How to Clean Brick Floors without Chemicals (Video)

The desire for sustainable and chemical-free living extends to our homes in a world increasingly conscious of environmental impact. If you’re fortunate enough to have the rustic charm of brick floors gracing your living space, you likely appreciate their timeless appeal.

However, maintaining these unique surfaces requires a different approach than traditional flooring. In this guide, I provide ways of cleaning brick floors without harsh chemicals. Discover eco-friendly methods that preserve your brick’s integrity and contribute to a healthier home environment.

With these methods, your brick floors will not only look good, but you will also be contributing to the safety of the environment and your loved ones.

A car in a garage with a brick floor

How to clean brick floors: the procedure

Clean your brick floor with 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, ¼ cup of baking soda, warm water, and a stiff-bristled brush. Since I like my floors smelling fresh and fruity, I either add a few drops (2-5) of lavender essential oil or choose a commercial cleaner with a fruity smell. 

Although you may need to test this cleaning solution on a small area of your floor before using it, I’ve used it and can confirm that it doesn’t damage brick floors. The steps are as follows:

1. Remove loose debris

Vacuum or sweep your floor to remove debris, dust, and loose dirt as the first step. 

2. Prepare a cleaning solution

Mix the white vinegar with warm water and the essential oil of your choice. Pour the solution into a mopping bucket. 

3. Apply baking soda

Spread the baking soda lightly on the area you want to clean. It helps provide abrasion to clean out tough stains and dirt. 

4. Scrub the bricks

Dip the brush into the cleaning solution you prepared, then use it to scrub the brick floor. Pay attention to the dirty areas but be careful not to use too much force that may damage the floor. 

5. Rinse thoroughly

After scrubbing the floor, rinse it with enough water to remove dirt and the cleaning agent. You can use either a mop or hose for this.

6. Dry the floor

Allow the floor to air dry naturally. Avoid heat since it’ll likely crack the bricks. You can use a fan if you’re in a hurry.

7. Seal the bricks (optional)

You may apply a brick sealer to protect and enhance the looks of the bricks after they’re dry. 

With regular maintenance, including sweeping and periodic cleaning, your brick floors will look their best. Besides the garage and other outdoor areas, brick is one of the best floors for a living room.

What to avoid when cleaning brick floors

Bricks are tough flooring and building materials in general. However, certain substances and practices can discolor and even damage them. You should avoid them, and they include the following:

1. Acidic cleaners

Avoid strong acidic cleaners since they can erode the surface of the bricks and cause permanent damage. If you use vinegar as I detailed above, have a neutralizer like baking soda since vinegar alone can damage the bricks.

2. Abrasive materials

Abrasive brushes, scouring pads, and harsh abrasive cleaners scratch the surface of the bricks. With time, they damage them permanently.
I use a stiff-bristled brush with moderate force, just enough to remove the dirt from the bricks without damaging it.

3. Excessive water

Do not saturate the brick floor with water since it can crack the bricks or lead to efflorescence, the white, powdery deposits you see on wet bricks.

4. Oil-based cleaners

Avoid oil-based cleaners for your brick floors since they leave behind a greasy residue that’s difficult to eliminate.

5. Bleach and ammonia

Bleach alone will discolor your brick floors and should be avoided. Combined with ammonia, they produce toxic fumes that will harm you when cleaning. As such, avoid using both on all types of floors.

6. Pressure washing

Do not use high-pressure washers on brick floors, as their force can damage the mortar between the bricks and even dislodge them. You can, however, use a hose pipe as it doesn’t create enough pressure to damage the brick and mortar.

You should also use steam with caution when cleaning brick floors. While steam mops are safe for wood and many other floor types, they can damage brick floors, especially when used under pressure.

7. Harsh chemicals

Harsh chemicals, such as caustic soda or muriatic acid, can corrode and deteriorate the bricks and should therefore be avoided.

8. Scrubbing too vigorously

Avoid scrubbing your brick floors with too much force. Besides damaging the mortar and grout lines, you also wear down the bricks over time.

9. Not removing stains immediately

When you notice a major stain on the brick floor, clean it off. If you spill a drink on the floor, clean it off before it’s absorbed or dries up to create a permanent stain.

10. Not sealing the floor

Always seal your brick floors to avoid damage and wearing off. Choose the right sealer for your bricks, then follow the instructions to get the best results.

By avoiding these practices and using a gentle, appropriate cleaning method, you can maintain the beauty and durability of your brick floors.

How to maintain brick floors

You must practice some tips to keep your brick floors looking new and clean. From my experience, it’s one of the easiest to maintain since it’s naturally very tough and resilient.

Practice the following, and you will enjoy your floors for a long time:

1. Regular sweeping

Sweep your brick floors as frequently as possible to remove loose dirt and debris that may have abrasive particles. These particles eventually scratch and damage the surface over time. 

I sweep my driveway every third day and thoroughly clean it every fortnight. The result is a great floor that rarely looks dirty or old.

2. Gentle cleaning

Try it out on a hidden part before using a cleaner on your brick floor. This prevents widespread damage to the floor if the cleaner is harsh. Generally, use pH-neutral cleaners or mild acids and bases to clean the brick floor. Even then, avoid vigorous cleaning as that can also damage the floor.

3. Spot cleaning

Always address spills and stains as soon as you notice them. Blot any spilled liquids with a clean absorbent cloth, then gently scrub the stains. Clean with baking soda and vinegar, then thoroughly rinse afterward.

4. Scrub periodically

Sweeping and spot cleaning should be routine maintenance practices for brick floors. However, scrub the floor at least once or twice a month, depending on the frequency of use. These remove tough stains before they create permanent marks. Always rinse the floor with reasonable amounts of water with every form of cleaning, then let it air dry.

5. Seal the floor

Sealing the floor protects it from stains and makes it easier to clean. Also, sealing should be repeated periodically since the seal wears off with time. Different sealers work differently, hence the need to always read the instructions on each can of sealer or ask the guy at the store about it.

I learned this the hard way when I sent a friend to buy a sealer and ended up with five cans of a sealer I couldn’t use or return to the store for a refund.

6. Regular inspections

Conduct periodic inspections of your brick floors to identify and fix any developing issues before they develop further. If you’re unable to carry out some repairs, consult a specialist.

7. Use mats and rugs

Place mats and rugs in such areas to reduce dirt, grit, and wear on the floor in high-traffic areas. They help keep it clean and elongate its life.

8. Avoid or pad heavy furniture

Heavy furniture will damage most types of floors, including brick. As such, avoid placing heavy furniture directly on the bricks. Instead, add coasters or pads to reduce the strain on the floor.

9. Keep the floor dry

Moisture infiltration will damage brick floors by seeping into the bricks, causing efflorescence, and weakening the mortar between the bricks. It can also cause mold and mildew to develop on the bricks.

There are various ways to prevent this, including the following:

  • Dry the floor after cleaning.
  • Keep the floor sloping to one side for the water to drain away.
  • Mop any excess water off the floor after rain or cleaning.

With these practices, your brick floor will remain dry and last longer.

By following these maintenance practices, you can keep your brick floors looking attractive and in good condition for years to come.

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