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How To Clean Brick Floors

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Brick is a flooring that you don’t see as much of as inside flooring any more, but can still be found in some older homes, or homes that have a mud room. Since they are made out of a completely different material than you would normally see inside, there are different instructions on how to clean brick floors. Outside brick can be much easier to clean.

How To Clean Brick Floors

Most brick floors can be kept clean as long as surface dirt is removed on a daily basis. Because of brick’s unique construction, you may be able to treat it like tile, but just like a tile floor there are different cleaning methods based on whether the brick is sealed or unsealed. Also, look out for dust accumulation that can be prevalent after brick is installed.

Modern house interior

Sweeping and Vacuuming Brick Floors

The key to keeping brick floors clean is to vacuum or sweep them on a regular basis. Sand and dirt can find homes in the many crevices of brick floors and grout lines. The original unsealed brick itself can also produce grit as it breaks down over the years. If that debris tracks into other parts of the house, whether on carpeting, hardwood floors, or other surfaces, it can cause quite a bit of damage.

You can sweep brick floors with just about any type of broom. While more gentle flooring can be scratched by harsher bristles like you might find in a new corn broom, brick can hold up to most bristles meant for outside cleaning. We would not recommend cleaning something like laminate flooring with the same broom, as both the broom’s bristles and the grit from the brick might scratch it.

You may also use a vacuum cleaner to clean surface dirt from brick floors. A flat head meant for hardwood and laminate flooring may work well, but be careful of the roughness of the brick breaking down any soft bristles meant for delicate floors. Just like with the broom, avoid using the same head for multiple surfaces unless you clean any debris from it between rooms.

Mopping Brick Floors

Sweeping or vacuuming a brick floor daily can help keep it clean for quite some time, but there will usually be times where a deeper cleaning is needed. Grease, food, and spilled drinks can stain brick if it is not cleaned properly. To mop a brick floor, there are some different solutions you can use depending on what you have around the house.

You could also purchase a cleaner meant for most tile or other natural stones. Check the directions before use to be sure whether you are supposed to apply the cleaning agent directly on the floor or if you have to dilute it first with water.

Sparkling clean brick floors

To mop a brick floor, you will need to sweep or vacuum it beforehand to remove all the surface debris. If you perform this on a daily basis, your job will be much easier when it comes to deep cleaning with a mop.

  1. Saturate the mop with the cleaning solution.
  2. Wring out as much of the solution as possible so that the mop is only damp.
  3. Run your mop back and forth on the brick.
  4. Rinse the mop well and often.
  5. Rinse the flooring thoroughly with clean water.
  6. Dry the brick and grout for best results.

Dealing with Brick Dust

Newly installed brick floors may have a white to gray dust on it that seems to track all over the floor, and into the house as well. This is caused by the muriatic acid that is used to clean brick after it is installed. It collects in the grout lines, leaching lime from the grout, which in turn leaves the dust on the surface to get tracked around.

While it is not necessary to use a cleaning agent to get rid of this dust, it should be mopped with clean water. Be sure to focus more on the grout than on the brick surfaces themselves. It may take a few passes to get all of the dust taken care of, so let it dry between cleanings.

Cleaning Unsealed vs. Sealed Brick

Most brick floors that you find outside or in a mud room are going to be unsealed. This type of brick flooring will absorb more liquid than sealed brick, potentially causing stains to appear more easily, especially in the grout lines. Be sure to get to those spills quickly and use the recommended mopping solutions explained above.

Sealed brick floors will most likely be located inside your home for a charming, rustic look. Sealing used on brick will most likely be either a penetrating sealant which absorbs into the brick, or a film sealant used to coat the surface. Penetrating sealant normally lasts longer than a film sealant, but may leave a gritty floor texture that you might not want inside the house.

Storage room with brick flooring

If they are already sealed, that is great. Be sure to renew the sealant every year or so. If the floor has been in the house for a while and it has never been sealed, you may just want to leave it that way. Sealing a floor for the first time later in its lifespan can seal moisture inside the brick and grout, potentially damaging it.

Cleaning Brick Floors Outside

Depending on your outdoor setup and what type of brick you had installed, it may be easier to use a strong hose or power washer on brick floors that are outside. While outdoor brick is generally pretty sturdy, a strong power washer with the wrong nozzle can scratch the floor as it sprays debris across it at high velocity.

When using a hose to clean brick floors, we recommend using a fan or flat nozzle to spread out the impact of the water and anything it is spraying. This will also lessen the possibility of high pressure water widening any holes in the grout or brick, speeding up the process of deterioration.

Brick Floor Cleaning Tips

  • When choosing a mop to use on brick floors, look for a mop head made of microfiber strands or cotton strings. Flat mops and sponge mops will not hold up to the added edges and friction that brick and grout can produce.
  • A deck brush can also be used to clean brick floors. Substitute in place of a mop, but try to keep down the amount of liquid used when cleaning.
  • A stiff nylon hand brush can be used to pick up stains or very stubborn dirt spots.
  • Drying the floor after cleaning will help protect the grout and extend the life of your floor.

Conclusion

Cleaning brick floors does not have to be difficult if you be sure to lightly clean the surface with a vacuum cleaner or broom on a daily basis. This will keep the dirt and grit from accumulating, which would eventually cause the flooring to break down more quickly. It will also help prevent tracking grime and sand from the brick into parts of the house with more delicate flooring.

When deep cleaning brick floors, be sure not to use too much water, as this can soak into the brick and damage it over time. Use a damp mop with a cleaner, and dry the floor as much as possible after cleaning. Following these instructions will have your brick floor clean in no time.

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.