How to Clean Tile with Muriatic Acid

To remove soap scum and hard water deposits from a tile wall in a bathroom, mix one part muriatic acid with five parts water. Since muriatic acid is a harsh chemical, mix it outside.

Follow the warning and instructions on the bottle, and be sure to wear rubber gloves and eye protection. Apply the mixture with a nylon scouring pad in small circles over the tile. After rinsing the solution off with cold water, the tile will look as good as new.


  1. Yes, Sally, this cleaning solution will work on any glazed tile. However, don’t use it on hand-painted tile; the acid might remove the paint. Also, note that muriatic acid should be used only after exhausting all other options, including scouring powders and diluted bleach. The acid is very strong and has a very powerful odor. Good luck!–Joe T.

  2. Muriatic acid (not diluted – 100 percent strength) was used to clean the grout on floor tile in an existing bathroom and now the metal items in the room look pitted and tarnished. Is there a way to stop this and restore the items. Also the room was freshly painted and the walls look like they are being effected too. Would using vinegar or baking soda to wash the walls and metal items help?

    • Hi Debra,
      As you discovered, muriatic acid should be diluted according to the instructions on the bottle before being used for cleaning purposes. The corrosion you’re seeing was probably caused by the fumes from the acid while it was being used, which should have dissipated over time. But it would be a good idea to wash the walls and fixtures down with a sponge and plain water just to be sure all the residue has been removed. Don’t use vinegar, since it’s an acid as well, but adding baking soda to the water would be a good idea, since it’s an alkaline compound and will help to neutralize any acid.

  3. I prefer 20% vinegar which you can buy at a local hardwarw store for cleaning ceramic tile and grout. Muriatic acid is a dangerous substance and not worth the risk of using.

  4. Hey Charlie, Thanks for the tip. I know that vinegar is a very effective–and nontoxic–cleaner. Muriatic acid is used as a last resort when all other cleansers have failed. Thanks for writing and good luck!–Joe T.

  5. Don’t try muratic acid unless you dilute it a ton karen. im looking at some royally messed up kitchen tiles because the plumber tried to use it to clean them.

  6. Thanks for the How To. It was very helpful. We moved into a condo with a lot of soap scum and hard water on the bath/shower. The glass doors are a mess and was considering removing them. I’ll have to protect the aluminium…best to take glass doors outside. Still need an idea on how to protect all those things I can’t remove. Got an idea? Thanks again.

  7. Hi Elizabeth, Muriatic acid can damage the aluminum frame around the glass shower door, even when it’s diluted. But how to best to protect the aluminum? The acid will easily dissolve the adhesive on masking tape or duct tape, so you can’t masked it off. You can try coating the aluminum in petroleum jelly, but that’s a bit messy to clean up. My suggestion is to just be extremely careful not to flood the glass surface with the muriatic acid, and to work in small areas, especially close to the aluminum. If acid gets on the aluminum, flush it immediately with cold water. Damage will occur only if the acid is allowed to sit on the aluminum for awhile. Finally, it’s important to note that muriatic acid should only be used as a last resort when all other cleansers have failed, and it should be heavily diluted. Thanks, Elizabeth. Good luck!–Joe T.

  8. Hi Bill, I don’t know of a spray bottle specifically designed for spraying a diluted-acid solution, but they do make sprayers for applying bleach. If you use a standard plant mister to spray bleach, the bleach will eventually dissolve the interior plastic parts. Bleach sprayers are made from tougher plastics, which withstand bleach. A bleach sprayer might work for the diluted acid, but again, I’m not sure. Thanks for writing and good luck.–Joe T.

  9. In your video you did not mention the muratic acid’s %, the one I bought is 20%, is that still a 1/5 mix? And my bathroom has no window will the bathroom fan be enough for the fumes?

  10. What percentage muriatic acid did you use, undiluted. I found a chemical labeled muriatic acid available in Home Depot and based on information available on the manufacturersame website it is 20 percent muriatic acid. The intended purpose is for concrete, masonry, grout and other hard surfaces. Would this be safe to use on ceramic tile?

  11. Muriatic acid is another name for hydrochloric acid (HCL). Full strength
    HCL is 34% because HCL is a gas and this is the maximum solubility in water. Full strength is very potent and gives a pungent and toxic vapor! Even 10% HCL will dissolve the enamel of your teeth. Be careful!!! Weaker acids such as oxalic acid, acetic acid or lactic are much weaker but have good cleaning properties.

    I am a Chemist and Pharmacist and speak with some authority on this subject. Unless you know what you are doing, stay away from Muriatic acid. It is extremely hazardous!

  12. In my prior article I did not mention that Muriatic acid will dissolve most metal including brass and steel (iron). The danger in using a spray bottle is the possibility getting it in your eyes. Instant tissue scarring and blindness can occur! Just the fumes can cause major problems. Do not use a spray, the mist can get in your lungs and eyes. Use rubber gloves and a sponge to apply.

  13. A cat and possibly dog were allowed to urinate all over an exposed rock floor in an indoor hot tub room. Someone tried to clean the floor with a carpet shampoo machine, then washed with a muriatic acid mixture. When I went to the room and opened the door there was about 2 feet of a cloudy look rising from the floor. I closed the door and left. They assured me muriatic acid is what you use to clean concrete but will neutralize it with baking soda and water. Several attempts to neutralize and get rid of this terrible smell have been made as well as fans to circulate fresh air in and out. I don’t know if the smell is from the acid or
    animal urine, or a combination of the mixture. I need guidance as to what is safe for me to try and rid this problem.

