How to remove Efflorescence from Tile?


How to remove Efflorescence from Tile? - What is a good product to remove efflorescence from ceramic tile.


ANSWER - I assume if you have efflorescence on a ceramic tile that it is either coming up through the porous grout joints or it is an unglazed porous ceramic tile. Glazed ceramic tiles have a surface that has a fired-on glass-like impervious coating, so you normally would not have efflorescence on that surface. Although it can migrate through some porous natural stones or concrete.

Efflorescence is generally a mineral or salt crystalline compound found in the ground and within concrete that dissolves in moisture that migrates up through the ground and concrete to the tile surface where the moisture evaporates leaving an expansive salt residual.

Normally an acid based cleaner will remove the efflorescence, but you have to be careful that the acidic solution doesn't damage the tile or grout. A properly mixed diluted vinegar can be used if applied correctly. Sulfamic acid is the safest acid to use. Don't use muriatic acid as it is too corrosive. Manufactures of cleaners and sealers sell diluted phosphoric acid cleaners for this purpose.

Of course as long as the source of the salt and moisture remains the efflorescence will return. After you adequately clean the tile and let it dry, you can apply a sealer that will help retard the efflorescence, but that has to be maintained regularly too. You can't do much about eliminating the source of the salt, but if you stop the source of the moisture then it can't transport the salt solution to the surface of the tile. So look at adjacent planters that might be too wet and supplying the moisture that is migrating to the tile surface. For a list of manufacturers who produce cleaners and sealers Go to our website at to Expert Answers to find Resources and click on Cleaners and Sealers to view their products. Good luck.

2 thoughts on “How to remove Efflorescence from Tile?

  1. Mary Lou Strandoo says:

    I am in Maui, Hi. I had a reputable company last year strip and clean my terra cotta tile Lani, last year!
    I am a part time resident, I heard it looked bad, but only in January did I see it! About half the tiles have effervescence , I’ve learned the sealer used was a cement seal! Euclid Luster 3000 not 300! What products to use now? Remove seal than remove effervescence than reseal??

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Efflorescence is a symptom of a moisture problem. Moisture from below the terra cotta tile absorbs minerals (forms of salts) and as the moisture evaporations at the surface of the tile and grout joint it precipitates the whitish calcium deposits.

      Sealers can help minimize the moisture migration to try to prevent the efflorescence, but they don’t last that long. The moisture condition might be when there is rain and the water table rises subjecting the concrete substrate to excessive moisture.

      Terra Cotta tiles are normally unglazed and very porous. There are different types of sealers. Some are enhancers that darken the material and gives it a shine.

      Your floor needs to be stripped again until the terra cotta tiles are clean and absorbs. There are a number of different manufacturers of sealers. You can see a limited list of major sealer manufacturers on our website in the Resource section at

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