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How to Remove Tough Stains from Ceramic and Porcelain Tile

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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.

Bleach Alternatives

  • 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.

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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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(106) Comments

  1. I painted a room last week, some paint dropped on the ceramic tiles and its very difficult to remove the inner stains on the tiles . I have tried using acid but the stains are still there, I need an urgent help pls

  2. HI,
    We recently put down porcelain tiles for our bathroom and we have a few acid spots around the toilet (I think from drips from the toilet bowl brush after cleaning the toilet with a heavy duty toilet bowl cleaner. Any suggestions ??

  3. Try sticky stuff remover. I bought a bottle which is cheaper, paint it on with a brush then scour with a non scratch pad, you can buy a spray too. I used this on stone tiles after spending years trying to remove black stains on tiles. ( not tried porcelain but worth a try in a small area).

  4. We were stripping wallpaper in our hall/foyer and droplets of Dif ( an enzyme based wallpaper remover) left white droplets all over our shiny ceramic tiled floors. After failed attempts to clean it with an ammonia based cleaner, we tried full strength white vinegar. We poured it on, left it sit for a minute, then scrubbed with a scotch-brite plastic scrubbing pad , and it worked! Work in very small sections-3 or 4 tiles at a time and rinse well with warm water. Very pleased w the results and a cheap and safe cleaner as well!

  5. Hi can u help please. I left cork back coasters on my fireplace over the winter in my caravan and now I’ve found the brown out of the coaster has been absorbed into my fireplace any ideas how I can remove them. Thank you

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Della,

      Sorry to hear about your fireplace! Unfortunately it would depend on what type of material was stained. You can try a solution of one part vinegar to ten parts warm water to see if that will help pull it up. I would suggest finding out what material the fireplace is then going to your local hardware store to see if there is a specific cleaner that could work. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  6. I wanted to say that we had a tile guy lay tile and use muratic acid to clean it after one of the workers left some grout on the tile. It did not clean the tile, it damaged some of the tile because I’m sure that they had too much acid on it and it damaged my stainless steel appliances. So I suggest that unless you really have a professional doing this, I wouldn’t use muratic acid. There are other types of cleaner you can try, a simple vinegar and water solution for easy issues, and but we are going to have to have a tile resotration company fix our tile after using the muratic acid. And there is nothing we can do about the appliances.

  7. The last occupant of my apartment used an adhesive to fix a rug to the tiles. I removed the rugs and discovered stains that wouldn’t go by using diluted acid. What else can I use?

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Dominic,

      Thank you for getting in touch! I would try TileLab’s Sulfamic Acid cleaner, if this doesn’t work you will need to replace the tile. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

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