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I have tried what feels like every cleaner and product out there to "clean" my black tile floors but I cannot for the life of me keep it looking nice and actually black. The tile and especially the grout always has a white look to it and imo, it looks awful. I assumed it was due to maybe salt/minerals in the water used to clean it, but I even tried distilled water and a steam cleaner (multiple times) to no avail.

The only time it actually looks good is when it's wet. (see pictures for comparison). Anyone have any suggestions on what to use to keep this floor looking good?

Typical look after "cleaning" and letting it dry Dry Tile

What the floor looks like wet while cleaning it. Wet Tile

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The issue is almost certainly, efflorescence from the grout being mixed with very hard water. While curing, the salts turn to a fine, light dust, causing the look from your photo.

The fix is a two-step process. First, clean the grout with a white, nylon bristled brush using a haze remover product like Custom Building Products Remover or Sulfamic Acid Crystals, depending on how noticeable the efflorescence. I have had much experience and successful results with these products as a bathroom renovation contractor. [I do not work for or am not sponsored by Custom Building Products or any of their affiliates]

FOLLOW LABEL INSTRUCTIONS. After you’ve scrubbed off the dusty residue “trapped” in the grout, rinse with cool, clean water to neutralize the acidic chemicals. Do a final rinse and wipe-down with a clean, dye-free cloth using distilled water. Let air dry. After complete drying of 1-2 hours, apply two coats of a quality penetrating sealer, (I can recommend 511 or Sealer’s Choice) following manufacturer’s directions.

NOTE: There is one other option if you are trying to achieve the “wet look” with your tile and grout. You can use a “surface sealer” with a gloss finish for the second or “topcoat.”

This is a little bit of work, but you only have to do it once to have a beautiful outcome that will last for years. Sealers should be reapplied to grout once a year. Resealing tile yearly is as easy as a five minute wipe-down.

Finally, and most importantly to preserve this or any new, sealed grout and tile installation, grout and tile should never be cleaned with harsh products like bleach or very strong cleaners, even when they’re advertised as “for bathroom tile, grout.”

The harsh chemicals break down the protective coat of the sealer and slowly will allow bacteria, fungi, dirt and oils to penetrate the grout and ultimately stain and ruin the install.

Clean tile and grout surfaces with a very mild soap solution and a clean, dye free cloth. I have a 100% success rate with this type of repair and maintenance routine.

If you have any follow-up questions or need additional information, feel free to ask. Good luck! Please post photos after you’ve finished your repair.

  • Awesome! I will definitely try this method out and report back. Thank you for the detailed post! – aveach Apr 19 '18 at 4:02
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    My pleasure. Tile is a passion of mine. And it can last many lifetimes of properly installed. Cheers, and don’t forget to upvote! – M.Mat Apr 19 '18 at 4:07
  • so did this work? – Christina Rule Jan 5 at 3:02
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It took me a couple of days to get my charcoal colored grout to look black and not dusty white. The trick (for me) was to use grout cleaning solution, a stiff brush, and a sponge:

  1. Working on about 5-10 square feet at a time, apply the cleaning solution.

  2. Scrub 5-10 strokes along each grout line with the brush, creating lots of bubbles and let it sit for a few minutes

  3. Come back with a sponge and water bucket, wring out the sponge, and soak up all the solution in one stroke. Wring out the sponge again. You don't want to leave any dirty solution behind.

This was after mopping several times, and half heartedly scrubbing it a few times. Every time I mopped it up, it would dry with white crud on the grout lines. Finally, after using a sponge to pick up all of the soapy solution that held the dust was I getting black grout. But I still had to do touch-ups. Finally it looks like new again. I used a good penetrating sealer with enhancer after that, and it gives it a permanent 'wet look' but not glossy, and really brings out the color of the actual grout!

  • Thanks for the tip! A lot of the grout cleaners I see specify "whitener" which I definitely don't want. (guessing nothing in it is actually causing any type of coloring, it's probably just a naming gimmick) Are there any brands you recommend? – aveach Apr 17 '18 at 23:34
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    @aveach I think it was Rejuvenate deep cleaner (the goo, not a spray bottle) – freshop Apr 17 '18 at 23:39
  • Good tips. I posted another answer with some additional info. – M.Mat Apr 19 '18 at 1:17

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