How to Remove Methylated Spirits (Denatured Alcohol) from Terracotta Tiles

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June asked: I have spilt some on the sealed and recently polished terracotta tiles. I can’t clean it off properly. It has gone very white. I don’t know what to use. I have scraped off a little with a blunt knife so not to scratch, but most of it is still on. Can you help please?

In this case, the methylated spirits, otherwise known as denatured alcohol, has most likely come into contact with the sealant on the tiles and a chemical reaction has occurred. It has started to break down/damage the seal on the tiles, which is what is causing the white discoloration. The only way to remove it is to strip the damaged sealant (which will include the methylated spirits) and reseal. Here are the steps to work through this process:

You Will Need:

  • Cleaning oil (ex: mineral spirits or white spirits)
  • Soft cloths
  • Tile sealant
  • Tile polish
  • Mild soap or tile cleaner
  • Water

Steps to Remove the Methylated Spirits:

  1. Begin by wiping down the stained area to remove any dirt and dust.
  2. Apply the mineral spirits, otherwise known as white spirits using a soft cloth and rub in a circular motion.
  3. Remove immediately by wiping off with a clean cloth.
  4. This should remove the white residue and will also remove any remaining glaze/sealant on the tiles.
  5. Wash the cleaned tiles with a mild soap or tile cleaner and warm water to remove any remaining spirits.
  6. Allow the tiles to dry completely before preparing to reseal.
  7. If any of the white remains, repeat on those areas to remove.
  8. When the tiles have had a chance to dry completely, it is time to reseal and polish them.
  9. Apply a sealant using the manufacturer’s directions on the packaging.
  10. When the sealant is set, apply the polish using the manufacturer’s directions.
  11. When all steps are completed, the tiles should be back to their original color and shine.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • There are several names for methylated spirits, all depending on which region of the world you are from. In the UK, Australia and New Zealand it is called metho or methylated spirits. In the United States and Canada it is known as denatured alcohol, fondue fuel or methyl hydrate (pure methanol). In Europe it is known as spirits.
  • Methylated spirits and mineral spirits are NOT the same product. Mineral spirits is a paint thinner.
  • Avoid using abrasives to when applying the mineral spirits as it can damage the surface of the tiles.
  • If you are unsure about completing this process yourself, consider having a professional strip and reseal the tiles.

Comments

  1. Jane says:

    Our sealed slate floor was contaminated with a sunblock spray and became so sticky, top layers of the slate were coming off under foot. It was cleaned with Varsol and washed afterward with soap and water.
    Before re-sealing it, should I use another cleaner?
    Thanks,
    Jane

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