the cleaning liquids from the list above and mix a little with some baking soda to make a thick paste (about the consistency of toothpaste or peanut butter). Spread the paste over the stain and let it sit until dry, then sweep up the powder. Isopropyl alcohol or methylated spirits would be the best first-try pick. You can repeat the processs as many times as needed, or cover the poultice with plastic wrap to hold in the moisture for longer. If you don’t have baking soda, paper towels soaked with the cleaner and pressed on the stain can work as well. Good luck!
Flooring tiles are long lasting and easy to clean. Unfortunately, everyday wear and tear in the kitchen and bathroom can cause stubborn grease stains to form on tile and grout. Cooking oils spatter out of pots and pans on the tile flooring in front of the range or cooktop. Hairspray residue floats everywhere in the bathroom. Busy homemakers and working professionals, alike, may not have the time to sweep and mop the floor daily. If lacking maintenance has left you with set-in grease on your otherwise beautiful tile flooring, you can use a cleaning technique that preserves its aesthetics and durability.
Washing soda is found at supermarkets and home improvement stores. One familiar company markets washing soda as a detergent booster, as well as a household cleaner. If you don’t have washing soda, HGTV reports that you can use trisodium phosphate instead.
Grab a Box of Washing Soda
Read the product label on the package to make sure it is “washing soda,” not “baking soda.” Both are alkali cleaners that are capable of dissolving grease, but for set-in stains, experts consider washing soda as the best kitchen floor cleaner. The chemical name for washing soda is sodium carbonate.
Take Proper Safety Precautions
Put on protective gloves and eyewear, because washing soda is highly toxic. Turn on ventilation fans and open windows in the kitchen or bathroom areas.
Create Your Cleaning Solution
Add 1 gallon of warm water to a mop bucket. Arm & Hammer then recommends measuring 1/2 cup of washing soda and placing it into the bucket. Carefully stir the solution around in the bucket using a spatula.
Test a Small Area First
Dip the end of a washcloth in the washing soda solution. Wipe a small, inconspicuous area of the tile flooring with the solution to make sure no fading or abrasion occurs to the surface. There is no need to apply grease or oil to the inconspicuous area, as a part of the test. For example, wipe the tile floor in the corner of the pantry in the kitchen or behind the commode in the bathroom.
Wait five minutes for the washing soda solution to dry. Wet another cloth and wipe up the washing soda solution. If you notice no adverse effects, proceed with cleaning the set-in grease stains. Do not proceed if the test caused damage to the surface.
Choose Your Cleaning Brush
To remove grease from kitchen tiles, place a deck brush or handheld brush in the bucket so that it can absorb some of the washing soda solution. If you need to clean a wide area of set-in grease stains, such as the entire kitchen floor, use a deck brush with a handle so that you can scrub and walk, simultaneously. If you are spot cleaning, on your knees, a handheld brush is suitable.
Attack the Grease Stains
Scrub the grease stains on the tile using a circular motion, instead of a front-to-back or side-to-side motion. This gives the bristles on the brush extra opportunity to contact the sometimes gooey or hardened grease stains on the tile, creating friction and heat. Get in between the grout with a toothbrush. The buffing action drives the washing soda solution directly into the grease stain.
Wait Five Minutes
Wait five minutes for the washing soda solution to break down the grease stains. Meanwhile, pour the washing soda solution out of the bucket and down the drain. Rinse and refill the bucket with warm water but do not add any washing soda.
Mop the Floors
Soak a mop in the bucket and wring out the water. Mop up the areas where you applied the washing soda solution, removing the dissolved grease stains on the tile floor.
Things You Will Need
Protective gloves and eyewear
Measuring utensil and cup
Washing soda (sodium carbonate)
2 soft washcloths
Medium bristle handheld brush
Medium bristle deck brush
Medium bristle toothbrush
Contact the tile manufacturer or the original homebuilder for specific instructions on how to clean grease stains from your tile flooring. Some manufacturers offer warranties on tiling products. If washing soda is an unapproved cleaning product, you may end up voiding the warranty.
Avoid mixing washing soda with any other cleaning chemicals.