Few exterior features are as classically beautiful as a brick patio. The brick adds a traditional touch while giving you a durable, attractive surface. That’s why, if you’re like me, nothing is quite as frustrating as seeing that magnificent brick get dirty and grimy. Plus, the buildup can make the brick slick, creating a safety issue. When that happens to my patio, the first thing I want to know is how to clean a brick patio correctly.
You have several options for cleaning a brick patio, each working best in specific situations. In some cases, a pressure washer alone is enough. In others, you may want to use dish soap, baking soda, bleach, or borax. Commercial cleaners like OxiClean or Simple Green are also worth considering.
However, if your brick is dirty, grimy, or stained, you may need to try stronger commercial cleaners. If you need to know how to clean a brick patio, here’s a closer look at your options.
- How to Clean a Brick Patio
- Do You Need Soap to Pressure Wash Brick?
- Does WD-40 Clean Bricks?
- How to Prevent Stains on a Brick Patio
- Brick Patio Maintenance Tips
- Best Cleaner for Brick Patio
- What Is the Best Way to Clean Brick Patio?
How to Clean a Brick Patio
1. Pressure WasherPressure washing is an excellent option if you have stuck-on dirt, grime, or moss on the surface of your brick patio. The high-pressure sprayer effectively loosens anything that’s adhered to the brick. Plus, since you don’t have to use chemicals, it won’t hurt your lawn.
While using a pressure washer is simple, you need to make sure the pressure isn’t too high. If the spray puts too much force on a single spot, it can damage the brick.
Begin by choosing a test spot in a discreet location. Keep the pressure low initially, and slowly increase it until it’s high enough to remove the dirt and grime. Then, clean that location and check your brick to make sure it isn’t damaged.
After a successful test spot, you can move on to the rest of your brick patio. Work in small sections, following the pressure washer manufacturer’s directions about distance and angle. Then, continue until your patio is completely clean.
2. Dish SoapFor oily buildup or grim, dish soap is a simple cleaner most people have in their homes. Dish soap is exceptional at degreasing, and eco-friendly versions are available that won’t harm your lawn. Plus, all versions are generally safe around people and pets.
Typically, you only need around a teaspoon of dish soap per gallon of warm water. Mix the solution in a bucket, stirring to make sure the dish soap is thoroughly dispersed.
Take a nylon brush and apply the dish soap solution to your brick. Scrub using moderate pressure, as pushing too hard could lead to damage. After that, let the solution sit for a few minutes.
At that point, it’s wise to scrub any difficult spots again. Then, rinse the brick with a hose. If necessary, you can repeat the process until the dirt and grime are gone.
3. Baking Soda
If your brick is incredibly dirty and some of the buildups have gotten into the texture of the brick, baking soda is a potential solution. Baking soda is mildly abrasive but not to the point that it will damage your patio. Plus, it’s safe around people and pets.
You’ll want to wear gloves when working with baking soda. Since it’s abrasive, too much contact can irritate your skin. By wearing gloves, you shield your hands from contact.
Start by combining some baking soda with water to create a thin paste. Apply it to the brick using a nylon scrub brush, then apply moderate pressure to clean the dirty area. Use circular motions to ensure the baking soda can scrub away the gunk.
Once you scrub the dirty spots, rinse your patio with a hose. Otherwise, baking soda can make your brick look chalky. If you see any more grime, you can repeat the process until it’s gone.
4. BleachIf your brick has mold or mildew, bleach is an effective cleaner. Usually, you’ll want to dilute it. While full-strength bleach won’t necessarily harm your brick, it isn’t more effective than a diluted version. By diluting, you’re making the approach more cost-effective.
In most cases, you don’t need more than ¾ cup of bleach per gallon of warm water. Make sure to wear gloves as you create the solution and clean, as bleach can irritate the skin. Goggles are also recommended to shield your eyes from splashes and make sure there’s good airflow across your patio to protect your lungs and airways.
After making the solution, use a nylon brush to apply it. Scrub your patio using a circular motion, ensuring you get into any nooks and crannies. After that, you can rinse your brick with a garden hose.
It’s important to keep in mind that bleach can harm people and pets. Additionally, it isn’t great for your lawn. As a result, you need to rinse thoroughly once done to ensure the remaining bleach is as diluted as possible.
5. OxiCleanOxiClean is also called oxygen bleach, though it doesn’t contain bleach. Instead, its active ingredient is sodium percarbonate, a functionally powdered hydrogen peroxide and washing soda.
You’ll need to combine the OxiClean with water in a bucket to make the solution. In most cases, filling the provided scoop to line four does the trick. Add that to warm water and stir to combine.
