How do I remove the White Haze off of my Pebble Shower Floor?


I had my bathroom re done about 1 1/2 years ago, and about 6 months ago, I starting seeing a problem with the grout/stone pebble floor in my new shower.

The floor bed is pebbles and grout.. the floor was sealed when first done, but apparently the product sold to me didn't work? Not sure but for the past complete months, I have tried numerous products, but after the floor dries, it is white all over , on the stones it looks like a haze, but on the grout it looks more white. I have tried haze remover, stone enhancer, etc.. I was hoping to use an acid to just get it back to the original, and then re -seal, but not sure if that will hurt the grout. The walls are tiled from floor to ceiling.. Is there a product that you could recommend?


ANSWER - When there is a white haze on a shower floor it is normally either efflorescence precipitation or you have trapped moisture in the tile assembly by applying a non-breathable sealer over the floor.

Efflorescence is where minerals (similar to salts) in the concrete and stone setting bed dissolve in the moisture and as the moisture comes to the tile surface it evaporates and then precipitates the white minerals.   If you put a little vinegar on the white substance and it goes away, then it is efflorescence.

More likely is that they used a sealer or resin over the pebble floor that is non-breathable.  If water gets under the sealer then it will tend to turn a cloudy white color.   The question is why is water getting in under the sealer?   That could be a problem in itself.

If it is true they used a surface sealer then there are strippers available for removing the sealer.  You can then let the floor dry out and then reseal it with a breathable sealer.   If you got to our website resource section there is a list of manufacturer's of sealers and cleaners that you find a link to their website to find the appropriate product for your situation.  Click on Cleaner and Sealers.

24 thoughts on “How do I remove the White Haze off of my Pebble Shower Floor?

  1. Carol Ann Suddeath says:

    The exact same thing happened to me. I soaked the floor in distilled white vinegar it took 2 weeks. The vinegar will slowly soften the sealer (it was like a thick layer of glue) and the I scrubbed it off with a scouring pad. I tried everything. This worked!

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Normally vinegar a slightly acidic solution won’t affect the sealer, but it does attach the efflorescence. So I assume you were able to remove the efflorescence staining with the vinegar solution. Glad it worked!

      • Lianna says:

        My shower wall has river rocks, how can I easily remove the haze they have? Do you suggest vinegar with water or white sugar and water on paper towels?

        • Donato Pompo says:

          Vinegar is acidic and it might remove a cement haze or efflorescence, but it can also cause more damage if misused.
          I have never heard of using white sugar. Best bet is go to tile store and buy a cleaner for stone and tile.

  2. Carla Litton says:

    I believe my pebble stone shower floor was cleaned with CLR..UGH! It’s all white and chalky looking. Is there ANYWAY to get it back to it’s original state?

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Depends on what which CLR cleaner you used as they have many. There may have been a coating on the surface of the pebble stone that was degraded and maybe you have to remove it all with a stripper? I wouldn’t expect that you etched the surface with an acidic cleaner, but maybe… You should contact the manufacturer. They do have a CLR website where you can submit questions to them. You need to test small spots with whatever you do to make sure it works.

  3. Cheryl A Zeigler says:

    Hi, i have a stone tile shower with a Glass tile running through it. I mixed 1/2 vinegar with 1/2 water, sprayed on the glass tile waited 10 mins. Scrubbed it and rinsed it with cool water. Everything looked fine. When I went back in the bathroom several hours later there was a white haze on my river rock floor in the shower. What could have caused this and how do I remove it?

    • Donato Pompo says:

      The river rock probably had some sort of sealer or coating over it, and the acidic solution that got on the coating likely caused it to discolor. You will have to experiment, but there is a good chance you will have to stripe the coating off of the river rock and re-seal it.

        • Donato Pompo says:

          Normally a penetrating sealer is recommended. River rock is normally very dense so it will not take much. After applying the sealer be sure to wipe it off and buff it dry with a lint free cloth.

  4. Carol Cohen says:

    Some of the stones in my shower are turning white, while others are becoming darker. I purchased my home from a flipper who renovated the entire home. I don’t know if the shower floor was sealed. Is there a way I can tell?

    • Donato Pompo says:

      To determine if the shower floor was recently sealed, place about a dime size drop of water on the tile and if it beads up with a tight meniscus then it is likely sealed. If the water spreads out or absorbs leaving a damp spot after wiping up the water, then it likely isn’t sealed or it has been a long time since it was sealed and the sealer has dissipated.

