How to Clean a Brick Fireplace and Other Fireplace Materials
As the season comes to a close, it’s time to start thinking about cleaning your fireplace to ensure it’s safe and ready for next year. A clean fireplace will look great and keep you and your home safe when you’re ready to use it again.
So once the warm days are in full swing and the cold days are behind us, consider giving your fireplace a thorough cleaning.
Here’s how to clean a wood-burning fireplace, including all the materials you’ll need.
Here’s a list of fireplace cleaning tools to get the job done.
Materials You’ll Need
- Drop cloths or plastic sheeting
- Old clothes
- Dust mask or respirator
- Hand broom and dustpan
- Liquid dish detergent
- Trisodium phosphate (TSP)
- Household bleach
- Spray bottles x 2
- Paper towels
- White vinegar
- Nylon bristle brush
- Cleaning rags
- Shop vac vacuum cleaner
- Rubber gloves
- Knee pads or towel
Wear Old Clothes
Cleaning a fireplace is a messy job, and you will certainly get soot stains on your clothes. So wear old clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and stained when you’re cleaning your fireplace.
Inspect Your Fireplace
Now is the time to inspect your fireplace for damage to the structure and creosote buildup. Creosote is a danger to your fireplace, your home, and you. So be sure to clean it when you notice a buildup, or better yet, hire a professional chimney sweep to inspect and clean your fireplace and chimney for you.
Make Sure It’s Cool Before You Start Cleaning
To be sure that your fireplace is cool enough to clean safely, wait at least 72 hours after your last fire before you start cleaning your fireplace. This timeframe is enough time to avoid burning yourself or putting hot coals in the garbage.
Safety First: What You Need To Know Before Starting
Soot will not only stain your clothes, but it will also stain your hands and expose your hands and lungs to toxic carcinogens. And some fireplace cleaning solutions might burn your eyes and skin.
So make sure to wear long sleeves, rubber gloves, safety goggles, and a dust mask or respirator when cleaning your fireplace. And keep the room well ventilated while cleaning. Open windows and doors in the room to get the air flowing.
Also, consider wearing knee pads or kneel on a folded towel to protect your knees from the pressure on the hard surface during cleaning.
Place a Tarp Down to Protect Your Floors and Make For an Easy Cleanup
Clear the space around your fireplace and cover the hearth and floor with a plastic tarp. A plastic tarp will protect your floors and fireplace hearth from soot and cleaning solutions. It will also make cleanup easy when you’re ready to dispose of any soot left on the tarp.
Also, cover nearby furniture with plastic sheets or drop cloths to protect your furniture from soot stains.
Keep Trash Can Handy
Keep a trash can by your side to easily dispose of debris and ash.
Remove Logs and Scoop out Debris
When you’re ready to start cleaning, first, brush off and remove any leftover logs in the fireplace and scoop out debris with a small shovel. If you happen to have leftover coffee grains from your morning coffee, sprinkle these on the ash to prevent ash from floating up into the air.
Use a hand broom and dustpan to sweep firebox and grate or andirons. Remove the andirons and brush each wall starting from the top and sweeping downwards. Sweeping top to bottom will efficiently clean the walls of ash and creosote. Repeat as necessary.
Next, sweep out the ashes and gently place them in a heavy-duty paper bag or a trash can. To remove any leftover soot or ashes, use a shop vac to vacuum your fireplace. Shop vacs are designed to handle and contain toxic debris like ash and soot that could otherwise damage and escape a regular home vacuum and get in the air.
A circular metal chimney brush will also work to clean off soot and creosote. Attached to a flexible pole, you can clean the chimney flue with the brush by spinning it around. Just make sure the flue stays open until you’re done cleaning the chimney.
Also, clean the damper ledge of creosote buildup and ensure the damper is in the right position for safety and energy conservation.
Clean Brick Surfaces Under 50 Years Old with Water & TSP Hearth Cleaning Solution (Do Not Use Hearth Cleaner On Older Bricks)
Mix warm water and TSP in a bucket, or create a cleaning solution with 3 tablespoons TSP, a ½ cup of bleach, and a quart of boiling water mixed in a bucket.
Pour the solution in a spray bottle and spray the fireplace walls and floor generously. Allow to sit for five minutes and spray again before scouring.
To scour the fireplace, dunk a bristle brush in the bucket with the remaining cleaning solution. Scrub the walls, starting from the top and working your way down. Continue spraying with cleaning solution as you go. And use old rags to wipe the fireplace after scrubbing.
Old brick is susceptible to crumbling. So to clean older brick, simply vacuum with a shop vac. Do not use any harsh cleaning solution or scour the brick with a brush.
Clean Iron Surfaces with Dish Soap & Water, Rinse, Dry off with Paper Towel
Place a few drops of liquid dish soap on a wet brush, wet the iron with water, and scrub until the soap gets sudsy. Rinse well with clean water, and dry with a clean rag or a paper towel.
Clean Marble or Stone with Water & Dishwashing Liquid, Wipe Dry with Paper Towel
In a clean bucket, mix ¼ cup liquid dish detergent with a gallon of water. Before washing with this solution, spray clean water on the surface to presoak the marble, stone, or tile.
Dip the brush in the bucket of soapy water and gently scrub the surface. Avoid scrubbing too hard so you don’t damage the surface. Some stains might always remain.
Spray again with clean water and wipe dry with a paper towel.
Fireplace Cleaning FAQS:
How often should a chimney be cleaned?
You should have your chimney cleaned at least once a year.
How do you clean ashes from a fireplace?
You can scoop up ashes with a shovel, sweep ashes with a hand brush and dustpan, and vacuum ashes with a shop vac.
Do chimney cleaning logs really work?
Not completely on their own. While chimney cleaning logs can help reduce creosote buildup, they should not be used as a substitute for regular chimney cleaning.
Can you vacuum up fireplace ash?
Yes, but only using a shop vac vacuum.
How do you clean a fireplace with TSP?
Mix 3 tablespoons of TSP with warm water or hot water, scour with a bristle brush, and rinse off with clean water.
Regular wood-burning fireplace cleaning is necessary to keep your fireplace and home safe. So make a habit of cleaning your fireplace at the end of the wood-burning season. And be sure to inspect and clean the chimney as well so your fireplace is ready to use again in the fall.