Tips From The Pros On How To Safely Clean Brick
Brick is a strong surface that's made to last, but it can get damaged during cleaning.
Brick is porous so it is not waterproof. If you remove the facing material during cleaning, the brick will absorb water more than it normally does. Damaged brick will decay many years earlier than it would have if kept in good condition.
When your home was built, the brick siding or patio was coated with sealant. Some cleaning methods damage the sealant (if it is still intact). If the sealant hasn't been reapplied every couple of years, the brick is even more vulnerable to damage.
Whether you plan to clean the exterior of your home yourself or want to hire someone, you need to be aware of what methods can harm brick. Here are some do's and don'ts for cleaning exterior brickwork.
Don't Use Muriatic Acid On Brick
Never use muriatic acid to clean brick, no matter how dirty it is. Muriatic acid will dissolve the outer surface of the material. It will also eat away at the mortar joints.
The resulting pitted surface sucks water into the brick and concrete mortar. If this happens, the brick and mortar start to crumble and crack. In concrete terms, the end result is called delamination.
If you insist on acid-washing your brick home, you will definitely need to replace the sealant and keep it replaced every one or two years.
No-Nos for brick cleaning:
- Muriatic acid
- Drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and the like
Don't Use A Wire Brush Or Power Tools To Clean Brick
Don't be tempted to clean stains off brick with a wire brush or a cleaning disc on a power tool. While some cleaning discs say they are a safer alternative to wire brushes, don't be fooled.
These methods actually strip paint right off a surface. This is so not good for masonry surfaces.
Don't Use High-Pressure Power Washing
Pressure washers can damage the surface of an entire brick house. You cannot pressure wash brick on high pressure settings.
It may take a couple of years for you to realize that the brick was damaged. The delamination process happens pretty slowly, but it can't be stopped once it starts. All the brick on your house or patio will have to be replaced as it starts crumbling.
- Soft washing pros use anywhere from 100 psi to 1500 psi of water force for masonry cleaning, depending on who is doing it.
- Garden hoses normal supply water at 40 psi.
- Commercial power washers produce up to 60,000 psi of water force.
- The pressure washer rental machines normally produce up to around 3,000 or 4,000 psi, some going even higher.
Do Use Safe Cleaning Solutions
No matter what the exterior of your home is made of, safe cleaning solutions are the best option.
Our Softwash Pros in Daphne clean brick and other exterior surfaces with a softwashing technique that uses safe, eco-friendly cleaning solutions. We get our cleaning supplies from commercial suppliers, so you won't have access to the same products.
There are two solutions you can try if you insist on cleaning your brick house yourself. Use a mixture of equal parts of water and vinegar. You can find hose attachment sprayers to make it easy. You can do a little scrubbing with a broom or another type of stiff, non-metal brush.
For problem areas, use baking soda to make a paste to cover the stained area and scrub it around with a stiff fiber brush. Also, check out the Thompson's WaterSeal Oxy Foaming Action exterior surface cleaner. While it's not as effective as our solutions, it may be your best bet for DIY.
- Baking soda for stains
- Vinegar & water for large areas
- Oxy Foaming Action exterior surface cleaner