Regardless of whether it is your ceramic tiles or your bathroom sinks, grout can be a huge pain to remove from surfaces. However, there are a few methods you can utilize to greatly help the grout removal process.
This article aims to provide you with all the information you need to get that pesky grout off of your kitchen tiles or bathroom sink.
Tools for Removing Grout
There are a few very handy tools that you can utilize to scrape away the grout you are removing after it is softened. Check out the items below to figure out which you would prefer to utilize.
A piece of steel wool is a great tool for removing softened grout, though it does have its downsides.
For example, since it is made of metal, it can scratch up the surface that you are working on, so you should be gentle while scrubbing away grout when using one. It can also leave marks that you should be able to easily wipe away.
Razor Blade or Scraper
Using a razor blade or razor scraper to peel away softened grout is one of the most effective options. However, you will need to be especially careful while utilizing this tool, since it can easily scratch up a surface.
Make sure you work slowly and cautiously if you opt for this tool.
A nylon pad is a great tool for removing grout, though due to its abrasive ways, you will need to scrub away the grout gently and with less pressure.
Similar to the razor blade and scraper, using a metal chisel to remove grout can be extremely effective. Just ensure that you work on scraping away the grout in a slow and gentle manner.
We will be detailing the use of wood for scraping off softened grout below. You can use a piece of hardwood, such as oak, to help keep the surface from becoming scratched up while you are removing the grout, which could possibly be an issue dealt with when using harder tools.
You can absolutely try to use a simple sponge to scrub away pieces of grout from a surface, though you will most likely need to use some muscle if you want to get it all removed.
This is definitely the gentlest tool to utilize for this task, since there is no risk of it scratching up a surface, although it is more time-consuming. Thus, if you are trying to get the grout removed as quickly as possible, another option would most likely be better for you.
Softening the Grout
Although you can attempt to scrape off the old grout from wherever you are removing it, this is not the best idea without first softening up the grout. This is because if you do not help yourself by softening it beforehand, you are more likely to scratch up and otherwise damage the surface you are working on.
Thankfully, getting the grout easier to remove is very simple. There are a few different methods you can choose from, so if you find you are not having much luck with one method, you can try out another to see if it works better.
If you find you cannot get the grout off no matter how hard you try, you may need to replace the tile or whatever surface you are trying to remove it from.
Keep in mind that if you do not remove old grout from a surface before applying fresh grout, you will end up with uneven grout. If you are trying to remove grout that was applied by mistake, try to get to it as soon as possible because the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to get the grout off.
One other important piece of information to note is that you should try a bit of whatever solution you plan to utilize for softening the grout on a small piece of the tile or other surface the grout is on (unless it is just water). This way, you can ensure that the solution will not damage the surface before you use it for the entire task.
1 – Warm Water
Using warm water to get grout off of tiles and other surfaces is the most common method, though you may end up needing something stronger than water to get the grout off.
For this method, you will also need a piece of steel wool with fine wires and a sponge.
First, get your sponge wet with warm water, and use it to wipe over the tiles or whatever surface the grout is on. After you have gotten the surface nice and wet, you can use the steel wool to slowly and gently scrape away the grout as the water helps dissolve it away at the same time.
After all the grout has been wiped away with the steel wool, grab a washcloth that is damp, and use it to wipe over the surface to clean up the mess. Finally, use a dry washcloth to wipe down the surface one more time.
2 – Vinegar
Similar to the water method, when utilizing vinegar, you will need a piece of fine wire steel wool to gently scrub away the grout. It is best to wear gloves for this method.
First, you will spray or pour the vinegar onto the grout you would like to remove. Make sure you get the vinegar from the surface as quickly as possible so this acid-based solution does not damage it, and only use a little bit at a time for this same reason.
Gently scrape away the softened grout using the steel wool, and once you have gotten some up in one spot, wipe away the vinegar from that part of the surface. Keep repeating this process until all of the grout has been removed.
Once you have gotten all of the old or unintentionally applied grout from the surface, use warm water to clean away any remaining vinegar, and then wipe the moisture away with a dry washcloth.
3 – Sugar Water
One way you can soften up and remove your grout without potentially harming your tiles or other surfaces is by utilizing a sugar water solution. You will need about one part sugar to every 10 parts water, though you might find that more or less sugar works better for you.
