Who would resist curling up in front of a fire, especially during winter and fall? And who wants to clean a fireplace? Much less of us enjoy that part of the fireplace experience. Anybody would find delight in a crackling fire, but failing to attend to your fireplace can be disastrous.
Soot deposits, when left for a long time, condense into creosote, which is highly toxic and can cause fires (not the fun kind). This explains why it is important to clean your fireplace often, but how do you do it and how often? This article is a simple guide on how to clean a fireplace.
To clean your fireplace effectively, you will need several tools and materials. Having the right supplies makes your work much easier and efficient.
- Rubber gloves
- Dustpan and hand broom
- Spray bottle
- Nylon-bristled scrub brush
- Old sheets or towels
- Safety glasses
- Dust mask
Step 1 Protect the Surrounding Area
Debris, dust, and soot are tiny particles that can move far into different parts of the room. Use old towels and sheets to cover nearby carpet, furniture, and the hearth.
Ash and sot on any surface would call for even more cleaning after you are done with the fireplace. Before you start removing the soot, put on some old clothes. You will also need plastic gloves to protect your palms.
Step 2 Clear Debris off the Fireplace
An old fireplace, especially one that is not frequently used, will be full of all manner of debris. Remove it using a broomstick and ensure that the chimney damper remains in place.
Clean the firebox area and scoop out any loose ashes. Sprinkling coffee grounds or sweeping compound over the ashes is a great way to reduce the amount of debris that gets in the air.
Also, ensure that you have your safety mask and protective eye gear on to keep you protected as you sweep the fireplace’s interior.
Step 3 Dry Scrub the Fireplace
Use a dry small nylon brush, clean the chimney from top to bottom to remove any loose ashes or dust that might be stuck inside the chimney and mortar joints. Also, sweep the chimney’s doorway to remove any dust or ashes.
Step 4 Apply Cleaner
Spray down the fireplace with the all-purpose cleaner and let it soak for a few minutes. Follow up with another layer of cleaner to really wet the area down and make scrubbing easier.
Fill a bucket with warm water and add some of the cleaner to the water.
Step 5 Wet Scrub the Fireplace
Using a stiff bristle nylon brush scrub the outside of the fireplace first if there is any build-up soot there then move to the inside of the firebox. and scrub aggressively dipping the brush into the water mixture often to clean the bristles and wash the soot off. The warm water will help break up the soot.
Once you feel like you have made enough progress that you are satisfied, use an old rag to wipe to the majority of the soapy, dirty residue off.
Dump the dirty water in the bucket and fill it with clean water only then coming back with a damp cloth or sponge wipe the remaining residue off until the bricks are clean.
Keeping a Clean Fireplace
Having a clean fireplace isn’t all about creating a beautiful sight in your home: it is also about good health and preventing your house from catching fire. Contact with creosote and soot can lead to eye and skin irritation or even cause adverse respiratory problems so keeping a regular cleaning schedule is important.
It largely depends how often you use your fireplace but a good rule of thumb is do a thorough cleaning and inspection at least once a year according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
Keeping Down Buildup
Use dry woods instead of wet ones for your fireplace, as they burn more efficiently and have less smoke. Reduced smoke means that you will have fewer stains within the fireplace.
Vacuuming the fireplace regularly helps keep it clean, too. If you do it regularly, you will cut back on having to remove and sweep debris when cleaning the fireplace. However, do not vacuum unless the embers have been left to dry for at least 12 hours.
Have a Routine
It is possible to neglect your fireplace, especially during the cold months of the year when all you want is to remain warm. I get it, but remember that your safety and health is more important.
Setting up a regular cleaning schedule for your fireplace will reduce the amount of effort, cost, and material it would cost you if you wait for the thorough cleaning process.
Make it a regular part of your fall maintenance checklist to clean your chimney and get it ready for the cold weather.
Using the Ashes
The ashes from your fireplace don’t have to go in the trash. You can use the ashes on your flowerbeds. The debris is a significant source of calcium, so you can use it for your plants.
In addition, the ashes can be used to deter soft-bodied pests such as snails and slugs from invading your space. Help your garden and help the planet by recycling.
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.