How to Clean a Brick Patio

Last Updated on April 20, 2021

Brick patios are beautiful additions to any home outdoor entertainment space, but they can become unsightly when mold and dirt settle into the bricks and mortar. Use these simple steps and these common household items to revive your brick patio for a homey, pleasing place to host yard gatherings or just sit and relax with a good book.

red brick patio in a garden

Tools Needed:

  • Household Broom or Push Broom
  • Stiff Broom
  • Plastic Sheet
  • Garden Hose
  • 2-5 Gallon Bucket
  • Household Bleach
  • Paving Sand (if required). See The Finishing Touches

Before You Scrub

It is important to remove all items from the surface of the patio, making sure they are not near enough to get splashed because the bleach may cause discoloring. If your patio has a portable shade—such as an umbrella or canopy—remove it as well because the shade will yield longer patio dry times. Then using the household broom or the push broom, sweep the loose debris from the patio. You may use a leaf blower if you have one; it will be faster, but it is not necessary. Next, you should pull weeds from between brick joints, then sweep again if needed.

Using the plastic sheeting, you should cover all neighboring and near vegetation before applying the cleaning solution. Bleach can cause damage to plants and flowers.

Time to Scrub

This process is messy, yet so rewarding. You may have to repeat the cleaning steps if your patio has mold or mildew, and not just dirt.

Step 1: Put one gallon of warm water in a large (2 to 5 gallon) bucket.

Step 2: Add four cups of bleach into the bucket of warm water.

Step 3: Apply the solution with a stiff broom or push broom. It may be necessary to pour the solution directly onto problem areas. If an area is especially stained or discolored, let the bleach mixture sit for approximately five minutes, then scrub with stiff broom or push broom.

Step 4: Rinse with the garden hose immediately after scrubbing to keep dirt and grim from resettling into the rough surfaces of the brick.

Repeat Steps 3 and 4 if areas are still not clean.

NOTE: Avoid using a pressure washer on brick patios because it may remove brick sand or mortar from the areas between the bricks, and it can cause fractures in older bricks.

The Finishing Touches

Do not forget to remove the plastic sheeting from the plants and flowers that you covered before cleaning. Then assess your mortar lines for damage.

If mortar is missing in spots after you finish cleaning, you can use paving sand to fill the gaps. This will keep weeds from growing and dirt from settling in between the bricks. Paving sand can be purchased from any home improvement store. Pay attention to color because it should match your existing mortar to maintain the aesthetics of your patio.

Step 1: It is important to wait until the patio is completely dry, which takes approximately 24 hours in warm weather and may take longer in cool or humid areas. It is important for the bricks to dry out because the paving sand could collect and create clumps on the brick surfaces, which may be difficult to remove and will disrupt the beauty of the patio.

Step 2: Then, using paving sand of the approximate color of the existing mortar, pour a small amount on the areas with gaps between the bricks, and sweep it in into the joints using the household broom or push broom. Allow it to settle and take care not to sweep it back out of the gap when filling neighboring areas.  If rain is forecast, you should wait until there is at least 12 hours of dry time before applying the sand. Otherwise, I may be washed out before it has had time to set in the mortar lines.

Filling in the paving joints on a patio

If there are no problem areas with missing mortar, wait until the brick patio is completely dry before replacing furniture and shade umbrellas or canopies. Allowing for dry time will keep the patio from discoloring and keep mold from growing under furniture.

And, You Are Finished

You did it! With some elbow grease and by following these simple steps, your brick patio will be restored, and you will have a beautiful, relaxing place to spend sunny days and warm nights.

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