Cleaning Interior and Exterior Brick
How often do you clean the brick walls of your house or your brick fireplace?
Brick may look clean and in many places I’m sure it’s probably cleaner than other areas. You may give more attention to the fireplace or kitchen area rather than an outside wall surrounded by shrubs.
If you don’t clean your brick often, take a big swipe off one of the bricks in your home or from around the fireplace, and see what comes off it.
I bet you’re thinking, “What in the..?” And staring at your dirty hand in disbelief. You’re not alone!
Here’s my list of high powered cleaning tips, and everything you’ll need to return your dirty brick to greatness.
Cleaning Interior Brick
Cleaning Tools Needed
- High powered vacuum cleaner with brush attachment or long handled brush
- Nylon brush for fireplace
- Laundry detergent/ounce of salt – depending on the size of your fireplace
- TSP for hard to remove stains
- Cloth to dry bricks
I’m a little nervous on a ladder, so to make my life easier I put my vacuum cleaner on a trolley that wheels along with me as I clean from high above. It’s not glamorous to struggle while you clean, so making it easy for yourself is important.
Brick Cleaning Process Around the Fireplace
Follow the steps below to get your fireplace brick soot free and clean.
1. To get those bricks around the fireplace squeaky clean, mix some laundry detergent and an ounce of salt with just enough water to make a paste.
2. Use a damp cloth to thoroughly apply the cleaning solution to the stained bricks.
3. Wait for 15 minutes.
4. Once it’s dry, brush it off with a nylon brush.
5. If any soot stains remain, vinegar works like magic to remove it and grime. Apply with a wet rag and brush off.
The difference is instant and long lasting. Now you can grab a handful of brick and get nothing on your hands except little red marks. Paradise!
Heavy Duty Brick Cleaning
Try TSP or Tri-sodium Phosphate. This is a strong cleaning solution and is used by professional smoke and fire damage cleaning companies. You can purchase TSP at the grocery store or home improvement stores.
Because this is such a strong cleaner be sure to wear rubber gloves and use eye protection. Avoid getting TSP on skin, walls, carpet, or fabrics.
1. Mix 1/2 cup of TSP in 1 gallon of hot water. If needed, more TSP can be used-up to 1 cup per gallon of water.
2. Scrub the brick with a scrub brush dipped in the cleaning solution.
3. When done, rinse completely with warm water.
Repeating the process may be necessary if soot or greasy stains remain.
Cleaning Exterior Brick
Exterior brick and face brick are made to be low maintenance and to appear clean even though they aren’t clean at all.
Doing a good scrub after heavy rainfall or after months of the sprinkler splatting dirt onto the house will help keep your brick looking as clean as it (seemingly) looks. Do at least a once a year cleaning of the exterior brick.
Normal Dirt and Grime
- Hose pipe with nozzle spray attachment
- Broom or stiff brush
- Heavy duty vacuum cleaner
- Dress in clothes that you aren’t particularly attached to, this can be dirty work.
- Put your hose on full and wash off all the dust and debris that’s collected over the months.
- Work from left to right and make sure to remove all the cobwebs and muck using the different spray settings. Don’t stand too close to the wall, or you’ll get a generous helping of dirt in your face.
- Sweep away the mess with a broom or carefully use the stiff bristled brush.
- Rake up any debris into a pile or if there is very little debris, use a heavy duty vacuum cleaner to pick up the extra bits and pieces.
Cleaning Stubborn Stains on Exterior Brick
Cleaning brick can be an all-day event, but on a nice sunny day, it’s all the reason I need to catch up on my tan, while doing something constructive.
For cleaning stubborn stains, mix 1/2 cup ammonia to a bucket of water. Scrub the brick with a firm broom or carefully with a stiff brush. Rinse well.
Cleaning Brick of Moss and Mold
If your brick has been very wet you may start to see moss or mold growing. If this is the case for you, get out your cleaning gear and supplies and let’s fix the situation.
- Rubber dish gloves
- Firm plastic spatula or stiff broom
- Bucket with bleach and water
- Hose and nozzle for rinsing
First mix your bleach solution in the bucket. Use 4 parts water to 1 part bleach. Put your goggles on. Next, either using the spatula or stiff broom, scrape the moss or mold from the surface of the brick as best you can.
Don’t worry about getting every last bit, you will most likely need to repeat the process.
Now, apply the wash of bleach and water to the brick (don’t be stingy). Let this sit for the day or overnight depending on the amount of growth.
Rinse with the hose and check to see the progress. You really should repeat the process because you want to kill off any spores that might be lingering behind.
Hard to Get Mold or Mosses
If after you have cleaned the mold or moss off the side of the house and you are still seeing traces of black in the tiny holes of the brick, use a stronger solution of bleach/water. Mix 50/50 in a spray bottle, spray the surface, scrub, and let it sit a day or two.
After allowing it to sit, rinse and check the progress again. Once again, you may want to repeat the process.
Words of Caution
- If you should use a power washer on the face of your brick, be sure to use a low pressure spray as a high pressure spray can damage and change the look of your brick. This can be especially true if you have old crumbling brick.
- If you are noticing a white film (looks like powdery material) on your brick, it could be efflorescence. Efflorescence is caused by excessive moisture. Again, don’t use a pressure washer to clean. If it is efflorescence find the source of the problem, get it fixed and clean with water as mentioned above for normal dirt and grime.
The brick on your house is beautiful and worth any time you might have to spend to make it look its best.