How to Clean a Dirty Brick Wall
Brick is an affordable building material used both inside and out. By keeping your walls clean, they will stay beautiful while remaining in great condition.
Start by sweeping or wiping away any loose debris to reduce its chance of turning into sludge during cleaning. Next, dampen the surface using a spray bottle filled with clean water.
Brick surfaces require regular cleaning in order to preserve their luster and prevent stains. Indoor and outdoor brick can become stained from dirt, mildew or soot from fireplace use if left untreated, leaving behind unsightly marks or dull appearance. However, you don’t have to hire professional cleaners; DIY is usually sufficient in getting most stains removed from indoor and outdoor walls.
Before applying any cleaner to any surface, it is necessary to clear it of debris. On walls this means removing pictures and furniture; for mantles and fireplaces this means clearing away decorations or fire tools; on outdoor brick this may include covering grass or plants with tarp. Also ensure rubber or latex gloves are worn as some cleaning solvents used on brick are harmful to children or animals so make sure that there is enough ventilation around you when working in such an environment.
If your brick wall is relatively clean, a simple wipe down with warm water should suffice. But for heavily stained or soiled areas, more aggressive action may be needed – try using natural cleaners like dish soap with salt or boric acid in equal parts as a first step before misting with water from a spray bottle to saturate its surface beforehand.
Now apply a cleaning solution using a soft bristled brush on brick surfaces, allow it to sit for 10 minutes, and scrub with nylon brush before rinsing with garden hose or bucket of water.
Trisodium phosphate (TSP), one of the strongest solvents available, works exceptionally well to clean both indoor and exterior brick surfaces. When applying it using a soft brush it’s important to follow all instructions provided on its label for optimal use; be wary if metal, wood or glass come into contact with this cleaner; therefore cover such surfaces with a tarp first before beginning!
2. Trisodium Phosphate
Trisodium phosphate (TSP), available at hardware and home improvement stores, is an efficient cleaning agent, degreaser and stain remover that also serves to prepare surfaces for painting. When cleaning brick surfaces with TSP, dirt and oil from their surfaces are removed while helping loosen sticky stains that have formed on brickwork and mortar surfaces. When handling TSP with caution and wear safety goggles before spraying with water from your garden hose – and make sure all floors and furnishings close by are covered beforehand as TSP can cause irreparable damage upon contact with wood, vinyl or any other material surfaces!
TSP should be applied to brick surfaces and left for 10 minutes or until you see dirt dissolving, before using a scrub brush or nylon bristled scrubbing pad to scrub them clean. Once complete, rinse off with warm water to eliminate any remaining TSP before giving a second rinse with warm water to make sure all is removed from your surface.
Dry brick can easily absorb cleaning solvents, which can discolor or etch its surface. To avoid this from happening, the Brick Industry Association suggests pre-wetting the brick surface with clear water before applying any cleaners such as TSP cleaner. Next, apply TSP cleaner and wipe down with a sponge saturated in TSP solution before wiping back off using another saturated sponge to avoid reinjecting dirt or other stains onto its surface. Be sure to change and rinse regularly!
Unless scrubbing works to remove the stain, try natural cleaners like baking soda or vinegar to create an organic solution. Baking soda has proven especially useful against tar, smoke and grease stains on brick walls or fireplaces; alternatively you could create a paste from equal parts of dish soap and salt and apply this paste directly onto three by three foot sections of bricks before leaving it sit for around 10 minutes before rinsing and repeating until all spots have been cleaned away.
Ultimately, muriatic acid may be necessary in order to completely remove any stubborn stain. Because this highly toxic chemical can dissolve the thin layer of mortar that holds brick together, it is imperative that any previous cleaners or treatments be thoroughly rinsed off of brick before proceeding with muriatic acid usage.
3. Muriatic Acid
Muriatic acid is an industrial-strength solvent designed to quickly remove tough stains caused by rust, soil or mortar from brick surfaces. Due to its highly dangerous nature, full safety gear such as rubber gloves, goggles and a respirator should always be worn when handling or using muriatic acid cleaner. Be sure to pre-wet the surface with water prior to applying muriatic acid cleaner and always test a small area first before putting all over. Afterward, thoroughly rinse it off using your garden hose so as to get rid of any remaining muriatic acid residue.
Basic soap solutions may be enough to clean a brick wall, but for persistent dirt and discoloration you may require stronger solvents such as dish soap mixed with warm water, bleach formula, or muriatic acid.
Efflorescence is an all too familiar issue with outdoor brick, often appearing as white or grey crystallized salts that can be difficult to clear away with brushing alone. An acidic cleaner such as muriatic or phosphoric acids should work best when it comes to eliminating this buildup of salts from brick surfaces.
Before applying any of these stronger cleaning solvents, saturate the brick surface with water to minimize absorption by the solvent and leave behind unsightly green or white discolorations marks. A spray bottle filled with water should suffice.
After spraying down the brick surface, either scrub with nylon or natural bristle brushes to loosen dirt, or mix one part acid to three parts water in a bucket and dip a nylon scrub brush into it before applying it in small sections to brick surface using small sections before rinsing with water hose.
Scrubbing brick requires using a soft bristle brush of either nylon or natural bristle material that won’t scratch its surface and cause more harm than good. If any traces of cleaner remain after using this method, neutralize them using baking soda mixed in warm water as soon as you detect them.
Brick walls indoors and out can accumulate grime that’s difficult to shift. If you’re ready to give them the attention they deserve, start by sweeping or wiping down the surface to remove loose dirt and dust before vacuuming if possible; vacuuming may need to be repeated afterwards for effective results. Vacuuming will also work but will likely need another sweep afterward to keep any residual dry dirt from turning into sludge when met with cleaning solution. This step will prevent dry dirt that’s left behind from turning into sludge when met by cleaning solvent.
Once the loose dirt has been cleared away, select a cleaner suitable to the type and condition of brick you have. If it’s new or pristine, consider using mild cleaners like trisodium phosphate or buffered construction cleaner, while for older brick that has seen better days bleach or muriatic acid may be required to restore its color. It is a good idea to test any cleaner in an inconspicuous spot before applying it liberally across walls; this allows you to detect discolorations caused by harsh chemical cleaners as well as selecting appropriate amounts when applying them over large expanses of wall.
Before beginning with any cleaning solution, it is recommended that a gentle approach be taken and progress to more extreme solutions as necessary. You may wish to cover surrounding surfaces, such as plants, doors, windows and bushes, with a tarp for protection from cleaning solutions; also wear rubber rainboots and an old shirt you do not mind getting dirty during scrubbng and spraying sessions.
When cleaning an outdoor brick wall, it’s advisable to begin by clearing away dead grass or leaves with either a broom or blower, in order to prevent debris from sinking into grout lines and discoloring the brick surface. Once that’s completed, use your garden hose to wet down all brick surfaces with water so the cleaning solution penetrates deeper. Wait 10 minutes before applying bleach solution in small sections at a time, rinsing each area thoroughly after each application of bleach solution.