Not only can your fireplace offer a wonderful way to relax in your home during colder weather, a fireplace can also be a beautiful focal point for a room’s décor.
That’s right up until the point when a little too much soot has accumulated on your fireplace brick, and you have got a mess on your hands. Since we’re all accustomed to keeping our fireplaces swept out, all free and clear of ashes, cleaning the soot off the fireplace brick shouldn’t be much of a challenge. Well, maybe…
There’s no quick and simple way to clean off fireplace soot, but it’s got to be done. So if you’ve reached the point where you just can’t put it off any longer, here are some tips for you to help you clean up that sooty brick and get your fireplace looking fresh again.
What is Soot?
Soot is an oily black powder that is created by the incomplete burning of wood, coal, and organic matter.
Not only will soot accumulate on your brick fireplace, it can also leave residue on your walls and ceilings. Why is soot so difficult to clean?
-The black carbon that comes with ashes can quickly and easily stain surfaces in your home
-The oily quality of soot makes it difficult to clean
-Smoke particles tend to go everywhere
-If you have unsealed brick in your fireplace, it will be more easily stained by soot because the soot can penetrate into the bricks natural cracks and openings
How to Clean Your Brick Fireplace
Before you tackle this job, there are a few safety tips when cleaning brick that you should follow:
- Wear goggles and use rubber gloves to protect skin and eyes from chemicals and dirt particles
- Rinse the brick off in between applications of cleaning
- Always rinse chemicals completely from the brick before applying a different cleaning solution
- Always keep the room you are working in well-ventilated, open windows and do NOT mix chemicals together
The best way to begin your cleaning project is to vacuum everything. Brick walls, fireplace brick and surrounds, The easiest and most efficient way to start is to vacuum—the brick wall, fireplace, fireplace surround, and surrounding floor to remove as much loose dirt as possible before you begin deep cleaning.
When your brick is really, really filthy, it’s recommended to begin with a dishwashing liquid like Dawn, and work from there. The recommended solution most cleaning experts recommend is ½ cup of dishwashing detergent and 4 cups of hot water. Combine these ingredients in a spray bottle, spray the dirty brick with the solution, and scrub away with a nylon bristle brush.
Remember to use caution if your brick is sealed or painted—too much vigorous brushing might have a negative impact on the appearance of your fireplace brick.
A second method to try is to mix a cup of salt and a cup of dishwashing liquid together. The abrasive quality of salt will help you scrub off some of the oily residue and stains more easily. With this method, mix the salt and dishwashing liquid into a paste, scoop it onto a clean rag, and slather it onto the brick. Let the solution sit a few moments, then scrub the soap and salt paste to remove it from the brick (use a green scrubby). Rinse the brick completely with water, then vacuum up the left over salt and debris.
Another way to clean brick is by mixing up old-fashioned Borax with dishwashing liquid and hot water. The solution is made with 2 tablespoons Borax, 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, and 4 cups of hot water. Mix all of the ingredients together in a spray bottle, spray your brick in sections, scrubbing each section with a green scrubby in a circular motion or a nylon bristle brush to loosen and remove debris. Once you have finished a section, clean it off with a clean, damp rag.
If you’d like to try a prepared solution that many say really works great, we also recommend trying the Brick and Stone Cleaner from Rutland. This product doesn’t add any dangerous acids to your brick cleaning project, but still does a great job cleaning up soot, smoke and creosote, and helping to restore the look and appearance of your fireplace.
If you have tried everything you can think of and the stains still don’t come off, it might be time for you to contact a brick cleaning professional.