How to Clean Exterior Brick

Masonry is widely recognized as an exceptionally durable and low-maintenance building material, however, it does require some cleaning from time to time. Knowing how to clean exterior brick and interior brick will help your brick last as long as possible and look its absolute best at the same time.

How To Clean Interior and Exterior Brick

From exterior brick siding to an interior fireplace, here are a few tips on how to clean brick properly and safely.

moss on brick wall

Moss and Mold

It’s not unusual for moss or mold to grow on exterior masonry, especially when the area is shaded for most of the day. But it’s an easy fix.

Simply mix a cup of bleach with one gallon of warm water and apply it on the wall with a natural or nylon-bristled scrub brush.

We recommend not using a wire brush as it will most likely leave tiny bits of metal on the masonry that will rust over time.

Be careful to use very light pressure so you don’t damage the masonry.

You should also be sure not to let the bleach and water mixture spill or drip on any plants or foliage.

how to clean efflorescence off brick

Efflorescence

Knowing how to remove efflorescence is a valuable skill for homeowners with interior and/or exterior masonry.

Efflorescence is a crystalline deposit of salts that can be found when moisture is present within or on brick, block, stone, or concrete.

As water passes through masonry and eventually evaporates, salts are dissolved and left behind on the surface.

Efflorescence has a white or greyish tint and typically appears as a powdery substance. While it’s a common sight in many areas around the country, a little special care should remove it quite easily.

Efflorescence is usually a seasonal problem, especially in Colorado, as humidity impacts whether the salts will appear.

Rain, sleet, and snow are common culprits of efflorescence.

Many times it will disappear on its own over time but many masons recommend removing it within 60 days. It’s within those first two months that it’s still soluble.

If it doesn’t dissipate, many masons recommend using white vinegar or a dilute solution of white vinegar and water to remove it.

Apply the vinegar directly to the masonry using a nylon-bristled scrub brush.

Again, do not use a wire-bristled brush as it can damage the masonry surface.

Similar to when removing moss and mold, ensure that the vinegar does not spill on any plants as it may kill them.

Be sure to use light pressure so you don’t damage the masonry surface.

dirt and soot on brick

Dirt, Dust, and Soot

Prior to washing dirty masonry, use a vacuum to remove loose dirt and debris.

HGTV recommends using a natural cleanser that can be made at home.

Use two tablespoons of cream of tartar with a small amount of water to make a paste.

Apply the mixture to your masonry and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Then simply rinse with warm water and wipe off with a soft cloth that won’t damage your brick, block, or stone.

For much larger areas like a brick wall or floor, mix equal parts vinegar and water.

Pour the cleaner into a spray bottle and apply it to the surface. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

Finally, use a mop or soft cloth to scrub off the cleaner from the masonry surface, ensuring that you aren’t causing any damage.

Rinse with warm water. An alternative cleanser recipe is equal parts vinegar and water. Use the same application method stated above.

With that, you should be able to keep your interior and exterior brick lasting long and looking great!

Contact us if you’d like other tips or further assistance with cleaning and/or staining your interior or exterior brick.