The Best Techniques to Clean Your Fireplace

Cleaning your fireplace may seem like a daunting task, but it’s easy if you use these simple techniques.

By Tina Jepson

 

It’s the middle of winter and chances are your fireplace is experiencing some heavy use these days. Truth be told, there are not that many things better than drinking a warm beverage next to a crackling fire on a frigid, snowy evening. But the next day, you’re always left with a mess!

 

Building a real fire in a traditional fireplace takes effort on the front end and the back end — yet it’s all worth it. The key is to know exactly how to clean a fireplace.

 

Follow these steps to clean your fireplace, and you’ll be back to enjoy your cozy fires in no time flat.

 

The Peripheral Clean

It’s always a good idea to perform a quick clean 24-hours after a fire. This fast and easy cleaning task ensures your fireplace is neat and tidy for the next fire and helps maintain the area in between deep cleans.

 

1. Remove any Fireplace Paraphernalia

Do you have a screen cover, grate, or other gear in your fireplace? If so, begin your quick clean by removing these items and placing them to the side.

 

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2. Clean the Ashes

Remove the ashes from your fireplace using a fireplace shovel. Carefully put the ashes in a trash can or brown paper bag.

 

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Many homeowners wonder: can you vacuum fireplace ashes? For safety’s sake, it’s best to avoid vacuuming up any potentially warm ashes, which can both destroy your vacuum and potentially start a fire.

 

3. Tidy the Hearth

The heart, the area just in front of a fireplace, gets surprising dirty during a roaring fire. To clean a fireplace hearth, simply use a straw fireplace broom or regular broom to gather all the stray wood chips and ashes into a pile. Then, gather them all up and dispose of them in the trashcan or a paper bag.

 

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4. Place All Items Back

Dust off any ashes on the fireplace screen and grate and place back in the fireplace. If you plan on having a fire in the near future, go ahead and set your logs up, so you’re ready to go when the time comes. As a bonus, this preparation is bound to add a nice and cozy aesthetic.

 

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The Thorough Clean

We have seven separate fireplaces in my home, many of which haven’t been thoroughly cleaned in decades before we moved in. Therefore, I make sure to deep-clean the fireplaces I frequently use once every month.

 

A thorough clean is a vital maintenance component to keep your chimney and flue clear.

 

1. Perform the Peripheral Clean

Start your deep clean by performing steps 1-3 of the peripheral clean, just don’t put everything back. You’ve got work to do!

 

2. Remove Excess Soot

Old soot often crumbles when brushed off. Using a nylon scrubber or a textured sponge, work your tool over the soot using circular motions.

 

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3. Make a Cleaning Solution

While there are numerous chimney cleaner products and other fireplace focused solvents on the market, many contain harsh chemicals. If your fireplace and bricks are older, these chemicals may actually do more harm than good. To be on the safe side, make your own cleaning solution from household materials.

 

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Mix the following items in a spray bottle:

  • ½ cup of white vinegar
  • 5 drops of dish soap
  • 3 tablespoons of baking soda
  • 1 cup of warm water

 

You may be surprised, but I’ve found this combination to be some of the best stuff to clean brick (on my fireplace and elsewhere around my house).

 

4. Spray & Scrub

Spray a thick, even amount of this cleaning solution around the fireplace. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes. Then, spot test using a clean, wet sponge. If the soot only barely comes off, spray another coat of the cleaning solution and wait another few minutes.

 

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Scrub the surface using your sponge or nylon brush.

 

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Repeat the process until you’re satisfied with the result

 

5. Prepare for the Next Fire

Place everything all your fireplace gear back where it belongs. Then, set up a fire so, you’re ready for the next time.

 

While you’re at it, throw a handful of salt or a few cubes of rock salt on the logs. Burning rock salt to clean a chimney is an easy way to remove some of the creosote that accumulates as the smoke moves through.

 

Regardless of when or how you clean your fireplace, it’s important to stay on top of this chore.

 

You and your guests will definitely enjoy glancing at a pristine fireplace all year long!

 

Images used with permission, courtesy of Tina Jepson and www.shutterstock.com

Next: 10 Surprising Tips for a Cleaner Bathroom