Clear silicone caulk that is white, cloudy, or discolored after installation must be removed and reinstalled to get a clear finish. Begin by removing the discolored silicone caulk with a scraper. Then, clean the previously caulked area with mineral spirits to remove caulk residue. Apply painter’s tape above and below the seam that will be caulked, to make installation easy. Before re-caulking, ventilate the room to lower humidity levels, since high moisture levels cause silicone caulk to dry white instead of clear. Now you can apply a new bead of clear silicone caulk, smooth it, and remove the painter’s tape. Allow the caulk to dry for 24 hours before exposing it to any moisture.
Why Does Clear Silicone Dry White?
Clear silicone caulk remains white after drying if there is moisture trapped under the caulk at the time of installation. The caulk may also remain white after drying if it was exposed to water before it fully dried. This is because moisture clouds the caulk and makes it appear white. Without proper surface preparation and drying time, your clear silicone caulk may remain white permanently after you install it.
- Moisture trapped under the caulk will make clear caulk appear white after it dries.
- Exposing silicone sealant to water too soon after application will make it dry white.
- Silicone caulk often goes on white, but is designed to turn clear as it dries.
You may be surprised if your clear silicone caulk goes on white when you first apply it. However, this is common. Once the caulk has time to dry, it is designed to turn clear. If your clear caulk is still white 10 days after installation, then it will not turn clear on its own. The fix for this is to follow our process for proper silicone caulk application below.
8 Steps to Repair Silicone Caulk that Does Not Dry Clear
If your kitchen or bathroom caulk was supposed to dry clear but instead remained white, it’s time to remove the failed caulk and reapply it. Here are the steps to follow to fix your caulk job so that it dries clear and holds up to exposure to water.
Remove the Cloudy Caulk
Begin by scraping away the silicone caulk that refused to dry clear. There is no way to fix the problem without removing and replacing the white caulk. To remove the caulk, use this scraper with a razor blade. Carefully scrape away the caulk without scratching your bathtub, tile, or other surfaces.
- Silicone caulk that dried white instead of clear must be removed and replaced.
- There is no way to repair clear silicone caulk that dried white.
- Use a scraper or razor blade to remove the caulk.
- Dispose of the caulk you removed.
Throw the caulk into the trash after removal. Make sure to carefully scrape to remove stubborn bits of caulk that cling to bathtubs, metal shower door tracks, and tile. Remove as much of the caulk as you can with the razor blade scraper before moving to the next step.
Clean the Surface to Remove Residue
After scraping the white caulk off and disposing of it, scrub the area to remove all the filmy caulk residue. Use a scrubber pad doused in mineral spirits or denatured alcohol to remove caulk residue. If you are removing caulk from a surface that could be scratched by a scrubber pad, use a sponge instead.
- Use a scrubber pad moistened with mineral spirits or denatured alcohol to clean caulk residue from previously caulked seams.
- When removing caulk residue from delicate surfaces, use a sponge with mineral spirits or denatured alcohol.
- Wear protective gloves, like these ones, when working with mineral spirits and denatured alcohol.
Always wear heavy-duty gloves when working with mineral spirits or denatured alcohol. These substances can dry out and irritate your skin. However, do not skip this step. Removing caulk residue is essential to make sure new caulk dries clear.
Apply Painter’s Tape
Once you’ve removed the caulk residue, tape off the seams that will be caulked. This is done by applying a strip of painter’s tape on either side of the seam you need to caulk. The two lines of tape should be at least ¼-inch (6 mm) apart and should not obstruct the seam.
- Apply painter’s tape along either side of the seams that need to be caulked.
- Allow at least ¼-inch (6 mm) between the lines of the painter’s tape, so the seams can be adequately caulked.
- Applying tape allows you to make a professional caulk installation.
By taping off these lines, you ensure a clean, easy silicone caulk installation. Without painter’s tape, installing silicone caulk can be messy. Silicone is notoriously sticky and hard to remove from surfaces. Using painter’s tape eliminates this mess.
Ventilate and Dehumidify the Room
Before caulking, open the windows in the room, if the weather permits. Clear silicone caulk is most likely to dry white if it is applied in a humid or moist environment. This is especially problematic in bathrooms and kitchens.
