Whether you enjoy the elegance of a brick exterior, brick pavers, fireplace or flooring, learning how to clean brick will help your brick maintain its original beauty and help this popular building material last longer. Proper safety precautions, such as wearing goggles, is recommended when cleaning this type of surface.
General Tips for Cleaning Brick
Brick is a very common type of construction material that will last for many years if well maintained. Following these tips carefully can help to preserve it.
- Before applying any cleaning products to a brick surface, make sure the surface is saturated with liquid. Failing to do so means the brick will absorb the cleaning solution, which may result in the appearance of a green stain or a white scum.
- Be sure to read the instructions on the package of any cleaning solution being used for brick and follow them carefully. A solution with a high acidic content may bleach the surface or damage the mortar holding the brick in place.
- Check the forecast before deciding to clean an exterior brick surface. The temperature should be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).
- Cleaning solutions used for brick may damage the surrounding trim. Cover any nearby surfaces made of metal, cast stone or limestone before application.
Brick Cleaning Mixture for Exterior Use
If your brick is not heavily soiled but has stains or discoloration the following cleaner may be used to remove them:
- Mix four ounces of naphtha soap (shaved) in one quart of hot water.
- Dissolve soap.
- Let mixture cool
- Add ½ pound of powdered pumice.
- Add ½ cup ammonia.
- Apply the mixture with a paintbrush and let set for one hour.
- Remove the dried mixture with a stiff-bristle brush and rinse.
- Clean one more time with a sponge and mixture of warm water with a little dishwashing soap.
- Rinse with warm water.
How to Clean Brick Pavers
Brick pavers make a popular choice for patios, pathways and driveways. Regular foot traffic makes this material vulnerable to stains from oil and food products, as well as mold.
General Cleaning for Brick Pavers
If your brick pavers aren't heavily soiled, it doesn't take a lot of work to keep them clean. Sweep them thoroughly, and wash with a solution of warm water and a household detergent. Apply with a broom and concentrate on spots that need a little extra attention. Rinse with the hose and let it dry and you're done.
Power washing is usually an effective way to remove mold and many stains, but you have to be careful not to use pressure above 3,000 psi. Higher pressure not only can damage the brick, but it can also wash away a good portion of the joint sand between the bricks.
If you need to remove stains caused by oil or grease from brick, consider using a commercial cleaner for this purpose. Another option is to hire a professional cleaning company to deal with it.
Removing Mold from Brick
Mix one part bleach to ten parts of water. Apply the bleach solution with a stiff-bristle brush and scrub. It's best to test the solution on a corner of the surface before applying it elsewhere to avoid discoloration.
How to Clean Interior Brick Surfaces
When cleaning brick surfaces inside your home, start with a simple dish soap and salt paste. This option will remove many spots and stains and is not likely to damage the surface of the brick.
- Mix equal parts of a grease-cutting dish soap and salt in a bowl or a small bucket.
- Take a clean rag and spread the paste over the surface of the brick.
- Next, take a firm-bristled brush and scrub the paste into the brick surface.
- Let the paste sit for about 10 minutes before rinsing off with a damp rag.
Removing Stubborn Stains
If the dish soap and salt paste doesn't work, a solution of boric acid and water can be used to clean brick. Add a tablespoon of boric acid to a gallon of warm water. While wearing a pair of rubber gloves, dip a scrub brush (firm bristles) into the boric acid and water solution and scrub the affected area. Rinse with a clean, wet rag.
When cleaning brick, start off with a cleaning solution that is less likely to damage the material. A detergent and water solution will remove many stains and is a safe choice for regular use. Reserve the more intense cleaning solutions for stubborn stains that cannot be removed easily.
Maintain Brick Surfaces Properly
Homeowners who want to ensure that the brick surfaces on their property last for years need to care for this material properly. Learning the techniques for cleaning brick can help you reach this goal.