How to clean fireplace bricks

How to clean fireplace bricks

04 November, 2020

I t doesn't matter how careful I am maintaining my wood-burning fire, eventually some soot escapes the firebox and scatters onto the bricks and tiles of the surrounding facade and hearth. 

Soot is just the black particulates that occur naturally when any organic and carbon-filled materials are not burned completely.  Once you notice a build up of black streaks or stains, it's time to get that scabbing brush out.

How Often Should You Clean Your Bricks?
Once you notice a small built up, it's time to give it a clean.  If you leave soot to build up it can cause permanent damage, especially to porous surfaces.

The more often you use your fireplace, the more often you'll have to clean it.  But the sooner you do it, the easier the job will be.

Before you begin
There are several methods and solutions you can use to clean your fireplace.  There are things in your cupboards you use everyday, or you can opt for chemicals that you can buy from any good DIY shop.  Here I'll talk about the method you can use with everyday cleaning products you'll find in your cupboards.

Protect Your Floors
It's worth paying out for a waterproof floor covering to protect carpets and floors from spills and stains, because cleaning soot off bricks can be a messy business.

Clearing out ash and debris
Make sure your fireplace is nice and cold before you start.  Use a small brush to sweep out all the ash and debris that have built up in the grate and firebox.  These can be put onto your compost or scattered around your flower beds.  Use a suitable vacuum cleaner to collect up the rest of the small particles and dust.  Vacuum the hearth and fireplace surround to remove as much soot and dust as possible.  Clear the mantle of any decorative items to prevent excessive dust from settling on them.

What you'll need to clean the bricks with:

  • Dish washing liquid
  • Table salt
  • Water
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Two buckets
  • Spray bottle
  • Firm scrubbing brush
  • Two sponges

How to clean fireplace bricks with detergent and salt

This is a nice mild cleaning method and should be tried first before moving on to more harsher chemicals.

1.  Mix the cleaning solution
Pour 4.5 litres of warm water and two tablespoons of your dishwashing liquid into one bucket.  Fill the second bucket with 4.5 litres of cool water and add one cup of distilled white vinegar.

2.  Spritz
Fill the spray bottle with plain water and spritz a small area of the stain.  Work in small sections.  Spraying larger areas just means the water will dry out before you get to that section.

3.  Scrub
Dip the scrubbing brush into the dishwashing liquid solution, then sprinkle the table salt liberally over the brush.  The salt is a mild abrasive, which will help to loosen the soot from the bricks.  Scrub away...

4.  Rinse
Use one sponge to wipe away the cleaning solution and loosened soot.  Dip the second sponge in the water and vinegar solution and wipe down the cleaned area.  The vinegar helps to remove any soapy residue.  White vinegar has a strong odour, you may wish to open a window to air the place out after you have cleaned.

5.  Repeat
If the bricks are still stained, repeat the process.

If the stain is very stubborn, you may want to move onto a chemical solution.


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