How To Clean Thinset Off Tiles | 5 Steps That Will Save Your Time and Energy

Thorough cleaning with a sponge and soapy water is sufficient to clean thinset off your tiles. Wet the floor with warm soapy water, allow the tiles to soak for a while, then scrape the thinset with a flat putty knife or a hammer and chisel. Apply an acidic cleaner to the tiles and scrub with a brush. Rinse thoroughly to remove the acidic content. Finish your cleaning by wiping down the tiles with a dry towel and vacuuming to remove dust and keep your tiles polished.

how to clean thinset off tile

Step-By-Step Guide To Cleaning Thinset Off Tiles

Tile installation can be a messy project. Even if you take all the necessary precautions, you’re likely to end up with some thinset on the tile and the surrounding surfaces. 

If you’ve ever tried to clean your tile thinset, you probably gave up after a few minutes because it was too frustrating. Well, what if I told you there was a way to make your tile look great again with just a little bit of elbow grease? 

In this guide, I’ll walk you through how to clean the thinset tiles using mostly common household items. This will save you tons of time and energy while making your home look cleaner than ever before.

I’ve tested this method with both porcelain and ceramic tile. And it works great every single time!

So let’s get started by getting some cleaning tools ready;

Cleaning Equipment Needed

Depending on the thickness of the thinset and the size of the area you need to clean, you’ll need at least some of these items to make your cleaning fast and easy.

  • A Bucket of warm Water
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Your preferred cleaning agents ( White vinegar, Grout cleaner, or Muriatic acid)
  • Putty Knife
  • Mop
  • A Hammer and Chisel
  • Microfiber towel
  • Scrub Brush or Sponge
  • Grout Scraper
  • Protective wear ( Rubber gloves, dust masks, and goggles)
  • Vacuum Cleaner

 Now that you have your materials in place, let’s get cleaning! 

Step 1: Clean The Tiles With Warm Water and Soap

A good cleaning with soap and warm water, followed by scrubbing with a sponge, could be all that is required to remove a light thinset stain from the tiles. However, If the thinset is too stubborn, you should move on to the next step.

  • Fill a bucket halfway with dish soap and warm water.
  • Pour hot water over the tiles to soften the thinset and make it easier to remove.
  • Allow about 20 minutes for hot water to soak in.
clean tiles with soapy water

Step 2: Remove Hard Thinset 

To lift off a hard thinset from tiles, you’ll need sharp, sturdy tools. This may also require a bit of extra effort from you.

  • Scrape thinset off the tiles with a putty knife while it is still wet.
  • Keep the knife as flat as possible on the surface to avoid messing up the finishing of your tile.
  • Work in small sections and from various angles until your tile is free of thinset.

If the thinset is particularly hard and stubborn, you can carefully use a chisel and hammer

  • Hold the chisel at a 45-degree angle and tap gently to chip off hard thinset from the tile surface.
  • Slowly advance the chisel in small sections of 1 or 2 feet at a time. However, don’t hit the chisel too hard to avoid scratching or breaking your tiles,
  • Always ensure you wear your goggles to keep sand and dust out of your eyes.

Step 3: Apply Acidic Cleaning Solution

When removing the thinset with a chisel or a putty knife, cloudy patches of thinset are usually left on the tile floor. If you want spotless tiles, you should clean them with safe acidic cleaning products.

However, before you begin, take note of these precautions;

  • Wear protective gear like nose masks and gloves when applying the chemical.
  • Keep the room well ventilated when washing the tiles with the chemical.

Using Vinegar

Vinegar is a simple acid solution that effectively removes cement-based elements from tiles. It is a weak acid solvent that will loosen the bonding elements of the thinset without damaging the tiles.

  • Mix white vinegar and water equally in a bucket.
  • Soak the tile surface in a vinegar solution.
  • Allow the solution to sit on the tile for about 15 minutes.

Using Muriatic Acid

Muriatic acid is another effective cleaning agent for removing excess thinset. However, it is a harsh cleaning product that must be handled with caution and used only if necessary.

  • Mix one part muriatic acid to eights parts water in a bucket.
  • Spray the tile surface with the acid solution.
  • Allow the solution to sit on the tile for about 15 minutes.

Step 4: Scrub The Tile surface

After leaving the cleaning solution on the tile surface for a while, the thinset patches should be dissolved.

  • Scrub the tiles with the brush dipped in the cleaning solution.
  • Remove any thinset from the grout lines with a grout scraper.
  • Use a drill brush to minimize your manual effort when cleaning a large surface area.

Step 5: Rinse And Wipe Tile surface

Rinse the floor thoroughly after using any acidic products because acidic residue can weaken the tiles and cause surface damage if left on for an extended period.

  • Dampen a mop in clean water and wipe the tiles thoroughly.
  • Dry the tiles with a microfiber cloth or towel to prevent water spots.
  • Vacuum the area to remove any dust.

Quick Tip: Cleaning dried thinset off your tiles will take time and effort. You should set aside a day for this task if you are cleaning a large area by yourself.

FAQs On How To Clean Thinset Off Tiles

What is the difference between thinset and grout?

Thinset is a cement-based adhesive that can be used to attach your tiles to any surface. while Grout is a porous stone material that is used to fill in areas where tiles meet each other.

Is vinegar effective at removing thinset?

Yes, it is effective, Vinegar is a simple acidic solution that works well for removing concrete-based materials from tiles. It is strong enough to loosen the bonding elements of the thinset from the tiles without damaging them.

Scroll to Top