Step-By-Step Guide: How To Clean Stone Bricks

It’s that time of the year; you comfortably sit by the fireplace and enjoy your favourite beverage while you relax from a long day. Nothing can disrupt you from this magical moment. While you take a sip from your teacup, you start noticing something above the fireplace; these beautifully built stone bricks are beginning to look dirtier day by day and with a ton of smudges.

Stone Wall covered with efflorescence

“Great”, now that relaxing feeling is gone. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Cleaning bricks may seem challenging to do, but it’s not! Whether it’s for your house interior or exterior, we’ve prepared for you a complete guide on the DIY cleaning methods you may use to keep your stone shining and at its finest. After all, you deserve to enjoy your tea uninterrupted this time!

How to clean brick interior step-by-step

For many of us, the interior of our house is our little palace. We want to keep our place clean and tidy at all times. Stone bricks that elegantly upgrade your home decor can be added to your cleaning schedule. Here’s how:

1. Basic cleaning

With this simple method, you need to take a slightly wet sponge and start scrubbing the surfaces that need cleaning thoroughly. This method is typically recommended for everyday use as it’s more effective for fresh stains and grimes.

2. Using warm water

Similar to the previous method but with the use of warm water, which can dilute some of the stains on your stone wall quickly:

  • Wet a sponge with warm, clean water.
  • Carefully clean the bricks that you want while rinsing the sponge as you go.
  • If needed, target more stubborn stains with a scrub brush by scrubbing vigorously.
  • Clean the sponge you used and use it again to take care of all the surfaces you’ve previously scrubbed.

Bucket and sponge

3. Using cream of tartar

We recommend buying a cream of tartar that will last as you might need it in the future. Here’s what you’ll need to do while using this magical cleaning product:

  • Make sure you’ve correctly wet the brick walls.
  • Create a mixture of cream of tartar and clean water to make a paste. You can use a bowl for this step.
  • Apply the smooth paste on the surface of your choosing and let the chemical reaction do its business for about 10 minutes.
  • Rinse it with warm water.
  • Repeat the process to get rid of any stubborn stains.

4. Using vinegar

It wouldn’t be a complete guide without vinegar; you’ve guessed that right. Here’s how you can use this powerful friend of yours:

  • Wet the brick you need to with plain water.
  • Take a clean spray bottle and fill it with equal amounts of white vinegar and water.
  • Shake the bottle to make sure the vinegar is equally distributed.
  • Spray this cleaning solution to the surfaces you need to.
  • Let it sit for a few minutes to penetrate the dirt.
  • Respray the bricks.
  • Gently use a wet sponge on all the surfaces you’ve previously used the sprayer on.
  • Dissolve some baking soda in a bowl of warm water.
  • Rinse the bricks with the baking soda water. This step is mandatory to neutralise the vinegar and avoid any harm to your brickwork.
  • Rinse again with plain water.

Note: We recommend using this method on houses built after 2000 due to the nature of white vinegar being acidic.

Glass jar with white vinegar on a black table

5. Using dish soap and baking soda

This method works best on areas around the fireplace or even the walls of that room where soot from the heat is created:

  • Moisten the bricks with plain water.
  • In a deep bowl, create a mixture of dish soap and baking soda. The suggested amount should be ½ cup of soda to 3 tablespoons of soap. You can add more drops of soap if you need to, just don’t overdo it!
  • Stir the mixture until the paste is created.
  • Spread the paste with a spatula or something similar all over the brick’s grimes.
  • Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • With a sponge or a soft brush, scrub away all the dirt.
  • Rinse with warm water.

Baking soda with sponge and towel on wooden table

6. Using dish soap and salt

Similar to the previous method but with the addition of a powerful ingredient: Salt!

  • Wet the bricks with a sprayer or a moist sponge.
  • In a bowl, mix the dish soap and the salt to create a firm paste.
  • Apply a thick layer of the mixture to the bricks and allow it to be absorbed for 10 minutes.
  • Scrub vigorously but carefully with a stiff brush.
  • Rinse the surfaces with warm water until any remaining detergent is gone completely.
  • Use a dry cloth to remove any salt crystals that got left behind.

7. Using boric acid and water

Best for indoor and outdoor purposes, we recommend using this cleaning solution on bricks that aren’t too old. Before you proceed with the steps, wearing rubber gloves is a MUST!

  • Make sure all the bricks that need to be cleaned are properly wet.
  • In a big bucket or bowl, create a mixture of boric acid with clean water. The recommended ratio is one tablespoon of acid to 4 litres of water.
  • While stirring the mix, you should be careful not to cause any splashes. You are working with acid, so be extra cautious!
  • If you haven’t worn your rubber gloves until now, now is the time for sure! Proceed with caution while using a clean sponge or brush to apply the mixture to the bricks.
  • Let it sit on the surface for 5 minutes, maximum. Don’t let it for any longer as it might harm your stone surfaces.
  • Use a scrub brush gently and in a circular motion
  • Rinse with warm water.

Rubber gloves cleaning products and bucket

8. Using foaming bathroom cleaner

Bathroom cleaners are cleaning products that are designed to remove any grime from your home’s interior. Your stone bricks are no exception!

