Homemade Brick Cleaning Solution
There are many places around the home where brick can be located, a patio, a walkway, an outdoor barbecue, the brick around the fireplace, etc.
Maybe it’s getting close to the Christmas holiday and you want to clean the brick surrounding the fireplace of dirt and soot before Santa comes?
Maybe you are sprucing up the backyard and want to clean the patio for all the outdoor barbecues you’re planning?
Whatever the reason, there’s no better time to learn how to make your own homemade brick cleaning solution.
Cleaning Indoor Brick
There are two major types of indoor brick dirt: dust and soot. I love the soft glow and comfort from a fire in a fireplace. Having clean brick around the fireplace adds a nice touch to your home, especially in the colder months when it’s in use more frequently.
Vacuum the Dust
To get rid of the dust, simply vacuum the brick around the mantle, hearth and sides regularly, at least try and do this. Regular cleanings will save you from having to do some major cleaning down the road.
By cleaning the brick often, you'll also reduce the amount of soot that clings to it when you light a fire.
I use a shop vac for this chore. Not only will you be vacuuming up dust but possibly soot and brick dust which can be fine and abrasive.
Be sure your vacuum has a filter and collection bag in place. If you don’t have these items on the shop vac it can cause performance issues and also release dust back into the room.
Cleaning Soot from Brick
If you are cleaning soot from a fireplace, the best way to go is start with the mildest solution first and then work your way up.
Below are the things you’ll need:
- Rubber or latex-free gloves
- Eye protection
- Old, clean cloth
- Drop cloth
- Stiff or hard-bristled brush
The Cleaning Process
Lay the drop cloth in front of the fireplace to protect the floor from water runoff then put on the gloves and eye protection. When cleaning, work from the top of the stain and work your way down.
If you clean your brick on a regular basis, all you might need is warm water and a scrub brush to clean the brick.
After cleaning with plain water, if there is still some soot left, refill the bucket with clean warm water and add a little dish detergent (use a detergent that works at cutting grease and about 1 tablespoon per gallon of water), swish the water to mix in the detergent.
Cleaning a Light Amount of Soot from Fireplace
For a job that may require a little something stronger, Simple Green may get the job done. Spray Simple Green on the brick and scrub with the brush. Let this sit about 5 minutes.
Completely rinse the scrub brush of all traces of the Simple Green. Fill a bucket with warm water and rinse the brick by dipping the scrub brush in the water and go back over the Simple Green until all traces are gone. Be sure to rinse the brush in the water after each time you scrub the brick.
Cleaning a More Heavy Amount of Soot from Fireplace
If you have a heavy amount of soot on the fireplace, try the recipe below; adjust amounts according to your needs.
Brick Cleaning Solution
- Two ounces of dish washing soap
- Two ounces of kosher salt (you can use regular salt if you don't have kosher salt)
- Mix the dish soap and the salt in the bucket
- Add enough water to make a creamy paste
Apply the cleaning solution into the brick using the scrub brush. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Scrub again then rinse the solution from the brick.
Heavy Duty Brick Cleaner
If the soot doesn’t come off with the dish soap and salt solution, add in 1/4 cup of ammonia to the cleaning mixture.
The ammonia will be much more harsh on the brick, so be careful. Test the mixture first on an extra brick or one that is hidden in the back of the fireplace.
Ammonia can be strong so be sure to have a window open if you use it.
Cleaning Outdoor Patio Brick
Before you clean your outdoor brick, pressure wash the patio using a lower pressure spray, this may be all you need to remove most of the mold, mildew and dirt from the brick and make the actual cleaning and scrubbing easier.
If you have old brick and you are concerned that a pressure washer might damage the brick or chunk out pieces of the mortar, you can wet the patio and use a push broom to clean or contact a professional.
- Add two tablespoons of borax to every gallon of water.
Using a hard-bristled long-handled brush, scrub the patio.
Work in sections by pouring a bit of the solution on the brick and then scrubbing.
If you have rust stains from a dripping faucet or hose, use a commercial rust cleaner like Zud instead of the borax mixture.
Rinse with the hose when you're done using the cleaning solution.
Removing Mold and Mildew from Outside Brick
If mold and mildew won't come off with the power washer or the borax, try using Stain Solver Oxygen Bleach which is non-toxic and should not harm your plants. Follow the instructions for mixing and the process for cleaning.
If the brick has a heavy amount of mold and mildew, you are going to have to scrub good and hard and it may be best to work in manageable sections. Rinse completely when finished.
If you take the time to clean your brick and do a good job, you’ll keep your brick looking good and keep it in good shape for years to come.