How to clean fireplace bricks.

If you have unsightly stains on your fireplace hearth or brick facade. There are ways to get it to look like new again. A fireplace can be difficult to clean. No matter how well you maintain your brick fireplace, using it will inevitably lead to some accumulation of soot on the hearth and facade. Since bricks are porous—that is, their surface is covered with small holes—cleaning them isn’t a simple matter of wiping the soot away.

However, there are a few tricks to this task that will make cleaning bricks much easier.

    1. First Make sure you start with a completely cold fireplace.
    2. When you’re ready to clean, take out the grate and any leftover ashes.
    3. Then use the shovel and brush from your fireplace tools to get the soot and ash out of the firebox.
    4. If there’s a secret to cleaning fireplace brick, it’s this: saturate the bricks with plain water before applying a cleanser and starting to scrub. Since you’re working inside your home, you’ll want to put a waterproof drop cloth down first, but don’t skip this step. The porous brick will absorb the water so that when you apply your soap or other cleaning solution, it will stay toward the surface instead of sinking in.
      • You can wet the bricks down with a masonry sponge, which should be available at most hardware stores, or a spray bottle. Generally, you should start with the mildest possible cleanser and see if that will remove the bulk of the soot.
        • In this case, go with ¼ cup of a clear, grease-cutting dish soap diluted in four cups of water.
          • This cleanser is gentle enough that it should be safe even on older bricks.
      • Distilled white vinegar is another option, though it is acidic enough that it might be damaging to bricks older than about 20 years, so use it carefully. Mix equal parts vinegar and warm water to form this cleaning solution. You can also add dishwashing detergent, though only a small amount—about two tablespoons to every gallon. If you use the above cleaners but still have soot stains, you can consider moving on to stronger detergents.
        • Keep in mind, however, that these might damage older or fragile bricks, and you may need to wear gloves and eye protection as well as ensure good ventilation.
      • Here are some options for removing stubborn stains on brick.
        • You can mix two tablespoons of borax with four cups of water and one tablespoon of dish soap, Mix ½ cup of ammonia with four cups of water and ¼ cup of dish soap, or even Mix ⅛ cup trisodium phosphate (TSP) with one gallon of hot water.
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    5. Next is scrubbing the bricks, Working in small areas to keep the bricks from drying out, scrub the surface with a firm, plastic-bristled scrub brush in a circular motion. If the soot stains don’t appear to be coming out, lightly reapply the cleaning solution and give it a few minutes to work before beginning to scrub.
    6. Once you’ve scrubbed a small area, go ahead and rinse it before moving on.
    7. Use a sponge dipped in clean water to rinse each spot several times.
      • If the rinsing bucket becomes dirty or soapy, change the water.
      • After you’ve cleaned large areas with the solutions above, you may need to go back and spot-clean any particularly stubborn soot stains.
        • To do this, create a paste of either baking soda or cream of tartar mixed with a small amount of water.
        • Apply it to the remaining soot and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
        • Then scrub with a firm toothbrush or small scrub brush and rinse.
        • If a gentler cleaner didn’t work, you may need to repeat your efforts or move on to a more aggressive method.
        • The more often you use your fireplace, the more often you’ll need to clean it.
        • If soot stains persist, don’t be afraid to call a professional chimney sweep as they are trained to remove this type of soot and stains.