Once the solution is ready, use a nylon brush to apply the cleaner. Scrub as you apply, and then let it sit for about five minutes. Scrub again using the nylon brush to remove the dirt and grime, using a circular motion and moderate pressure.
After you finish scrubbing, it’s time to rinse. You can usually use a hose to rinse the brick, though you could use a pressure washer if you prefer.
6. Simple GreenSimple Green is a commercial cleaner safe on brick. Plus, it’s biodegradable, making it safer around people and pets and reducing harm to your lawn.
You have two choices for the application. First, this cleaner is designed to work in a pressure washer with a reservoir. You’ll need to review the instructions that come with your pressure washer to ensure compatibility and to add the cleaner correctly. Additionally, do a test spot using the process previously described to get the pressure right.
Make sure you’re wearing gloves while you clean. Then, wet your brick using a hose. Finally, apply the Simple Green using the detergent setting on your pressure washer.
After applying the cleaner, let it soak for up to five minutes. Make sure the cleaner stays wet as it sits, rewetting with the pressure washer as needed.
Finally, rinse the brick using the water-only setting on your pressure washer. You’ll also want to use a hose to wash away any residue on your lawn, protecting your plants.
If you want to apply it manually:
- Add ¾ cup of Simple Green Cleaner to one gallon of warm water.
- Apply the cleaner using a nylon brush, working in small sections to ensure the solution doesn’t dry before rinsing.
- Let the area soak, then rinse with a garden hose.
- Repeat that process until all of your brick is clean.
7. BoraxBorax is an effective option for cleaning brick, but it can harm people, pets, and your lawn. Wear gloves and goggles while working with borax and a breathing mask.
Put one gallon of warm water in a bucket and add one tablespoon of borax. Stir until the solution is thoroughly combined. Then, apply the cleaner using a nylon brush.
Scrub your brick using moderate pressure and circular motions. After you finish scrubbing, rinse your brick patio with a hose. Repeat the process as needed until your patio is clean.
8. White Vinegar
White vinegar is a popular household cleaner since it’s safe for people and pets. Additionally, it’s incredibly effective at cleaning up efflorescence, a white salt crystal buildup that makes your brick look chalky.
However, since vinegar is highly acidic, it can damage your brick if you leave it on your patio too long or dilute it correctly. For brick, create a solution of one part vinegar to five parts water. Apply the cleaner to the brick using a nylon scrub brush and use moderate pressure and circular motions to clean your patio.
Once you’re done scrubbing, you want to neutralize the acidic vinegar with a base. Often, the easiest option is baking soda, as that also won’t harm your lawn. Sprinkle baking soda over the brick, work it with a scrub brush, and let it sit before rinsing.
However, you can use pure ammonia to neutralize the vinegar, too. Dilute the ammonia using the same cleaner-to-water ratio as the vinegar. Put it in a spray bottle and spritz your brick.
Finally, rinse the patio to remove all of the cleaners. Generally, a hose will work, but you can go with a pressure washer if you prefer.
9. Commercial Brick Cleaner
A wide variety of commercial brick patio cleaners are available on the market. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, some are designed for general cleaning, while others are explicitly designed to deal with oil stains, discoloration, mildew, or other issues.
If you go with a commercial brick cleaner, you need to review the manufacturer’s directions. Checking the instructions ensures you dilute the cleaner properly if required. Additionally, it lets you know if the cleaner needs to sit before scrubbing or rinsing.
Also, review any safety information that the manufacturer provides. Many commercial brick cleaners pose health risks, so you’ll want to learn about recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) before you begin.
10. Trisodium PhosphateTrisodium phosphate (TSP) is a strong chemical-based cleaner that’s highly effective. However, it’s harder to work with and potentially hazardous. As a result, you need to wear PPE, including gloves, goggles, and a breathing mask.
Typically, you’ll need to dilute the TSP before applying. Check the manufacturer’s directions to see how much TSP you should add to one gallon of water. Then, stir to combine.
After you make the solution:
- Apply it with a nylon brush.
- Leave it sitting for as long as the manufacturer recommends.
- Scrub the brick with the brush.
- Thoroughly rinse your patio with a hose.
11. Muriatic AcidGenerally, muriatic acid is the last resort option for dirty, stained brick that isn’t coming clean using other methods. Muriatic acid is highly acidic. Along with potentially harming the brick, it can injure people and pets. Plus, it’s not good for your lawn.
Read the manufacturer’s directions to create the solution. Apply the cleaner following the manufacturer’s recommendations. Along the way, go slowly to avoid splashes and drips.
