If you have ever found yourself wondering why and how to clean a fireplace? Then this article is for you.
Having a fireplace can be one of life’s simple pleasures. Who doesn’t like sitting next to the open fire with friends and family?
However, along with having a fireplace comes the matter of paying attention to your chimney’s cleanliness and safety.
Cleaning a fireplace isn’t the average person’s favorite thing to do, but if you don’t keep up with the chore, there are consequences far worse than spending half an hour cleaning.
Additionally, if you don’t keep your fireplace clean, soot, ash, and other debris may start making their way into your living spaces.
Pro Tip: Be sure to wait a whole day after your last fire before cleaning the fireplace to allow it to cool completely. Additionally, consider wearing old clothes and safety glasses, gloves, and a mask, as this cleaning exercise can get messy.
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How To Clean a Fireplace Without Making a Mess| Handy DIY Tips
Take note that cleaning a heavy-duty fireplace should be left to the professionals as taking on this task yourself could result in a significant mess, or worse yet, injuries.
However, the following tips can teach you how to clean a fireplace so that your home looks as warm as it feels.
1. Removing Soot and Debris From Your Fireplace
Dust and soot are going to be the messiest aspects of your brick fireplace.
Additionally, the ash left behind by fire is very fine, which can make sweeping it out of the fireplace a daunting task.
- Remove the andirons and grate from your fireplace and take them outside.
- Use a nylon brush to scrub and remove soot; once they are clean, rinse them with water, and wipe dry afterward. Use a metal polish for extra shine.
- Clean the fireplace using a fireplace shovel to remove the piles of ashes and debris deposited there and discard them in the trash can.
- Once the large piles are removed, scrub the walls of the fireplace with a nylon brush.
- Place newspapers along the bottom to collect the falling soot. Begin at the top and work your way down; when it’s clean, you can carefully bag up the dust, remove the newspapers, and discard them.
Optional: Use a vacuum hose or hand vacuum cleaner to remove excess dust, and hold on to the ashes if you’ll be cleaning the fireplace glass; keep reading to find out how.
2. Deep-Cleaning your Fireplace
- After you’ve removed all dust, soot, and debris, you can use a warm-water, bleach, and Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) solution to deep-clean your fireplace walls and floor.
- Mix 6 tablespoons of TSP, 1 cup of bleach, and 1 gallon of warm water into a plastic bucket.
- While wearing rubber gloves, dip your nylon brush into the bucket, and then use the solution to scrub the walls and floor of your fireplace until they’re clean.
- However, note that some of the old fireplaces may contain stains you can’t remove.
- Rinse the floor and walls with clean water and towel-dry.
- Replace your grate and andirons.
CAUTION: NEVER mix bleach with ammonia. ALWAYS read the product label when using any cleaner.
3. Cleaning Fireplace Glass
- It’s advisable to begin reading the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions and warranty to ensure there aren’t specific cleaning recommendations. Ideally, the last thing you want to do is void a warranty Additionally, make sure you spot test a small area before beginning the cleaning exercise.
- Next, sure your fire has completely died out, and the glass is cool to touch.
- Ball up a paper towel and dampen it in a mixture using equal parts warm water and white vinegar, and dip it into the ash until you have a coated surface to work on.
- The ash works as a gentle exfoliator to help remove built-on stains
- Once you have removed the most stubborn stains, spray the glass directly with the water and vinegar mix and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. A razor blade can help remove any left behind gunk.
- Thoroughly scrub the glass until it’s clean
- Once all the grime has been cleaned up, wipe off any streaks with a dry microfiber cloth.
Note: If this method doesn’t work, you may have to resort to a more potent cleaner in place of the ash.
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4. Remove Smoke Stains From Sides Of the Fireplace
If the sides of your fireplace are stained with smoke, you can remove stains using a cleaning solution.
However, it’s worth noting that you need to rinse off the area before applying any cleaners.
This prevents the cleaning solution from quickly soaking in; this step is especially crucial if dealing with brick.
- In a mixing bowl, mix a cleaning solution using ¼ cup all-purpose cleaner and 1 gallon of water.
- Then proceed to dip a rough bristled brush into the solution and scrub at the stains quickly.
- It’s advisable to have a clean sponge on hand to wipe the solution clean and let the area dry.
- However, if you plan to clean marble or tile, spray the area with water and then use a soft cloth dipped in mild dishwashing liquid to scrub over the area and later on rinse the area and wipe dry.
Additionally, if the brick has aged, it is more prone to crumbling if scrubbed with a cleaner. Instead of scrubbing, use a vacuum and a soft brush to go over the dirty areas.
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A Quick Way To Tell If Your Fireplace and Chimney Needs Cleaning
A preferably ideal and straightforward way to go about it is to run the point of your fireplace poker along the inside of your chimney liner.
If you happen to find a 1/8-in. or more buildup layer of soot (the thickness of a nickel), then it’s advisable to embark on cleaning your chimney.
Nevertheless, most homeowners wait too long before conducting chimney sweeps, which could inevitably lead to chimney fires due to heavy creosote buildup.
During your chimney sweeps, it’s advisable that other than looking for the soot buildup, you can also be on the lookout for obstructions, cracks in the chimney liner, and signs of water damage.
Signs the Chimney Needs Cleaning
- Odors coming from the fireplace when not in use
- Fires that burn slowly or poorly
- Smoke fills the room
- A black damper
Additionally, older chimneys often have gaps between clay liner sections where the mortar has fallen out.
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Gather Your Supplies and Get the Right Cleaning Tools
1. Match the Brush To the Flue Liner
Buy enough rods to handle the entire height of your fireplace chimney.
2. Get Special Brushes for the Firebox
Buy a bendable “noodle brush” to clean the smoke shelf and a long-handled brush to clean soot off the sides of the fireplace.
Pro tip: There’s no “one-size-fits-all” brush for cleaning the flue. So you’ll have to climb up on your roof and measure the size of your flue liner.
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Takeaway on How to Clean a Fireplace
Before lighting your fireplace, it’s worth noting that unclean chimneys and fireplaces are the leading cause of most house fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Knowing how to clean a fireplace at the end of the colder months can make the idea of lighting that cozy fire a bit more enticing.
So until the weather warms up, keep your hearth soot-free and enjoy the crackling sounds of the fire that makes your home seem that much cozier.
Additionally, one other thing that should be considered while cleaning your chimney is to ensure that the airflow is uninterrupted and unidirectional.
If proper maintenance of the chimney is not done correctly, there might be a reverse airflow that can fill your room with smoke.
On the other hand, keep your fireplace clean longer by using dry wood, vacuuming weekly, and only using water to put out a fire if it’s an emergency.
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