How To Get Dried Grout off Ceramic Tile. What professionals say

Grout can be tough to remove from ceramic tiles since it’s made to cement it in place. If you’re dealing with dried grout, don’t try to scrape it off since this can easily crack the tiles underneath. You’ll want to remove it safely so you don’t ruin your tile work.

You can remove grout from ceramic tiles by soaking it first in warm sugar water. The moisture helps loosen the grout, so you can use a tool to chisel it off. After that, you’ll need to soak the grout and scrub it with warm water. Soaking the grout longer makes it easier to remove.

Overall, this project will require a lot of elbow grease. Reading this article will make the process easier. Let’s begin!

Step 1: Prepare a Warm Sugar Water Solution

First, you’ll need to make a solution of warm water and white sugar. If the grout’s only a few days old, the sugar water can break it down enough for you to remove it from the tiles. However, if the grout dried longer than five days ago, you might need to use something more potent.

Get a decently-sized bucket and fill it with warm water. You’ll need a 1:10 solution of sugar to water. Most people will mix a cup of white sugar with 10 cups of warm water, but you don’t need to worry about measuring precisely.

Stir the solution until all the sugar dissolves in the water. You can add more water to keep the solution warm. Then, move on to the next step.

Step 2: Soak the Grout

Next, you need to soak the grout in the sugar water. Take a sponge or cloth, and submerge it in the solution. Then, set it over the grout and let it sit for about an hour. You may need to keep the grout covered longer if it’s completely dry.

Soaking the grout will help to loosen it from its bond with the tile, making it easier to remove in the following steps. If you don’t soak it for long enough, you could damage the ceramic tile underneath when you try scraping it.

Step 3: Scrape the Grout Off

The grout should be soft enough for you to remove it now. You’ll need a wooden or plastic stick to do the job—metal is too hard and will chip your ceramic tiles

Start by scraping the grout with your stick and applying more sugar water to the grout to keep it wet. Once you’ve removed all the largest chunks of grout, you can take a dish scrubber or rough sponge and scrub off the thinner layer of grout. Steel wool also works, but you’ll need to be very gentle with it.

Step 4: Rinse the Tiles With Warm Water

You don’t want to leave the solution on your ceramic tiles for too long, so make sure you rinse them off with clean, warm water. Use a towel to dry the surface and check for any remaining grout. You can also mop the floor like usual to remove debris.

You must rinse the tiles well so the sugar water doesn’t sit there too long. Leaving the sugar water to dry might damage some tiles or attract pests like ants.

If there’s still grout, you can retry soaking it with the sugar water and scratching it off.

Step 5: Use Sandpaper (Optional)

However, some lingering grout might not come off, no matter how much sugar water you use. You’ll need to use something stronger in that case.

Take a piece of coarse-grit sandpaper and carefully rub away the remaining grout. Make sure to keep the grout wet as you scratch at it. Then, rinse away the dust that it makes. 

You can get in the tiles’ cracks by attaching the sandpaper to a small stick. It works well to wear down grout in tight spaces. A grout brush or toothbrush also works to get in these areas.

Overall, you don’t need to use sandpaper to finish the job, but it works well for stubborn grout that isn’t coming off with the sugar water.

Does Vinegar Remove Dried Grout?

Many people also wonder if they can use a white vinegar solution to remove the grout from their ceramic tiles. However, you shouldn’t use this.

Homemade vinegar solutions contain too much acid, which discolors the ceramic. You can still test it on a small, unnoticeable area on the tiles, but you shouldn’t use it on a large surface until you’re sure it won’t ruin them.

So, while vinegar softens the grout enough to remove it, it can damage ceramic. If you still want to try it, combine two parts of white distilled vinegar with one part of hot water. Then you can apply it using the above steps, as long as you perform a test first.

This solution is best when the sugar water isn’t enough to remove the dried grout. It’s very acidic, so take care when using it.

Other Methods To Remove Dried Grout

You can also try to dissolve the grout using a heat gun and a grout rake. Follow these quick steps:

  1. Warm the grout with the heat gun on its lowest setting. (A hair dryer on high can also work.)
  2. Keep the heat gun at least eight inches away from the grout.
  3. Use a grout rake or other tool to pick it off the tile.
  4. Use sandpaper to remove the remaining grout.

If you don’t have those tools, a steam cleaner also works well for softening grout. Simply steam the grout pieces, then use a piece of wood to scrape them off. You want to ensure you can steam the grout for a few minutes.

In short, there are other methods that you can use to remove the grout. However, most people have the best results when using the sugar water solution.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, you should always start by soaking the grout in water. Doing so can help loosen it, making it easier to remove from the tiles without cracking them. Take care not to scrape the ceramic underneath accidentally.

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