There is white residue on my bathroom floor tiles in areas where water regularly leaks. It looks like limescale but will not budge when I try to remove it with vinegar. How can I remove it?

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2 Answers 2


That does not look like residue. 1.) if you get it wet, does it fade or change in color? 2.) if you scrape at one spot wiht your fingernail, does it come up?

Looking at the photos you've posted, I think that is both mold (in a few areas - showing that the area does indeed stay wet often as you imply), and damaged flooring.

I suspect the material of that flooring is porous and the water has actually damaged the "cheap" surface.

Also, it looks like you may have used a scrub tool on it, which has scored the surface further (the scratches and lines), and the condition will continue to get worse.

My recommendation at this point is to keep it clean and dry, solve the issue that introduces the water/dampness. you will have to replace the damaged areas to return it to like new condition.

If that is real wood, and it has a finished surface, you can probably use a buffer on it, but it does not look like real wood.

  • It's ceramic tiling made to look like wood. If I get the white part wet, it looks as if it has disappeared. When it dries it's back to this. Scraping doesn't help. Edit: My roommate has admitted to using a cleaning product that bleaches colour, so that's probably it.
    – rachel1
    Aug 19, 2017 at 22:49
  • Wow, it's really hard to tell that is ceramic other than the grout inbetween the pieces. Do you know what the brand or name of that ceramic is? The one pic looks like it was scrubbed so much that the "fake wood grain" is actually rubbing/sanding off. If that is ceramic, it could be a glue/color pigment they used on it, or it could like you suggest be calcification, so salt/vinegar can certainly do the trick. I've heard people use water/muriatic acid, but I wouldn't do it on that tile, and I'm really wondering if the tile can handle the scrubbing.
    – noybman
    Aug 20, 2017 at 1:50
  • I like a product called CLR (calcium lime and rust remover) try a little on a sponge and see if it dissolves the layer. I would not pour it on just a wet sponge or rag then rince. If this removes it you may think about sealing the tile after it is cleaned.
    – Ed Beal
    Nov 30, 2017 at 19:55
  • 1. It doesn't look like mold to me. 2. Your answer states "I suspect the material is porous", which has been shown to be false by OP's response that it's ceramic tiling. 3. However, your overall conclusion that it's damaged flooring that can't be repaired appears to be correct.
    – AndyT
    Mar 26, 2018 at 8:03
  • Ceramic is porous, in varying levels of quality & polish, some more than others.
    – noybman
    Mar 28, 2018 at 3:19

Possibly answered by OP in a comment:

My roommate has admitted to using a cleaning product that bleaches colour, so that's probably it. – rachel1

This would imply that it is not a residue and therefore cannot be removed.

  • The comment by the OP in the discussion below is not an answer to the question. It's a statement of possibly how it occurred. The question to be answered is how to restore it so it does not look like this. I stand by my answer, it cannot be restored (unfortunately, this is still an opinion), but the flooring should not be this porous if it is high quality ceramic tile. Perhaps Ed's trick worked, no response from OP
    – noybman
    Mar 25, 2018 at 23:24
  • @noybman - Fair comment that it's not an answer. I've added my inference from the OP's statement to make it an answer.
    – AndyT
    Mar 26, 2018 at 8:01
  • I think we are speaking past each other here followed by your statement on my response that its ceramic therefore not porous. Not all ceramic in impermeable, the cheaper it is, the more likely it is porous. If it is NOT porous, then a bleaching agent would not harm it. If it is porous it certainly would. Ultimately my answer was that it does not look like residue, AND you agree, followed by the logic if it discolored it, it is again porous and that it cannot be cleaned off. BTW, not all mold is black or green but the blotchy patches are likely from long standing water (porous) or mold/stain
    – noybman
    Mar 28, 2018 at 3:18

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