Cleaning a Brick Floor

brick flooring installations
© Portstone

Brick can be maintained with relative ease, but it has to be cared for on a regular basis to keep it looking its best. For everyday brick floor cleaning, the floor should be swept or vacuumed to remove dirt and grit. These tiny grains can act like sandpaper on a brick floor and, over time, can wear down any sealer on the floor and damage the brick itself. In addition to an everyday sweep or vacuuming, it's a good idea to clean your brick floor more thoroughly on a weekly basis.

Weekly Brick Floor Cleaning

Begin a weekly cleaning by thoroughly sweeping, vacuuming, or dry-mopping the floor to remove any dirt or particles that may be clinging to its surface. Prepare a natural cleaning solution of your choice:

  • 1 part vinegar mixed with 10 to 15 parts water
  • 2 tablespoons Borax mixed with 1 gallon of water
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons baking soda mixed with 1 gallon of water
  • Any good-quality commercial cleaning agent for natural stone and tile 

Dunk a mop into the cleaning solution and wring it out completely so that it is no more than slightly damp. Microfiber mops hold up much better than sponge mops on the rough surfaces of brick floors. Mop the floor using a vigorous back-and-forth motion to remove stuck grease, dirt, or stains. If necessary, use a stiff nylon scrub brush to attack stubborn dirt and grime.

After mopping, you may want to go over the floor with a soft towel, a washcloth, or a dry-mop to remove liquid from crevices and grout joints. This will prevent streaking and smudges as the floor dries completely.

Dealing With Brick Floor Dust

When new, sometimes brick flooring will have a pale, fine dust that seems to emit from its surface. This can cause a mess when tracked by feet to other floors. Usually, this dust is caused by the use of muriatic acid to clean the brick after it was initially installed. If this acidic substance is not flushed away thoroughly, it can remain in the grout lines, causing the dusting effect.

Solving this problem is a simple matter of flushing the floor with clean water, one or more times, to remove all traces of the muriatic acid that remain in the grout lines. You can do this with a damp mop or a sponge, repeating until the dusting effect stops completely.

Cleaning Brick Patio Flooring

Outdoor surfaces often call for more extreme cleaning methods, sometimes including commercial brick acidic cleaners or sulfate-based cleansers. Another option is to use a pressure washer to remove tough, set-in stains. However, rough scrubbing and pressure washing can scratch or mark the brick if you're not careful. Use a flat- or fan-spray nozzle on a pressure washer, and keep the nozzle a safe distance from the brick surface. Also, read cleaner labels carefully, and follow the manufacturer's directions to prevent etching or discoloration of the brick.

Grout Lines

The grout is the most susceptible part of a brick flooring installation. Annual sealing will help, but in some cases staining agents or liquids will be able to penetrate down into the grout joints and cause deep staining. When this happens, you can apply cleansing agents directly to grout lines with a scrub brush. In extreme cases, you can also completely remove and reinstall the grout.