How To Clean Soot From Fireplace Stone In Easy Steps

A beautiful, well-designed fireplace is the perfect focal point in our living rooms. However, if you don’t clean the fireplace, it can ruin the entire ambience of the area. Moreover, no matter how well maintained your brick fireplace is, it will inevitably accumulate some soot of the façade and the hearth at the end of the day.

Traditional living room with stone fireplace

As bricks are porous, you simply can’t wipe the soot away to clean them. This article will tell you how to clean soot from fireplace stone in easy, simple, DIY steps. Without further ado, let’s get started!

Cleaning a Stone Fireplace – Step-by-Step Instructions 

We all enjoy a warm, roaring fire. However, no one likes the black, sooty buildup accumulated over time. Soot and smoke billow out and coat the fireplace stone. Over time, the firebox, the mantle, and the entire fireplace become dingy, ugly, and sooty.

Many people think of cleaning a stone fireplace as an impossible chore. However, like any other job in the world, all you need are the right tools and helpful tips. Let’s take a look at some tips for removing soot stains from your fireplace’s hearth or brick façade. 

Things You Will Need

  • Plastic Tarp
  • Drop Cloths
  • Small Shovel
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Metal Container
  • Dust Mask
  • Water
  • Vacuum Cleaner with Brush Attachment
  • Small Bucket
  • Stick
  • Scrubbing Brush
  • Clean Rags
  • TSP
  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda (Optional)
  • Cream of Tartar (optional)
  • Borax
  • Ammonia
  • Dishwashing Liquid

DIY Steps

Prepare the Fireplace

a stone fireplace decorated with books

  1. After you extinguish the last fire, let the fireplace cool for at least 12 hours
  2. To keep the area around the fireplace clean and safe from staining, lay down drop cloths on the floor
  3. Moreover, cover the furniture with a tarp to keep it safe from airborne dust and cleaning fluids. 
  4. Wear protective gloves and a dust mask. Take out the grate. With a small shovel, scoop the leftover ashes from the firebox. Discard the ashes carefully – better yet, use them as fertiliser in your garden!
  5. With the help of a vacuum, clean the fireplace from top to bottom. This will make it easier for you to remove the soot from the stone later. Want a pro-tip? During winters, go through the steps mentioned above weekly to keep the soot from accumulating and ruining the way your fireplace looks. 

Choose Your Cleaning Solution

There are various options that you can use as cleaning solutions. The one you choose will depend on the extent of smoke stains and the age of the bricks.

1. Dishwashing Detergent

As a general rule of thumb, go with the mildest dishwashing agent and then go from there. Take four cups of hot water and mix ¼ cup of grease-cutting dish soap. This cleaning mixture is gentle and will be safe enough for old bricks. 

2. Vinegar

Another option is using distilled white vinegar. White vinegar can damage fireplace bricks older than 20 years, so be careful while using this. Mix equal parts warm water and vinegar to form a solution. Add one spoon of dishwashing liquid per litre of the solution as well. 

3. Commercial Cleaners

You can clean the fireplace with commercial bathroom cleaners as well. Just make sure that the cleaners are not damaging the fireplace stone. Usually, you have to apply the cleaners to the stone for 15 minutes before starting scrubbing.

a cozy stone fireplace burning

4. Strong Cleaners

If, as mentioned earlier, the fireplace still has stains even after using the cleaners, you will have to use stronger detergents. Mix 2 tbsp. of borax with 4 cups of warm water. Add 1 tbsp. of dish soap. 

Other than this, mix half a cup of ammonia with four cups of water. Add ¼ cup of dish soap. You can also use ½ cup TSP (trisodium phosphate) in one litre of warm water. TSP works not only as a heavy-duty cleaner but also as a degreaser. 

This makes it highly effective when it comes to cleaning stains. However, since this solution is pretty strong, make sure that it doesn’t get on fabrics, carpets, or your skin. With just a little elbow grease, you will have a clean fireplace in no time!

Scrub the Fireplace

  1. Before applying a fireplace cleaner to the bricks, you need to saturate the bricks with plain water. The bricks are porous and will absorb the water. Thus, applying the soapy solution will stay on the brick surface instead of sinking in. Use a masonry sponge to wet the bricks down or a spray bottle.
  2. Dip the hard bristle brush into the soapy solution, and use the stiff brush to scrub the fireplace from top to bottom. This will loosen all the trapped dirt, dust, grime, etc., in the stone. You can also use a spray bottle to spritz the cleaner directly onto the bricks. 
  3. It is better to work from top to bottom so that dirty water doesn’t create streaks on the already clean areas. Scrub in a circular motion. Work on small areas, and if the stains don’t come, reapply the cleaning solution and scrub again. 

Clean the Fireplace

  1. Take some clean water and dip a clean rag in it. Use the rag to clean up as much of the soapy suds and dirt as possible. Repeat as many times as necessary.
  2. With a dry cloth or towel, pat the fireplace dry. Let the fireplace dry thoroughly before lighting it up. 
  3. Once you have cleaned the entire fireplace, some areas will still have stubborn spot stains. You will have to spot-clean the stubborn soot stains. Create a paste of cream of tartar or baking soda with some water. Apply it to the stains with a small toothbrush and let the paste sit for 15 minutes. Scrub firmly and rinse. Voila! You have a clean brick fireplace!

Tips for Fireplace Maintenance

Want your fireplace to stay spic ad span all the time? Here are some tips that will help you maintain a clean fireplace easily. 

  1. Don’t leave your fireplace neglected. Lightly clean it regularly instead of deep cleaning it once or twice a season.
  2. Only burn well-dried, seasoned wood. This will reduce creosote, smoke, and soot accumulation.
  3. An annual check of the chimney, firebox, and flue is necessary. If there is any creosote blockage, remove it.
  4. We recommend that you vacuum the hearth once every week
  5. Never use water to put out a fire unless it is an emergency. This will create a nasty paste with ashes that will be hard to clean.
  6. We suggest that you don’t use harsh chemicals and cleaning products such as bleach inside the fireplace since they might leave a flammable residue. 

a living room with high ceiling, a leather sofa and a stone fireplace

When it comes to natural stone fireplaces, the dust and dirt go undetected compared with brick fireplaces. However, you have to clean the fireplace regularly since the microscopic pits on natural stone collect their fair share of dust, soot, dirt, creosote, etc. 

Removing them is an inexpensive and relatively easy task. Cleaning the fireplace stone is the best way to maintain the safety, efficiency, and beauty of your hearth. Use the cleaning tips and tricks mentioned in this article and learn how to clean stains from fireplace stone in easy, simple steps!  Coming next: Can you paint marble fireplace?

Here’s to a clean stone fireplace that roars with radiance all season long!

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