After applying the muriatic acid, let it sit based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Finally, rinse the patio, sprinkle baking soda over your brick to neutralize the remaining acid, and rinse again.
12. Hire a Professional
Sometimes, hiring a professional to clean your brick patio is the best choice. Professionals can safely use challenging methods for novices, like abrasive blasting, TSP, and muriatic acid. Plus, they’ll usually guarantee their work and have insurance to address any damage they cause.
When you hire a professional, it’s wise to get quotes from several to ensure you’re getting a reasonable price. Don’t default to the pro that offers the lowest price, particularly if it’s far below what others quote. Sometimes, that could mean you’ll get subpar work, so it’s better to accept a quote closer to the middle of the pack.
Additionally, read reviews and ask for references before hiring to confirm they do quality work. Finally, ensure that they’re licensed and insured.
Do You Need Soap to Pressure Wash Brick?
Using soap to pressure wash brick is an option. If you’re mainly dealing with dirt and grime that’s stuck on the surface, water alone is potentially enough. However, if you have staining, discoloration, or similar issues, a cleaner is a potentially wise addition.
When in doubt, consider trying to clean your brick patio without a cleaner first. If that gives you solid results, use that approach for your patio. If not, select a cleaner compatible with your pressure washer and that targets the issue you’re encountering.
Does WD-40 Clean Bricks?
You can use WD-40 to clean brick, but it isn’t the most efficient approach for large areas. Instead, it’s best to only try WD-40 on smaller stains, particularly oily or greasy spots.
Cleaning with WD-40 means, you’re dealing with chemicals. While it’s generally safe, it’s best to wear PPE and keep people and pets away from your patio while you work.
For oily stains, coat them in WD-40 until they’re saturated. Next, let it sit for around 20 minutes. Then, scrub the spot with a nylon brush using a circular motion.
After that, you’ll want to soak up any excess WD-40 with paper towels. Since the area with a hose. Finally, cover the spot with baking soda to absorb any remaining WD-40, let it sit, and then sweep up the baking soda.
How to Prevent Stains on a Brick Patio
If you want to prevent stains on a brick patio, regular cleaning is essential. Dirt, leaves, moss, and other materials sitting on the surface can lead to discoloration if they absorb into the brick. By sweeping and rinsing regularly, you can prevent that from happening.
Cleaning up spills immediately is another way to avoid stains. For beverage spills, using paper towels to absorb the fluid and then rinsing with a hose is potentially enough.
If the spill is oily or greasy, use paper towels or grease-absorbing disposable pads to soak up as much as possible. Next, apply baking soda, cat litter, sawdust, or similar absorbent materials to handle the remaining spill. Let the material sit for several hours before sweeping it up.
Sealing your brick also prevents stains. You get a protective barrier that keeps materials from absorbing into the brick. Make sure you regularly reseal using the manufacturer’s recommended schedule to get the best protection.
Brick Patio Maintenance Tips
To keep your brick patio clean, sweeping regularly is a critical step. It allows you to whisk away dirt and dust, making buildup less likely. Use a stiff-bristled broom to get debris out of crevices, keeping the pressure light to moderate.
With sealed brick patios, it’s also wise to rinse the surface regularly. That can remove any dust that can naturally occur. Make sure you go in one direction – pushing dirt and grime off the edge of your patio – to get the best results.
Weeding is another critical step. If weeds are pushing up between the brick, they can damage the material. Make sure to pull them up from the roots and sweep off any dirt that gets on your brick.
It’s also wise to seal your brick patio. That creates a protective layer to prevent staining and limit unnecessary moisture exposure. As a result, it’s typically easier to clean the brick and keep it looking its best. Plus, the brick will last longer.
Best Cleaner for Brick Patio
Generally, the best cleaner for a brick patio is the one that handles the job while limiting your need for chemicals. For basic surface dirt and grime, using a pressure washer, dish soap, or baking soda is a good place to start. For efflorescence, begin with a white vinegar solution instead.
If those options prove ineffective, move on to alternatives like bleach, borax, OxiClean, or Simple Green. Treat TSP and muriatic acid as last resort options, as they’re potentially harmful and hard to use.
If you’re concerned about doing the job yourself, remember that you can hire a professional. While that does increase the cost, professionals can use methods you may not want to try yourself. Plus, reputable services may guarantee their work.
What Is the Best Way to Clean Brick Patio?
Which approach is the best way to clean a brick patio depends on your exact situation. Pressure washing is effective and safe, so it’s the best starting point. However, baking soda, dish soap, and white vinegar are solid alternatives. You can also try chemical-based approaches if you like or hire a professional to handle a particularly challenging job.