Brick walls are a timeless element in architecture, offering strength and aesthetic appeal to any home. However, maintaining the pristine condition of exterior brick can be a challenge due to exposure to the elements, resulting in dirt, grime, and various stains marring its surface. Fortunately, with the right knowledge and a bit of elbow grease, you can learn how to clean brick walls effectively and restore their appearance by cleaning. This comprehensive guide delves into the essential DIY tips and step-by-step methods for cleaning exterior brick, ensuring your home’s façade radiates beauty and resilience.

It is also important to consider the limitations of DIY brick cleaning. When the job gets complicated and your DIY tools and experience are no longer easy to use without risk, consider choosing a professional brick cleaning service. This is the best way to guarantee that you get the results that you want!

Why is Regular Cleaning Important for Maintaining Brick Walls?

Preventing Long-Term Damage to the Brick

Without regular maintenance, the exterior brick can succumb to various forms of damage. Moisture, frost, and the accumulation of dirt and grime can lead to the deterioration of mortar and brick surfaces. This, in turn, can cause structural issues that compromise the integrity of the entire wall. Regular cleaning helps to prevent these problems by removing harmful substances before they can inflict damage to the brick.

Enhancing the Aesthetic Appeal of Exterior Brick

Cleaning outdoor brick not only preserves its structural integrity but also boosts the overall appearance of your home. Stains, soot, and mildew can mask the natural beauty and color of brickwork. By undertaking a deep clean, homeowners can rejuvenate the exterior walls, enhancing curb appeal and potentially increasing property value. Clean brick walls signify a well-maintained property, reflecting positively on the homeowners.

Identifying Potential Issues Early

During the cleaning process, you may uncover issues such as cracked or loose bricks and deteriorated mortar that would otherwise go unnoticed. Early detection allows for timely repairs, preventing minor problems from escalating into major complications. Consistent cleaning efforts can thus save significant amounts of money on expensive repairs down the line and extend the lifespan of your brick walls.

What Are the Best Brick Cleaning Solutions for Exterior Walls?

Comparing Natural Cleaners: White Vinegar vs. Dish Soap

Natural cleaners are a safe and effective option for cleaning brick surfaces. White vinegar, known for its acidity, is excellent for dissolving mineral deposits, cutting through grease, and lightening stains. A solution of vinegar and warm water can tackle most mild stains on brick without the need for harsh chemicals. Alternatively, dish soap mixed with water provides a gentle yet effective cleaning solution for removing surface dirt and grime. Both options are environmentally friendly and less likely to damage the brick or surrounding plant life.

When to Use Chemical Cleaners like Bleach

For tougher stains, such as deep-seated mold or mildew, chemical cleaners like bleach may be necessary. A bleach solution can effectively kill mold spores and alleviate staining. However, it’s crucial to use bleach sparingly and carefully, as it can discolor the brick and damage the mortar if not properly diluted. Always test a small, inconspicuous area first and ensure adequate ventilation when using bleach or other harsh chemicals.

Preparing a Homemade Cleaning Solution

A homemade cleaning solution can be an effective, budget-friendly option for maintaining the exterior of your home. Mixing warm water, dish soap, and a small amount of ammonia creates a powerful cleaner capable of cutting through stubborn grime. For a more abrasive cleaner to tackle tough stains, adding a small amount of salt to the mixture can enhance its efficacy. Always rinse thoroughly with plain water after using homemade solutions to prevent residue buildup on the brick surface.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Clean Brick Walls Effectively

Step 1: Preparing the Cleaning Area and Materials

Before embarking on your DIY project to clean brick walls, it’s essential to prepare the area by removing any obstacles and covering nearby plants with a tarp. Gather all necessary materials, including your chosen cleaning solution, a garden hose or pressure washer, a scrub brush, and protective gear for yourself. Ensuring everything is on hand before starting will streamline the cleaning process.

Step 2: Removing Surface Dirt with a Garden Hose or Pressure Washer

Using a garden hose or a pressure washer set to a low pressure, rinse the exterior brick to remove loose dirt and debris. This preliminary step makes the cleaning process easier by exposing the underlying stains that require targeted treatment. Be cautious with a pressure washer to avoid damaging the brick or mortar by using the appropriate nozzle and maintaining a safe distance.

Step 3: Applying Cleaner and Scrubbing Tough Stains

Apply the cleaning solution to the brick wall with a spray bottle or by gently splashing it onto larger areas. Allow it to sit for a few minutes to penetrate the dirt and grime. Then, using a scrub brush, carefully scrub the wall to lift the stains. For tough stains, additional applications of the cleaner and elbow grease may be necessary. Once satisfied, rinse the brick thoroughly with a hose to remove any residual cleaner and loosened dirt.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Using a Pressure Washer on Exterior Brick

How to Safely Use a Pressure Washer Without Causing Damage

When using a pressure washer to clean brick walls, it’s critical to choose a unit with adjustable pressure and use a nozzle that disperses water in a wide angle. Start with the lowest pressure setting and gradually increase if needed. Keep the nozzle at least 12 inches away from the surface of the brick to prevent damage. Moving in a consistent, sweeping motion helps evenly clean the surface without focusing too much pressure in one spot.

Avoiding Common Mistakes When Cleaning Brick with High Pressure

One of the most common mistakes is using too high a pressure setting, which can erode mortar and damage the exterior brick. Another is focusing the water stream too closely or for too long on one area, which can lead to uneven cleaning and potential harm to the brick surface. Always read the pressure washer’s instruction manual and follow best practices for cleaning exterior walls.

Choosing the Right Pressure and Nozzle for Your Brick Type

The type of brick and the condition of the mortar should dictate the pressure and nozzle selection when using a pressure washer. Softer bricks and older mortar may require a lower pressure setting to avoid damage. Testing on a small, inconspicuous area before proceeding with the entire wall can help determine the best settings for your particular situation.

Removing Specific Stains from Brick Walls: Soot, Mildew, and Unwanted Paint

Tackling Soot and Mildew with the Right Cleaning Solutions

Soot and mildew are common stains on brick walls, especially those in shaded or damp areas. A solution of bleach and water can effectively remove mildew, while soot may require a mixture of dish soap and salt for a more abrasive cleaning power. Always follow up with a thorough rinse to prevent further damage to the brick surface.

Steps to Remove Unwanted Paint Without Damaging the Surface

Removing unwanted paint from brick can be challenging but is achievable with patience and the right approach. A gentle paint remover or solvent designed for use on brick can loosen the paint, which can then be carefully scraped away with a plastic putty knife to avoid scratching the brick. For persistent areas, a second application of the remover and a soft-bristled brush can help lift the remaining paint.

Using Natural Remedies Like Vinegar and Water for Tough Stains

For stubborn stains that resist initial cleaning efforts, a strong solution of vinegar and water may be the answer. This natural remedy can break down tough grime without the harsh side effects of chemical cleaners. Apply the vinegar solution generously, let it sit for a few minutes, and then scrub vigorously. Although it may take more effort, this method avoids the use of potentially harmful chemicals and preserves the integrity of the brick.


Cleaning exterior brick is an essential aspect of home improvement that preserves the durability and enhances the appearance of your property. By following these DIY tips and step-by-step guides, you can maintain the beauty and integrity of your brick walls, ensuring they stand the test of time. Whether you’re dealing with routine dirt and grime or challenging stains like soot, mildew, and unwanted paint, the right approach and a bit of elbow grease can restore your exterior brick to its former glory.