  14. I listened to your video and followed instructions. Didn’t remove deposits. Used stronger Muriatic Acid – didn’t work. Went to other site – used their formula of full strength vinegar (cheap and NON TOXIC) with cheap salt, scrubbing brush. WORKED! with some elbow grease! I TAKE MY TIME to write because I believe strongly that using non toxic remedies are so important to the health of our water system, our soil, our planet.

    • Kathie, thanks for your feedback. See Joe’s reply to a similar comment below:

      “I know that vinegar is a very effective–and nontoxic–cleaner. Muriatic acid is used as a last resort when all other cleansers have failed. Thanks for writing and good luck!–Joe T.”

  15. We had a home cleaning woman that brought in a product called “The Works” which is basically hydrochloric acid. Muratic acid is hydrochloric acid too. Without my knowlege she used “The Works” to try to remove some stains on our master bath flooring tile/grout, the builder left and that she couldn’t mop up. Two times, we tried to neutralize it with baking soda mixed in water, then mopping it with clear water, but my eyes, nose and lungs still get a burning sensation when we are in that area or share air through air supply into other areas of house. Even my face skin burns in that area of the house. I’m afraid of tile removal as that just blasts the dust from it into every possible place. What can we do?

  16. Hello!
    I need a strong cleaning solution for old dingy bathroom tiles, also how do I clean the enameled old bathtub.
    Thank You!
    Kind Regards,
    Annie Domènech

  17. We hired a contractor to clean and re grout out our iinside Tyndall stone fire place which has course tyndal stones on it. Would you recommend I use Muriatic acid on it and can I spray it on and then use a bristle brush to scrub it in to get the quickrete commercial grade masonry motor type S removed from the mortar lines and the front of the tyndal stones as well on our fire place.

  18. Hi, I need help. The glass in my shower is badly stained. I’ve tried everything and cannot get it to look clean and sparkly again. Please can I have some advice how to clean it or what can I use. Many thanks in advance

  19. I have seen several methods for cleaning shower wall tile grout on the various sites. At this point I really would appreciate knowing what you consider the most effective and simple safe method. Thank you

  20. please i need your help, am trying to wash my house tiles though it a new house and the person that went and buy the chemical it seems he didnt dilute the chemical with water before using it and the tiles got damage instead of the tiles colour the tiles developed another strange color which is white colour in this case what can be use to remove this damaged so that the tiles can return back to its normal color

  21. I’ve found the simplest and safest way to get soap stains, etc off ceramic tile is with what I call porcelain screen. It’s what some people use to clean the inside of a toilet bowl and most hardware stores have it. You can only use it on porcelain and ceremic tile as far as I know.

  22. Got flooded by hurricane Harvey. It left a dirty mud on a Salento tile floor.
    Have tried vinegar, a commercial floor cleaner and an industrial floor cleaning machine (think rug cleaner but for bare floors). It couldn’t get through the stuff and was very difficult to use.
    Any suggestions? We are bow in a time crunch.

    • Hi, Joe,

      Sorry to hear about the flood damage. To answer your question, we have had a lot of success using a cleaner called TSP, which is Trisodium Phosphate. It is available at all home centers and paint stores.

      Good luck!

  23. I wanted to reuse the ceramic tiles that had covered my bathroom floor for the last 50 years or so and was having no luck getting the unknown adhesive off the tiles until I soaked them in muriatic acid (right out of the can) for an hour or two. This softened the adhesive enough to let it be brushed right off.
    Others have said to use muriatic acid as a last resort, but how many
    different kinds of solvents can you afford to buy before you realize
    that none of them work?
    You’ll want to soak the tiles outside, as the fumes from this acid are
    quite noxious and you should do it in the summer since the acid seems
    to work better when it’s warm.
    Soak the tiles in a glass or plastic container so the acid doesn’t eat a
    hole in it and wear eye protection if there’s a chance you might get
    some in your eye. Getting it on your skin doesn’t seem to hurt
    anything unless you happen to have a cut. I rinsed it off my hands
    fairly quickly so I don’t know how long it can remain on there without
    harm. It’s not like sulfuric or hydrofluoric acid that you never want
    to get on your skin.
    You might do well to test the muriatic on the back of one of your tiles
    to be sure it doesn’t do any damage. Mine came out like brand new.

    Carpet powders are instant fresheners without the need for the carpet shampoo.
    It helps the removal of stains easier as opposed to when removed after a
    certain time period of time.

  25. I got some stuff at Ace that comes whit bottle called Professional Drain Opener about $15 64oz. Spilled some on tub crud & it cleaned it completely. Turns out it’s sulphuric acid. Is it safer than muriatic acid?

  26. I’ve used diluted muriatic acid to clean my patio and fountain tiles. It foamed up and cleaned the tiles beautifully. When wet they look great but as they dry a white surface appears. What can I do to get the original color back permanently?

    • Hi, George,
      Great question! We have forwarded it to the Today’s Homeowner Radio Show’s producer.
      He will contact you soon to discuss featuring it during an upcoming show.
      Take care!


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