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How to Remove Dried Thinset from Tile [5 Easy Steps]

Tile installation can get really messy. But what’s worse is if you leave the mess unchecked. It’s common for thinset to scatter during installation. If not removed instantly, they get dried and stick stubbornly to your tiles. They are extremely difficult to remove.

How to remove dried thinset from tile?

We can remove the thinset by using a cloth soaked in soap water. Use soapy water to loosen the thinset. You can push or gently tap a 5 in 1 scraper against the cloth to scrape the thinset out. This prevents the tiles from getting scratch marks. Additionally, you can use a pudding knife directly, but gently. Acidic cleaners are efficient alternatives.

This is simply a basic summarized concept. Please browse through this essay if you want to learn more in-depth. 

I’ve written a thorough guideline detailing the process in 5 steps. If this interests you, read along!

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s delve right into it!

What Makes Thin Sets So Stubborn

Have you ever wondered how your beautiful tiles are sticking to your walls? The answer is the application of thinsets between your wall and the tiles you want. 

Thinsets are essentially a type of adhesive that attaches your tiles to the walls. 

While working with thinset, it’s more common than you might think for things to get messy. Especially because it tends to spread out of place during application. 

Don’t worry, this happens to both novices and experts. 

It could happen due to a lack of time. Maybe you lost your attention and forgot to clean it immediately. 

And, over time it dried and sticks to your tile like neodymium magnets. Oof, that can be a huge hassle. 

In these times, it’s vital to remove thinset from your tiles. But don’t get it confused with marble tiles grout cleaning process.

Luckily, we can equip you with the right tools and tips. These will help you get this seemingly impossible process of cleaning dried thinset accomplished. Even if you have to remove thinset from the subfloor, it is do-able with some simple steps.

So let’s look at what we need before starting to remove thinset from tiles.

What You’ll Need

It’s a given that dried thinset won’t come off just with our bare hands. So we’ll need a couple of tools to remove it from our tiles-

  • Bucket
  • Soapy Water
  • Damp Cloth
  • Spray bottle
  • 5 in 1 Scraper
  • Sponge
  • Putty Knife
  • White vinegar/ Muriatic Acid

These essentials are exactly what you need. Sponges and brushes are also used to clean stone tile showers. 

All of these combined will remove any type of thinset you might have on your tiles. 

Removing Dried Thinset in 5 Steps

Step 1: Wipe Away

The thinset appears dry when you touch it with bare hands. But if the drying period is less, wiping it can remove it. So start off by grabbing a bucket. 

Now, fill it with soapy water and soak a piece of cloth in it. 

Try wiping the floor with your damp cloth. Use your fingertip to add extra pressure. 

If the thinset hasn’t dried for too long, this should remove it.

Step 2: Use a Brush Or Sponge

To add another layer of intensity. You should incorporate a brush or a sponge. Soak the brush or sponge in soapy water.

If you’re using a brush, use the bristles to loosen the thinset, and then wipe with a cloth.

If you’re using a sponge, firstly apply pressure to lather around the area of the thinset. Then wipe thoroughly using decent pressure to clear your tiles. 

You can also use brushes to clean mortar off of brick as well.

Step 3: The Scraping Method

Scrappers are also known as thinset removal tools. Many people often believe that scraping will leave scratch marks on the tiles. 

But, worry not! We’ve got just the right method from you. 

So, what you want to do is find a very thin cloth. Soak the thin cloth in soapy water. Next, we need our scrapper. We prefer a 5 in 1 scraping tool.

Now place your cloth on the thinset area. Now we press our scrapper down exactly in the thinset area. Then we’re going to start gently pushing, to scrape the thinset off.

Additionally, we can put our 5 in 1 right next to the thinset and gently tap the tool to force the thinset off. 

Take a look at our scrapper recommendations:

Product 1
Product 2

These scrappers should be very effective in scraping any sort of mortars off. 

Step 4: Pudding Knife

If the thinsets aren’t gone, what you can use is a pudding knife.

Step 5: Acidic Cleansers

If the previous methods didn’t fully remove the thinset, it’s time to use the big guns. Acidic cleaners are strong cleaning agents. 

They will loosen to the thinset to ease its removal process. 

White vinegar is a great choice when using acidic cleaners. Alternatively, you can also use Muriatic Acid to get rid of excess mortar. Vinegar is also used to fix uneven grout lines.

Please refer to the ‘safety precautions’ section above when using Acidic cleansers. This is because these cleaners use harsh chemicals. 

These processes should be enough to get thinset or mortar off of your tile. Finish the process by vacuuming and then wiping the floor to remove any thinset clouds. 

Safety Precautions

Now, you might be wondering if precautions are even necessary. And keep in mind that you can use different thinset for different tiles. Suppose, if you are going for porcelain tile and its complementary thinset, research about it first.

While the risk factor is essentially low, injuries have happened. And we aren’t going to leave you at risk without any warnings.

So, if possible, try to wear a glove. Also, don’t try to hasten the process. Most injuries occur when trying to use the scrapper at a fast pace. 

Remember slow and steady always wins the race. 

In case of an injury, try to keep a first aid kit nearby. This will help to take immediate counter-actions.

Lastly, you might need to work with acidic cleansers which contain harsh chemicals. 

You need to use appropriate protective gear when using them. Wear gloves and a respirator when dealing with these harsh chemicals. 

Additionally, do remember to keep airflow running when using acidic cleaners.

The next time you are tiling a part of your home. You can mix thinset in small batches to save both time & money.


Question: Why do we need respirators when using acidic cleansers?

Answer: Respirators are needed because of the presence of harmful chemicals. These can cause us to suffocate. 

Question: How much do 5 in 1 scraping tools cost?

Answer: They are sold on amazon for around $5 to $8.

Question: How can we neutralize the acid?

Answer: A mixture of ammonia and water will neutralize the acid completely. 


That’s all we have on ‘how to remove dried thinset from tile’. If you require any further help, please consult a professional.

We hope our article has been of value to you and has helped you through this. 

Till then, take care of yourself, and of course, your tiles. 

Best of luck!