Brick walls provide a unique, aesthetically pleasing look to any interior home design. However, because of their porous nature, bricks tend to absorb dirt and can be more difficult to clean than concrete or other hard surfaces.

    Following proper cleaning techniques helps maintain your bricks’ appearance over time. Here’s how to best clean indoor brick.


    Overview of Brick Cleaning Solutions

    Depending on the type and construction of your interior bricks, consider using these cleaning solutions:

    • Trisodium phosphate: A commercial alkaline cleaner that helps remove grease and oil stains
    • Baking soda and dish detergent: For gentler cleaning, these products create a mild abrasive paste
    • Masonry mold removers: Specialty products designed to kill and remove mold growth
    • Cream of tartar: Mixed with water, the acids in cream of tartar help brighten brick surfaces
    • Vinegar or bleach solutions: Harsher mixes that combat stubborn mold or mildew

    Easy Steps for Cleaning Interior Bricks

    Cleaning interior brick walls involves both chemical cleaning solutions and some manual scrubbing. Here is a complete step-by-step process:

    Before mixing any cleaning chemicals, protect yourself by wearing gloves, goggles, long sleeves, and long pants. These help shield you from irritation or debris during scrubbing.

    Wet down the entire surface using a bristled scrub brush and clean water. Ensuring the bricks are saturated makes it easier for the cleaning solution to penetrate deeper into the pores for better results.

    Select your cleaning agent and create a diluted mixture with water according to the product instructions. Acidic cleaners often require a higher water ratio for safety.

    Using a bristled brush, vigorously scrub the dilute cleaning solution thoroughly over the brick walls, applying more solution whenever needed. Target any visibly dirty areas.

    Allow the cleaning solution to penetrate the bricks for up to 15 minutes. This enables the chemicals to break down and dissolve the dirt inside the porous material.

    Use a bristled brush and clean, lukewarm water to rinse away any cleaning solution residue. You may need to scrub as you rinse. Properly removing residues prevents potential damage.

    Reapply the cleaning solution and scrub the bricks again if you don’t achieve the desired results on the first application. For stubborn dirt, use a slightly stronger solution.

    After rinsing off all cleaning products, allow several hours for the bricks to completely air dry. Excess moisture can impact cleaning effectiveness.

    Once fully dry, apply a specialty masonry sealer using a paintbrush or paint sprayer. The sealer helps repel future dirt and moisture from penetrating the porous bricks. Wait at least 24 hours between coats.


    Tips for Cleaning Exposed Interior Bricks

    Cleaning exposed brick walls presents added challenges because the dirt and stains have penetrated deeper over time. You’ll need to create a concentrated paste of powder cleanser and salt, apply a thin coat across bricks, and let sit for 15 minutes. Then, use a stiff-bristle scrub brush and lukewarm water to gently scrub and rinse bricks. You’ll need to take extra care not to damage older or deteriorated mortar joints.


    Removing Mold and Mildew From Brick Walls

    It’s crucial to act quickly at the first signs of mold growth, so make sure to do the following:

    • Eliminate any moisture sources enabling the mold. Fix all leaks and improve ventilation.
    • Spray undiluted white vinegar directly on the moldy areas to help kill mold roots.
    • Lightly scrub with a stiff nylon brush after five minutes.
    • Rinse thoroughly using clean, warm water. Repeat vinegar and scrubbing until all visible mold is gone.
    Today’s Homeowner Tips

    For advanced mold, try mixing equal parts vinegar and bleach for extra potency. Rinsing well afterward is critical.


    Special Considerations for Fireplace Brick

    Restoring the look of sooty fireplace bricks comes with added considerations:

    1. First, sweep and vacuum any loose debris like ash from interior crevices. Wear protective equipment to limit inhaling fine debris.
    2. Use a soft-bristle brush and plain water to gently pre-wet and scrub exterior bricks surrounding the firebox. This initial cleaning helps loosen clinging deposits.
    3. For set-in stains on firebox walls, apply a mild paste of baking soda and dish soap. Lightly scrub before rinsing clean. Take care not to scratch the firebricks lining the firebox floor and walls.
    4. Avoid using acidic cleaners if your fireplace bricks are older or show deterioration — these can severely degrade already vulnerable brick or mortar.
    5. Once completely dry, apply a heat-resistant sealer for protection from future soot stains inside the firebox. Reapply sealant yearly before the heating season.

    So, Is Cleaning Interior Brick Difficult?

    Cleaning interior brick can seem daunting to DIYers because of the porous surface and risk of damage. However, having the proper cleaning solutions, tools, and techniques make the process very manageable. 

    Key steps like pre-wetting, mixing the cleaning paste according to directions, letting it set, and thoroughly rinsing are essential for the best results. 

    Being aware of the differences between cleaning everyday brick walls, exposed brick, and fireplace brick and handling mold growth means adjusting your approach accordingly. But overall, with reasonable care and effort, homeowners can successfully brighten up dingy brick surfaces throughout their home’s interior. Make sure to reach out to a professional masonry cleaner if you have any concerns about handling special cleaning challenges on your own.

    Get Your Estimate From Cleaning Professionals
    Match with a cleaning professional to help you maintain your busy household

    FAQs About Cleaning Interior Brick

    What is efflorescence, and how do I remove it from brick?

    Brick efflorescence refers to the white, chalky mineral deposits that can form on brick and concrete over time. It happens because water penetrates the brick, carrying soluble salts to the surface that get left behind as deposits when the moisture evaporates. Use a specialty acidic cleaner like Prosoco® Vana Trol to dissolve and remove efflorescence without harming the masonry.


    What kind of soap is safe for cleaning bricks?

    A mild liquid dish soap or laundry detergent works well for gentle brick cleaning. Avoid using harsh degreasers or chemical-laden soaps, which could degrade or discolor brick surfaces. Simply mix a small amount of mild, phosphate-free soap into warm water for an effective cleaning solution.


    Should I seal indoor brick?

    Sealing bricks with a protective coating isn’t strictly necessary but can benefit bricks in wet areas by preventing future moisture damage and staining. Use a specialty penetrating sealer made for porous masonry that soaks in rather than leaving a surface film. Reapply sealer every three to five years.


    What natural ingredients safely clean brick?

    You can use common acidic household staples like vinegar, lemon juice, and cream of tartar, combined with warm water and gentle scrubbing, to naturally clean brick. Baking soda also acts as a mild abrasive cleaner. Always rinse completely afterward, and never mix varying natural acids together.


    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Jonathon Jachura

    Jonathon Jachura

    Contributor

    Jonathon Jachura is a two-time homeowner with hands-on experience with HVAC, gutters, plumbing, lawn care, pest control, and other aspects of owning a home. He is passionate about home maintenance and finding the best services. His main goal is to educate others with crisp, concise descriptions that any homeowner can use. Jon uses his strong technical background to create engaging, easy-to-read, and informative guides. He does most of his home and lawn projects himself but hires professional companies for the “big things.” He knows what goes into finding the best service providers and contractors. Jon studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana and worked in the HVAC industry for 12 years. Between his various home improvement projects, he enjoys the outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and spending time with his family.

    Learn More

    photo of Lori Zaino

    Lori Zaino

    Lori Zaino is a freelance writer and editor based in Madrid, Spain. With nearly two decades of editorial experience, she’s written and edited for publications like Forbes, CNN, Insider, NBC, Newsweek, The Points Guy, The Infatuation, and many others. Having just completed her first home renovation, she’s more interested in home improvements than ever, dedicated to bringing you fresh and accurate content to help you update your living spaces.

    Learn More