      The white could be efflorescence which is minerals that migrate to the surface and the dark color might be more porous stones that have absorbed water. Both of those conditions could be symptoms that the shower pan was not constructed correctly and/or the weep holes in the drain are plugged that is causing water to be retained under the tiles and not able to drain away. It would require a forensic inspection to determine the cause and the solution to remediate.

  5. Mary McCarty says:

    I recently had a marble sliced pebble floor installed. The installer did not pre-seal pebbles so they turned darker with gray grout. I don’t mind that they changed color, but now I want to seal the pebble stones before we start using the shower. What type of sealer do you recommend? Very confusing! Should it be the impregnator type or something else? Thanks very much for your help.

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Not sure if you have real marble or some other type of stone because you said it stained. True marble is very dense and impervious. Normally for marble you would use a penetrating sealer like Miracle 511 Impregnator. If it is a porous stone and you want a wet look you can use an enhancer sealer. Sealers don’t last all that long in a shower environment where it is used regularly. It might only last 6 months to a year. If the water beads up on the surface of the stone it is working. If not then it needs sealing. Sealing makes it less susceptible to staining and make it easier to clean.

  6. Rich Owen says:

    My shower has a tiled floor and began to turn white in spots. I read that white vinegar would take care of the problem. It didn’t. Now all of my shower floor is white. I then read that “Scrubbing Bubbles” would solve the problem. It didn’t help. CAn you provide assistance/

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Depends on what type of tile you have and whether it was sealed. If you have a porous tile and seal it when it is retaining moisture it can create a whitish cloudy appearance. You can remove the sealer to let it dry out.

      Vinegar is acidic and a fairly mild acid, but applying it undiluted and leaving it on too long can cause some glaze tiles to etch, which can’t be repaired. Or maybe you have used too aggressive of a cleaning pad that has worn the glaze off of the tile.

      If the whitish material is efflorescence it should easily be removed with a mild diluted acid that most home centers or tile distributors should sell.

  7. Paula A Takeuchi says:

    I have a river rock floor in my shower. Where the shower head is, it looks like there’s rust in the grout. What can I use to get rid of this
    Paula Takeuchi

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Rust is a symptom of certain types of minerals or metal that are oxidizing. There are certain acidic cleaners bought at the tile and stone stores that can remove the surface rust completely or partially depending on what caused the rust. If the rust is due to metal deep beneath the grout you might not be able to remove it. Of course once you remove the rust then unless you remove the source of the rust it will return.

  8. Cindy M. says:

    I cleaned my river rock with 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 dawn. It was on longer than I planned now the whole floor is white. What can I do to restore it? If I need to strip it, please recommend a way to do it. Once done, does it need to be sealed?

    • Donato Pompo says:

      River rock should be resistant to those products. There is a chance there is a sealer or some coating over the river rock that reacted to those products. If that is so, you should be able to use a stripper to remove it. Or you can have a stone restoration company grind and polish it to remove the coating and bring back the color. They should seal it during that restoration process.

  9. sahil sethi says:

    Hi, we recently added a river rock/ pebble tile shower floor with grout. We forgot to seal the stones before grouting them and the stones have a distinct white haze on them. I can’t seem to remove the haze with sponging alone. Should i add a haze remover ? Will it affect the grout too (hard for me to just apply them on the stones and not on the grout between the stones) ? What haze remover should i use ?

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Assuming you grouted the tiles with a cementitious base grout, you probably did not dust the stones after your final sponge clean up of the tile during grouting. Typically he slight haze will be left. If you use cheese cloth and buff it dry as soon as the stone sure and the haze is dry, it will come right off. If you leave it on, it can be difficult to remove.

      If it is a cementitious haze, then get a little pit of vinegar and dilute it at least 50% and with a cloth apply it and see if the haze comes off. If it does come off, then go the tile store and buy an acidic grout haze remover. If it doesn’t come off then go to the tile store and buy some latex haze remover and see if that works. Always take a trial and error approach and test small out of the way spots to make sure you are satisfied with the results before proceeding.

  10. Rachael says:

    Thank you! My shower had efflorescence. It smelled like the sea, salty not fishy. I found this page and read these questions and your answers. I’d experienced efflorescence on an old basement wall from 1900, but I had no idea it could happen to the grout in a brand new shower. The vinegar took care of it instantly. My shower no longer smells like the sea. Hooray!

  11. Kim says:

    I applied a concrete sealer to my pebble/river rock shower floor. Over time it has turn a hazy white. I have purchased Aqua Mix Sealer & Grout Remover. Once I remove the sealer I want to reseal the shower with something else. Can you give me any recommendations on which product to purchase? I know you mentioned a penetrating sealer. There are hundreds to choose from. I am unsure which would be best.
    Thank you!

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