How to Properly Clean Your Fireplace

Ray Leonzi

Nothing beats a crackling fire on a cold winter day. Fires provide warmth, comfort and can even be used for cooking. While fires can be wonderful, they do require some additional responsibilities. If you use your fireplace regularly, then it should be thoroughly cleaned periodically. The overall process is relatively simple but listed below is a step by step guide on how to clean your fireplace.


This seems obvious, but never clean a hot fireplace

Wait a minimum of 48 hours after your last fire. If there are still any warm coals, wait to clean out the fireplace as they can be a fire hazard or you could burn yourself.


Cover the carpet and surrounding area

Wood burning creates a tremendous amount of ash and soot. Lay down plastic sheeting or newspaper around the fireplace so you don't stain your carpet. Since fireplace cleaning is a messy task, be sure to use a face mask and wear old clothes.


Clean the damper

Locate the fireplace damper and clean it off using a stiff brush. If you can’t find the damper, ask for help as creosote and soot can build up very quickly.


Clean the ashes from the fireplace hearth

Sweep out the ashes using a dustpan and hand broom and place them in a lined trash can. If there are a large amount of ashes you may need to repeat the process several times.


Remove any remaining particles

A vacuum or shop vac is ideal to remove the rest of the debris.


Scrub your fireplace with a solution

There are fireplace cleaning solutions available, but vinegar and water typically works well. Mix one part vinegar to two parts water and add a teaspoon of baking soda for scouring power. Another alternative solution is one gallon of water and a cup of bleach. Use a stiff brush with the solution and scrub all areas of the hearth.


Clean the fire grate and fire tools

Steel wool and metal polish can be used to restore these fireplace items to their former attractiveness. After they are polished, use the vinegar and water cleaner to remove any polish residue as it may be flammable. Thoroughly dry all of the items before placing them back so rust does not form.


Wipe down the area around the fireplace

If there is ash and soot in the surrounding area, first use a hand broom or vacuum cleaner then wipe it with a clean rag and the vinegar solution.


Pick up the plastic sheeting or newspapers and throw them away

It is recommended to vacuum the entire area to ensure there aren't any remaining ashes or soot on the floor.


Replace the fire grate and fire tools

For a finishing touch, consider adding a log or two in the fireplace and restocking the indoor wood supply. This way your home looks nice and you will be ready to start your next fire.


Cleaning a fireplace isn't difficult. Fireplace cleaning helps the fireplace burn cleaner and keeps your home fresh. When done every few months, fireplace cleaning is easy to do and maintain. Keep your fireplace clean so you can enjoy it on those cold winter nights.

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