How To Soften Grout for Removal? (Easiest Ways)
Grubby-looking tile grout is a reality and is a problem in many homes. Fortunately, this can be remedied, and the good news is that there are a few easy ways to soften the grout between your tiles so that it can be easily removed and replaced. Softening and removal of old grouting is possible without calling in the services of a professional
Cement-based grout can be removed manually. It is much easier to remove the grout between the tiles if it is first softened and there are several ways to do that.
Household items that you CAN use to soften cement grout:
- Lemon Juice
- Wooden Stick
- Heat Gun
Household Items that you should NOT be tempted to soften grout
- Any metal scrappers – you may damage the edges of your tiles
- Vinegar – while vinegar may help to soften the grout between your tiles, it may also damage the outside protective layer of many types of toiles.
Guide to Soften Grout
Step 1: Decide Whether You Need To Completely Remove The Grout
Removing grout from between tiles is a hassle. Over time the grout between the tiles in your bathroom and kitchen may have become stained and discolored. They may even be moldy in some corners. Before you decide to completely replace the grout, first check if your existing grouting could be saved.
Several easily available products effectively remove stains from existing grout and give it a fresh, clean appearance. Before replacing your grout, consider using a product like Rejuvenate Grout Deep Cleaner, which retails for around $10. Unless your existing grouting has become brittle or worn right back, it will be much easier to give it a facelift than completely replacing it.
Step 2: Check The Type Of Grout That You Want to Remove
|Cement Grout||Epoxy Grout|
|Made from a cement powder mix||Made from epoxy resins and|
|It tends to shrink over time and wear away as a result of regularly cleaning||Resilient and more likely to last longer than cement-based grout|
|Can be softened for and removed manually||It will require an epoxy removal product to break it down|
The type of grout will determine the method required to remove the grout. Cement-based grout can be removed manually. Epoxy-based grout is too hard, and you will require a specific epoxy solvent and some special tools to remove it.
Step 3: Decide On A Grout Removal Method
Grout is porous if it has not been sealed to make it waterproof. If unsealed like most old grouting is, applying a water-based mixture onto the grouting and allowing the water to be absorbed by the grout will soften the grout sufficiently to enable removal.
You can choose either a chemical method to soften and remove the grout or use natural products that you already have.
|Chemical Grout Softeners||Homemade Grout Softeners|
|May require that you wear protective safety gear||Special gear is not usually necessary|
|Commercially available products include Muriatic Acid, Aldon Grout Residue Remover, and De-solve-it contractors solvent||Ingredients can include things like sugar and lemon juice|
|Highly effective and fast-acting||Inexpensive but may take a little longer|
Step 4: If Using A Chemical Grout Softener, Follow Instructions on The Label
Each commercially available grout softener has specific directions. For your safety, you must read the label and take note of all safety precautions. Products like Muriatic acid are a form of hydrochloric acid, and you will need to wear protective gear that will protect your skin and your lungs.
Step 5: Make Your Own Grout Softening Solution
If you have decided that you would like to replace your old grouting, removing it completely goes much quicker if it is softened before scrapping and chipping it out. The simple way to soften grout is to use a sugar or lemon juice solution. Do not confuse the sugar solution with sugar soap which is an entirely different substance. Here’s what to do:
|Sugar Mixture||Lemon Juice Mixture|
|1 Cup of sugar 1 Gallon of hot water||I cup of lemon juice 2 cups of warm water|
|Stir the mixture until all the sugar granules are dissolved||Stir the ingredients together|
Step 6: Apply the Mixture To The Grout
Then apply the mixture to the grouting that you want to remove. Floors are easy to cover. This process can be trickier when it is a tiled wall, but you can apply as much as possible to a wall using a sponge.
Once you have covered all the areas, give the grout some time to absorb the mixture and soften. This process may take at least 2 hours for the grout to absorb enough moisture to make it easy to remove.
Step 7: Remove the Softened Grout
After a couple of hours of being covered in the sugar or lemon solution, the grout will have loosened. You can now begin to pick at it using something like a paint stirring stick. Any wooden stick that fits between the tiles will be fine. A note of caution though, do not be tempted to use any metal scrapper around your tiles, as you could easily damage the edges.
There are also inexpensive grout removal tools available that will make your job a lot easier. For around $7, you can purchase a grout removal tool kit like the one from Fansity, which includes protective gloves and a variety of scrappers that will fit neatly between your tiles and make removing the softened grout a breeze.
Step 8: Keep Adding The Softening Mix
If the grouting you need to remove is thick, you may need to keep adding your hot sugar or lemon water mixture as you expose the deeper grout. Work from one side of the area to the other so that as you move along, you can pour more of the mixture into the newly exposed grout layer and give it time to absorb the moisture before you come past again to remove it.
Never put new grout on to old grout. It is well worth the time and effort that you take to remove all the old grout completely.
Step 9: Rinse the exposed tiles
When you have chipped away all the old grout, the area might retain a sticky residue from your softening solution. There are probably crumbled bits of the old grout and dust everywhere that you don’t want to mix with your new clean grout.
Take the time to thoroughly rinse the area with clean water and give it time to dry. You can wipe off as much moisture as possible using some old towels or absorbent cloths, but there is nothing better than opening a window on a warm day and allowing the water between the tiles to evaporate. If you are in a hurry, you can also go over the area with a hairdryer to get rid of the dampness in those hard-to-reach places.
Step 9: Add Some Heat
If the homemade solutions are not working as effectively as you would like, or if the area where you are trying to remove the grout is stubborn or hard to reach, you can try softening the old grout with a heat gun. Before you consider this, first check that your tiles are ceramic and not plastic.
Although a heat gun is the most effective tool, you can also use a regular hair dryer in a low heat setting. The heat gun should be set to below 300F.
- Do NOT put the heat source directly against the grout as you are highly likely to damage the tiles.
- Hold the heat gun around 6-8 inches away from the grout you want to remove.
- As you move along the grout lines with the heat gun, you should follow the grout removing tool. The grout will only soften briefly while heated, so you will need to move the process along in unison.
- This is a time-consuming process, but it is not impossible. Once you have a sizable piece of grout out in one section, it often becomes easier as you move along as the remaining grout is exposed from the side.
Step 10: Apply Some Steam
If you have a high-pressure steam jet, you can use it to apply heat directly to the grout. Position the nozzle close to the grout that you need to remove. The steam and moisture should soften the grout and make it easier to remove. Follow the path of the steam jet with your grout removal tool.
You can give your bathroom or kitchen an inexpensive facelift by replacing the old crumbling grout between the tiles. Removing old grout will be much easier if it is softened before removal, and there are several ways to do that. By selecting the most effective method for your particular area, the job of taking out old grouting can be significantly speeded up.