- If possible, open windows and turn on ventilation fans to remove excess moisture from the room.
- If you do not open windows to ventilate the room, run this dehumidifier before, during, and after caulking.
- Removing excess moisture to the room helps silicone caulk dry clear.
If you prefer, run a dehumidifier in the room instead of opening the windows. Run the dehumidifier for 2 hours prior to caulking, throughout the caulking process, and for 24 hours after applying the caulk. This will draw moisture out of the air and ensure the caulk dries clear.
Caulk the Seams
With the room prepared, it’s time to begin re-caulking. First, prepare your silicone caulk by cutting the tip of the caulk tube at an angle. Start with a very small opening and make further cuts to enlarge the hole the caulk flows out of. Then, load the caulk tube into a caulk gun.
- Use a knife to cut the tip off this clear silicone caulk at an angle.
- Insert the tube of caulk into a caulk gun.
- Apply caulk to the seams you taped off in previous steps.
With your caulking gun loaded, squeeze the trigger as you move the tip of the caulk tube along the seams you have taped off. Apply an even layer of caulk that fills the seam. It is okay if the caulk application does not look smooth at this stage.
Smooth the Caulk
Once you have applied caulk to all the seams you have taped off, it’s time to smooth the caulk. To do this, run your finger or a caulk-smoothing tool along the beads of caulk you have applied. This will make a smooth finish for the caulk.
- Use your finger or this caulking tool to smooth the caulk applied to the seams.
- Wear protective gloves while smoothing caulk.
- Dip your gloved finger or caulking tool in mineral spirits to prevent caulk from sticking.
In order to prevent the caulk from sticking to your finger, wear protective gloves and dab your finger in mineral spirits or denatured alcohol. Similarly, it can be helpful to dip your caulk-smoothing tool in mineral spirits to prevent the silicone caulk from sticking.
Remove the Painter’s Tape
After smoothing the caulk, remove the painter’s tape. Pull the tape directly away from the surface, working slowly and carefully. This will prevent the tape from ruining the finish of the caulk.
- Remove the painter’s tape along the caulked seams.
- Be careful to avoid letting the tape disturb the smooth finish of the caulk.
- Do not further smooth the caulk after removing the tape.
Once you remove the tape, you will be left with smooth, precise seams of caulk. Do not attempt to smooth the caulk further after removing the tape. This could ruin the appearance of the caulked seams.
Wait Until the Caulk is Fully Dry
It is essential to allow the silicone caulk to dry undisturbed for at least 24 hours. Do not use any sinks, showers, or other fixtures that have been caulked during this time. Additionally, do not expose any of the caulk to moisture or water. Exposing caulk to water before it fully dries is the number one cause of caulk that dries white instead of clear.
- Allow 24 hours for the caulk to dry before using any water fixtures near the caulk.
- Do not expose the caulk to water or moisture during this 24-hour period.
- If the room is not ventilated, run a dehumidifier for 24 hours to ensure the caulk dries clear.
It is a great idea to run a dehumidifier for 24 hours in the room that has been caulked. This can help ensure the caulk dries with a perfect finish. By following all of these steps, your silicone caulk will dry to a clear, professional finish.
How Do You Fix Discolored Silicone Caulk?
Silicone caulk that dries white instead of clear cannot be repaired. It must be replaced to achieve a clear finish. In order to properly remove and install new clear silicone caulk properly, follow these steps:
- Use a scraper to remove the discolored caulk from the seams.
- Scrub the caulk seams with a scrubber pad doused in mineral spirits to remove caulk residue.
- Apply painter’s tape on either side of the seams that must be caulked.
- Ventilate the room, or run a dehumidifier before, during, and after caulking.
- Apply caulk to the seams that have been taped off.
- Smooth the caulk along the seams.
- Remove the painter’s tape.
- Allow 24 hours for the silicone caulk to dry clear.
This process results in a high-quality, clear silicone sealant finish. By properly cleaning away the old caulk and providing a dry environment for the caulk to cure, you will achieve a professional silicone caulk finish in your bathroom, kitchen, and elsewhere in your home.