When was the last time you cleaned your fireplace? Not just emptied the logs and shoveled (you didn’t vacuum, did you?) the ash, but really cleaned it? To clean a fireplace is not even a “to do” on our spring cleaning list. Surprisingly, your fireplace should be cleaned at the end of every burning season. Chimneys also need to be cleaned and checked regularly by a professional chimney sweep every year to avoid a chimney fire.
If you follow these simple tips on how to clean a fireplace, yours can be cleaned in less than an hour.
Things you will need:
- Stiff Brush
- Abrasive tool
- Protective clothing
- A sheet or cloth to protect surrounding area
- An old towel (one that is okay to stain)
- Coffee grounds – helps to keep ashes from becoming airborne
- Kneeling pad
- All-purpose cleaner
- DIY stain remover
- Fireplace shovel
- Cream of Tartar
- Distilled white vinegar
Start by laying down a tarp or towels around the fireplace to protect your flooring from soot. Make sure to wear protective clothing as soot is extremely difficult to remove from fabric.
Remove the grate from the fireplace while wearing protective gloves. Place the grate on the old towel to prevent soot getting on the flooring. Remove any large debris in the fireplace and throw away the large chunks of burnt logs.
Using a hand-held brush, start at the top of the of the fireplace and brush the loose dust from the walls of the flue. A simple tip to keep ashes from becoming air borne is to sprinkle dried coffee grounds on top of the ashes. Remove the ashes and the grounds with a dust pan or a fireplace shovel and dispose in garbage bag. Never use a household vacuum to clean up the ash. The ash in a fireplace will destroy a vacuum motor because vacuum bags are not designed to capture fireplace soot. Alternatively, use a specialized vacuum designed specifically for ashes.
Next, spray an all-purpose cleaner on the walls and floor of the fireplace, and the exterior brick if there are soot stains on it. Let it sit for 30 minutes to let the cleaner absorb into the pours of the brick. The ingredients of the all-purpose cleaner will work to break down the carbon that is contained in the soot. After it sits, use a scrub brush to clean the brick.
If the brick is stained, clean it with a DIY stain remover made with Cream of Tartar and water. Mix the Cream of Tartar powder with water to create a thin paste. Use a tooth brush and scrub the mixture into the brick. Let the paste dry to a powder. Use a soft brush to remove the powder from the brick. The powder will pull the soot from the pours of the brick. Another method is to spray the stained area with distilled white vinegar and brush the Cream of Tartar into the stain so that the acid in the vinegar will break up the soot.
Use a wire brush to remove burnt on creosote that has built up on the fireplace grate. Place the grate back into the chimney. Make sure to use dry wood in your fireplace to keep the buildup to a minimum.
Spring cleaning should always include the fireplace if you have one. And now you’ll never have to wonder how to clean a fireplace the right way.