Installing tile can be a messy job, and the grout has a way of getting everywhere. Grouting natural stone always leaves some residue behind, even when the work is performed by an experienced installer. This problem is called a grout stain or grout film, and it may appear as a slight film or haze or an actual grout deposit. Manmade ceramic tiles are fairly easy to clean because they are nonporous. If you want to learn how to clean grout off natural stone tile, it requires a bit more care to prevent damage.
Avoid Grout Removal Products
Grout haze and residue is typically removed with an acid solution after the tile is installed. While these acid solutions are effective at cleaning away the residue, most types of natural stone, especially marble and travertine, are highly reactive to acid and develop etching and other types of damage. Never use a common grout removal product to remove the haze on a natural stone surface. You should also avoid the use of vinegar, which is commonly recommended for removing grout from tile but will cause damage to stone. Instead, use less invasive strategies.
Brush Away Loose Grout
As soon as possible after installation, brush away loose grout from the surface of the stone using a clean, dry cloth. In some cases, the grout haze is simply caused by the way the grout dried on the surface and it can be brushed away.
Try a Sugar Solution
If the grout can’t be brushed away, the next step is using a simple sugar solution. This should be done within 24 hours of noticing the haze or grout stains to be effective, although it should still remove the haze if performed within two weeks. Dissolve one cup of regular white sugar in a gallon of hot water. Soak paper towels in the solution and apply to the stone tiles. Let the paper towels soak on the stone for about an hour, then clean the surface gently with a soft brush and water. After the solution soaks the grout, the haze should wash off easily.
Follow Up with a Stone Cleaner
If the haze or stains aren’t completely gone, follow up the sugar solution with a stone-safe cleaning product. To prevent damage to your stone, make sure you use a stone-safe cleaner that does not contain any acidic compounds like vinegar or abrasives, such as Granite Gold Daily Cleaner®.
Seal Stone Before Installing Grout
The best way to keep grout stains from being a problem is ensuring the stone is properly sealed before installing the grout. Most natural stone is porous, although the degree varies by stone. For example, black granite absorbs less than marble and slate. A stone-safe sealer prevents the grout from being absorbed into the surface of the stone during installation for an easy cleanup. Your new stone tile should be sealed regularly afterward to maintain this protective barrier against spills and debris.
Just like it’s important to take care of your stone tiles, you should also take good care of your grout. Purchase a safe-on-stone grout cleaner from Granite Gold® to perform a deep cleaning on the grout without damaging your tiles. We also carry a wide array of other products designed for the care of natural stone. Give us a call at 1-800-475-STONE to learn more.