Simply add white, granulated sugar to some warm water, and stir the solution until the sugar has finished dissolving. Use a sponge to dip into the sugar water solution, and wipe a generous amount of it onto the grout you need to remove.
Since sugar water is not harmful to surfaces, you can leave the solution in place for around an hour to let it work its magic on the grout. You may even wish to leave it on for a longer period of time if you really want to ensure it will soften the grout.
After letting the solution sit, you can use a wet washcloth or steel wool to wipe away the old or unintentionally-applied grout from the tile or other surface. Make sure you are using more of the sugar water solution as you scrub away the grout so as to keep it moist and soft.
Once you have removed all of the grout, you can utilize a dry washcloth to wipe away the solution and bits of loose grout left behind.
4 – Brick and Patio Cleaner
Although this solution is designed for bricks and patios, this cleaning solution is wonderful for getting unwanted grout removed from various types of surfaces. Since this solution is harsher than the others mentioned above, you should only use this method if you cannot get the grout off with gentler solutions.
Depending on how much grout you are removing, one liter of the solution should be enough to get the job done. Pour a bit of the solution onto the surface with the grout on it, and leave it there for a few seconds to see if it will damage it.
After testing the solution, put on gloves to protect your hands, wear goggles to keep your eyes safe, and make sure the area is being ventilated well. You will need to wipe away the solution with water immediately after applying it to the grout so as to avoid harming your tile or other surface.
You can use a sponge to wipe the solution away, and you can utilize steel wool, a razor blade, or any other tool that seems like it will work well to scrape the grout from the surface. After this, use a dry washcloth to wipe away the water and bits of removed grout.
5 – Wood and Water
This method requires you to utilize a piece of oak wood to scrape with, water, a towel for wiping, and a nylon scouring pad for later-stage scraping. You may also need a bit of sandpaper.
The first step for utilizing this method is to pour warm water (or a sugar water solution) onto the grout you need to remove. You can leave it on there for as long as you would like to help soften up the grout.
Next, you will take your piece of hardwood, such as oak, and make sure one end of the piece is square-cut. This will allow you to easily use the wood as a scraping tool.
Now, with a bit of pressure, scrape the grout off with the piece of wood, working on the larger pieces of grout first. You may need to use sandpaper to sand down the wood to get into tighter parts of the cracks.
Once you have gotten all of the bigger bits of grout removed, you can utilize the nylon scouring pad to scrub away the grout after getting it wet again. You might need to rinse out your nylon pad every once in a while to get bits of grout off of it.
After you have successfully removed all of the unwanted grout, you need to wash away the leftover mess with water, and then dry the surface with a washcloth. Make sure you examine the surface afterward to see if all of the grout is gone, and if it is not, you will simply need to repeat the process.
6 – Various Acids
Using harsh acidic solutions on tiles or other surfaces to remove grout should be your last resort. However, if you have tried every other method with no luck, this is one way to almost guarantee you can remove the grout.
You would use other acidic solutions similarly to the brick and patio cleaner. You will need to wear gloves and goggles, and keep the area you are working in well ventilated.
Once again, you should test a bit of the solution on the surface with the grout on it to make sure that it will not damage it, and you will need to wash away the solution with water immediately after applying it to the grout.
You can use a scraping tool such as a metal chisel for peeling the grout away from the surface before rinsing and drying the area. You can also utilize a piece of steel wool and gently scrub the grout off.
As you can see, there are multiple methods you can try out to soften up grout before removing it. Keep in mind that with enough elbow grease and determination, you should be able to get that unwanted grout removed.
You can switch to an alternate method if one is not working very well. Ideally, you should try to use the gentler solutions before switching to the harsher acidic ones.
Sometimes, the grout is stuck on the surface so well that you do not have a choice but to attempt the grout removal with stronger solutions.
If you have attempted every method mentioned in this article, and you are still having trouble getting the grout softened up enough to scrape it off, you might need to replace the tiles the grout is on, if it is tiles you are working with.
You can also call a professional to see if they are able to remove the grout, if this is a more cost-effective option than replacing tiles.
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies…I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house.