  • Make sure the brick walls you are going to clean are properly wet.
  • Apply the cleaner to only the areas affected and try not to overdo it.
  • You can let the cleaning solution sit for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Scrub the surface carefully and thoroughly with a soft sponge.
  • Finish off with rinsing with warm water.

9. Using ammonia and dish soap

Ammonia; the ultimate stain removal! Here is how you can use this powerful ally to clean any dirt from your stone surfaces. Even muriatic acid would be jealous!

  • Make sure the surfaces are wet.
  • ALWAYS wear kitchen gloves before creating a mixture of ammonia and dish soap.
  • We recommend using 2 litres of water to ½ cup of ammonia and ¼ cup of dish detergent.
  • You can use a bucket or, even better, a spraying bottle for this process.
  • Spray or apply the cleaner to the bricks.
  • Use a scrub brush for all the necessary spots.
  • Rinse with warm water.

Liquid Ammonia Bottle

10. Using trisodium phosphate (TSP)

Our last method for the interior cleaning part and most effective one. It is recommended to use this method on more stubborn surfaces with repellent stains. Using rubber gloves and even goggles is a huge MUST! Here’s how:

  • Make sure the bricks are well wet.
  • In a cleaning bucket, mix 4 litres of warm water with ⅛ cup of trisodium phosphate. Again, don’t proceed with these steps if you don’t wear gloves!
  • While you stir the mixture, be extremely careful to not create even the tiniest splash.
  • Apply the cleaning solution using a soft brush on the brick only.
  • Continue to scrub with a soft sponge or a new brush.
  • Rinse with water as many times as needed to make sure any remnants of TSP are gone.

TIP: No matter what, don’t mix TSP with other cleaning products like bleach or calcium. The chemical reaction can produce poisonous fumes.

How to clean exterior brick step-by-step

Now that you know everything about cleaning bricks inside your residence, it’s time we move to the outer part. Whether it’s mildew created from gutters or lichen and moss that grow on your natural stone, you can deal with it quickly and without the need of a professional.

1. Pressure washer and detergent

For outdoor solid brick, a pressure washer is your best ally in cleaning along with power washing. Here is how you can use this powerful tool:

  • Before the cleaning process starts, you should carefully examine your walls to find any cracks or mortar. We highly recommend that you repair those cracks using grout and a good sealer.
  • Once you’re done repairing your brick walls, cover any electrical items with waterproof material so they won’t be damaged while pressure washing.
  • Use the washer to wet all the surfaces that need to be adequately cleaned.
  • Use a detergent sprayer and apply it from the top to the bottom of the wall.
  • Rinse your walls thoroughly with the pressure washer again, starting from the top to the bottom. If you can use a low-pressure nozzle, that would be better for more detailed cleaning.

Tip: We recommend using the pressure washer at the lowest setting, usually around 50 psi. If the results you seek aren’t visible, then you can bump up the pressure!

Man using pressure washer on stone wall

2. Using bleach

Bleach solution to the rescue! Bleach can exterminate mildew, lichen and mould while stopping any other organic growth on your favourite stone wall.

  • Before you start, wear goggles and rubber gloves. Things might get messy!
  • Use a cleaning bucket to create a mixture of bleach and warm water. The suggested ratio should be 1 tablespoon of bleach per 4 litres of water.
  • Wet the brick walls with plain water and then use a sponge to apply the cleaner.
  • Using a wire brush, gently scrub all the affected areas.
  • Finish off by rinsing thoroughly with your garden hose.

3. Using trisodium phosphate (TSP)

The TSP solution can be used in a similar pattern to the interior one to deal with efflorescence. Efflorescence is a well-known problem for homeowners with stone brick walls. Don’t worry; if you see these white stains on your wall growing, follow the steps in Method 10 for interior cleaning, and you’ll be good to go!

Stone brick walls covered with efflorescence

4. Using buffered construction cleaner

While hard to find sometimes and often pricey, this powerful mixture can work wonders on your brick cleaning. Since it requires specific steps, we suggest you always read each manufacturer’s instructions when using this cleaning product.

5. Using muriatic acid

The hidden card up our sleeve. Beware of this final solution because it can be tricky. If any of the previous solutions didn’t work for you, using muriatic acid should solve your problems. 

  • No matter what, ALWAYS wear gloves and a ventilator mask while following this process.
  • If you’ve previously used the bleach solution or any other acid of any kind, make sure a few days have passed before using muriatic.
  • Wet the surface of your stone bricks well and thoroughly and cover the surrounding area with a plastic drop cloth.
  • Create a mixture of 1 tablespoon muriatic acid to 1 litre of clean water.
  • Using a cloth apply the cleaner to the surfaces with stains or mortar only.
  • Let it sit for 1-minute maximum.
  • Create a mixture of ammonia and water (¼ cup of ammonia to 1 litre of water).
  • Use the ammonia mixture to neutralise the muriatic acid.
  • Rinse thoroughly as many times as you can to remove any residues from the wall.

House with clean stone bricks

We all want the best for our home improvement. Sometimes the cleaning part can be a complicated task since we don’t know where to start or what we need. Our guide for cleaning stone bricks is here to help you resolve any of the issues you’ve previously had. Say goodbye to dirt, mildew and efflorescence from your stone walls once and for all!

 

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