How to Clean Cement Brick Pavers

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Clean and restore brick pavers yourself.
Clean and restore brick pavers yourself. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Cement brick pavers cover driveways, walkways, sidewalks and patios. Manufacturers pour concrete into molds to form paving blocks. Brick pavers are available in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes, making them an ideal fit in any design theme. Using pavers in an array of settings increases the probability of acquiring many types of stains ranging from oil stains to paint stain to rust stains. Cleaning brick pavers and removing stains restores their aesthetic value.

Things You'll Need

  • Broom
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Bucket
  • Garden hose
  • Cat litter or commercial-grade absorbent material
  • Mineral spirits
  • Industrial-grade emulsifying detergent
  • Paint scraper
  • Paint thinner
  • Rags
  • Acid-approved safety goggles
  • Acid-approved respirator
  • Rubber gloves
  • Oxalic acid
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Muriatic acid

General Cleaning

Sweep the pavers with a stiff bristle broom to keep them dirt and debris-free.

Add 2 tablespoons dishwashing soap to a bucket of warm water. Spray the pavers with water from a garden hose. Dip a broom into the soapy water and scrub the surface to remove dirt and dust.

Spray the pavers with a garden hose to rinse the soapy scum off the surface. Direct the spray and runoff away from grass, plants and bushes so as not to harm the growth.

Oil Stains

Sprinkle a thick coating of cat litter or commercial-grade oil absorbent material over the oil stain to absorb excess oil. Allow the material to remain on the surface for eight to 10 hours. Sweep the absorbent material off the surface and dispose of them safely. Check your local laws to determine safe disposal methods of oil-contaminated materials.

Pour mineral spirits over the oil stain and allow it to sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

Cover the mineral spirits with cat litter or other absorbent material. Allow it to remain on the surface for two to three hours. Sweep it up and discard appropriately.

Pour an industrial-grade emulsifying detergent to the stain. Scrub the stain with a stiff broom or scrub brush, and flush the area with water. Repeat if the stain remains.

Paint

Scrape as much paint off the surface as possible with a scraper.

Soak a rag in paint thinner. Place the rag on top of the paint stain. Allow the rag to remain on the stain for one hour. Check to see if the paint is soft. If the paint is not soft, return the rag and wait one hour. If the paint is soft, remove the rag and scrape away softened paint.

Wash the area with dish soap and warm water to remove paint thinner residue. Store paint thinner-soaked rags in a bucket of water to prevent combustion.

Rust Stains

Wear acid-approved safety goggles, acid-approved respirator and rubber gloves.

Mix 8 ounces of oxalic acid with 1/2-gallon of water in a bucket.

Brush the mixture onto the rust stains and allow it to sit for five to 10 minutes.

Rinse the surface thoroughly with plain water.

Efflorescence -- White Powdery Substance

Wash the brick surface with plain water. If the stains remain, go to Step 2.

Wear safety goggles, acid-approved respirator, rubber gloves. Apply a thick coating of petroleum jelly to exposed skin to guard against chemical burns.

Make a weakened muriatic acid mixture. For dark colors, mix 10 parts water to 1 part muriatic acid. For light colors, mix 15 parts water with 1 part muriatic acid.

Brush the mixture onto the pavers. Allow it to sit for 1 minute and flush thoroughly with plain water.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clean the patio weekly to avoid a dirt buildup.
  • Follow all safety precautions when working with corrosive acids. Do not use acids in the presence of children or pets.

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References

  • "Masonry"; Time Life Editors; 1977
  • "Outdoor Structures"; Time Life Editors; 1997
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