You are here:

Flooring and Carpeting/Quarry/Mexican Tile & Grout Cleaning


QUESTION: We have a red quarry/Mexican tile that has a light sheen.  This flooring tile is in our enclosed Florida room. It appears to have a white-ish -- possibly calcium -- stains on tile & in grout joints. The whitish color (?calcium) is predominantly around the windows in this room. How should the tile & grout be cleaned? For some reason, the pictures only show the calcium-color on the grout but not on the tile. Thank you.

ANSWER: Thank you for your question Barbara,

   This is not at all unusual to be happening when this material is exposed to the elements. Efflorescence is the term and mineral salts are leaching out of the cementicious grout. All you need to do is a light acid bath with a scrubbing pad/brush to remove the minerals from the grout and whatever film is getting over on the tiles and dulling that. You can purchase a small tub of Sulfamic Crystals and a scrub brush and follow the instructions and simply clean it all off. You could do a nice Baking Soda rinse afterwards just to freshen the cleaned joints and neutralize any residual acid that may remain. Sulfamic Crystals is only slightly stronger than Vinegar and smells better. It will work great. But if for some reason it doesn't you can purchase a bottle of "Tile-Labs" grout cleanser and employing the same scrub brush should help equally as well. The key of course to this process is the strength of the "elbow grease" applied to the scrubbing, so take you time and give everything a good rinse afterwards and it should turn out just fine. Ok Barbara I hope this helps you with your problem, feel free to return anytime...

Perry V.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: We tried Sulfamic crystls which removed some of white calcium deposit from tile, but did not remove it from all the tile & none of the grout.  Then we experimented w/CLR even though CLR instructed not to use it on natural stone or grout. That resulted in removing most of the whitish deposit on the tile, & appears to have done the same for the grout. We have not washed off the CLR from the grout, but it appears to look fine. What are your thoughts about using CLR on the tile & grout? If you recommend that we not use CLR on the grout, & we cannot remove the whitish stain from grout lines w/the products you recommended, what is your opinion on using Custom Building Product Polyblend Grout Renew all-in-one colorant & sealer to stain over the original colored grout and also to stain over the whitish stains on the grout? Do you feel that that product will color over the calcium stains on the grout? Thank you. P.S.You responded to our email 2/21 & we sent our email to you w/pictures of the tile & grout on approx 2/20. Do you need us to send the pix again?

Welcome back Barbara,

     CLR is an amalgam of weak to mild acids with a bit of soap thrown in which is why they have a disclaimer not recommending it to be used on grout or a soft natural stone that could be "etched" during the process...follow me? But...I used to use muriatic acid with a 50/50 (supposed to be 1 to 4 ratio) blend to burn cement slabs that I felt were suspect to produce a good bond, so acid use or CLR in this case I feel can be used but I would not just leave it just to dry in place. By doing so the chemicals will remain and can be reactivated by simply a case of morning dew covering the floor. This will then be picked up by your shoes or bare feet and brought back into the house to potentially affect things where you are not expecting it to. So....I am not against another treatment (If you will) of the grout joints on the porch but this time Barbara lets have a plan to employ a nice Baking Soda rinse (twice) to be sure to neutralize the CLR and rinse it away so that there isn't the chance of it continuing the chemical reaction that may be introduced inside the main house. Now as for the stain or colorant for the joints??? Nah, don't do it. It is little more than a coat of paint and the result is typically less than satisfactory. The material claims to be a stain (and perhaps it has some properties that act as such) but again it is a pains taking process as you have to cover/paint every lineal foot of grout joints probably more than once to begin to reach the desired visual product. Then afterwards there is no guarantee that it will maintain both it's color and or bond. I did see your pictures that you sent originally so I am aware of what you guys are dealing with. It is likely that these minerals are being pulled up from the slab below that is in contact with the ground...leaching up and out. Ok Barbara I hope this clarifies and helps what your doing. Come again anytime...


Flooring and Carpeting

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Perry Vellenga


Ceramic Tile/Marble. I can answer questions about floor preparation, tile selection, layout questions, performance of products, expectations of finish, compatabilities, questions about grout and epoxies, evaluating an installer, asking the right questions to check competence...more? 33 years this August 2012/ many years in commercial application from exterior finishes to Mall store fronts/ interior finishes like floor packages in stores inside Malls examples: The Limited, Lerner/NY, Lane Bryants, Bombay Co., Now involved in Residential new construction covering all types of interior finishes and designs.


I worked in an exclusive field of floorcovering called "Tenant Development" which is by invitational bid only, by way of a National bid list. These are large floor packages usually over 3500 sq. ft. of 18" x 18" Marble and Granite and many other types of Marble and sizes. They are specialty stores where the floor package can cost upwards of $50,000 for one store. I have also done "Structure" stores and J. Riggins stores, Lane Bryant,Express and Body Shop stores where wood flooring is used. Presently work for a National Flooring Company in the Residential new construction arena that covers most interior design elements..Granite Slab tops/wood flooring both job finished and prefinished ect..

My response's are published all across the Internet and picked up by multiple Interior Design sites and Industry related web sites where people have questions...

too many most of which don't count...

©2017 All rights reserved.