How to Clean Exterior Brick in 7 Steps

Dirt and grime can steal the luster of your home’s exterior, especially if it features classic brick. While brick is durable and made to last, it too needs occasional maintenance and requires different attention than other exterior surfaces when it comes to cleaning. Harsh weather, especially winter, can be brutal on your outdoor spaces, and no one likes to clean in the cold. Use this easy, DIY brick cleaning guide to restore your home to its original charm so your house can shine during your next outdoor entertainment event.


Step 1: Choose the Right Solution

It’s important to note that not all brick is the same, which means that all brick cleaning solutions do not have the same effect. A commercial solution’s effectiveness can vary greatly between traditional burnt clay bricks and concrete, or sand lime bricks. It’s best to determine which type of brick you have and visit your local hardware store to find which cleaning solution is best for your home. 

For those that do not wish to deal with harsh chemicals, there are several natural, and more cost-effective solutions to use for cleaning your brick. One natural solution that many lean toward is a 50/50 vinegar and water mix for brick that needs to be refreshed. Not only is it safe for the kids, it can also be very cost effective.


Step 2: Protect the Area Surrounding the Brick

Protect the area surrounding the brick by placing a tarp or plastic on any type of soil, nearby plants, and vegetation. Cleaning solvents and acids, even an acid as mild as vinegar, can be harmful to plant life, so it is crucial to make sure your plants and vegetables are preserved. Solvents for grime on your brick can even react differently to the other surfaces or windows on your home, so protect non-brick surfaces as best as you can.


Step 3: Test Brick Absorption Rate 

Brick can be more porous than other surfaces and can react differently to various cleaning agents. The last thing you want to do is destroy or alter its natural color unintentionally. Test your brick absorption rate by spraying water on a small area with the garden hose. If your brick turns darker immediately, clean only a small area at a time. If it doesn’t, clean up to 100 square feet at a time. Not sure what 100 square feet looks like? Here is a guide to help visualize the square footage.


Step 4: Saturate…with Water 

Wet the area to be cleaned with the garden hose, ensuring you saturate the area you’re about to clean from the top down.


Step 5: Prevent Streaking

Because cleaning solvents and loose dirt can run down your house, saturate the area below the area you’re cleaning with water too so you can avoid unsightly streaks.


Step 6: Apply the Cleaning Solution

Now it’s time to apply. Apply your cleaning solution to your saturated area. Scrub, power wash, or hose down your surface per your cleaner’s instructions. If you use a vinegar and water solution, it is recommended you scrub the surface area with a hard-bristled brush or broom, or power spray the area after applying the solution.


Step 7: Rinse Thoroughly

Rinse the area thoroughly after cleaning, ensuring you use a large amount of water to make sure all residue from your cleaning solution is rinsed away. Remember to wash from the top to the bottom, as this ensures a thorough and even luster once your brick dries.


Brick cleaning doesn’t have to be done by a professional. With this easy 7-step DIY, your brick exterior can be restored back to its original luster in no time!

Loved this guide? Check out some more helpful tips and Do-It-Yourself guides at our Homeowners Portal.


Contributed to Your Home blog by Joshlin Grayson

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