Home Blog How To Clean Fireplace Bricks (12 Effective Methods)

How To Clean Fireplace Bricks (12 Effective Methods)

by Fireplace Fact
how to clean fireplace bricks

Suppose you think about having a wood burning fireplace in your home. In that case, it’s innovative features and eye-charming looks indeed make you pretty excited, right? A fireplace in your home also enables your taste of aesthetics to go a bit higher and adds financial benefits as well. When you think about the fantastic advantages of having a fireplace, your mind often goes around the thought about how to clean the fireplace brick. Well, cleaning is one of the most essential tasks to maintain your fireplace. If you are concerned about cleaning a fireplace brick, we are right here to help you!



Things To Do Before Cleaning Fireplace Bricks



Before starting to clean, there are several steps you should take, which will help you to protect your fireplace and make it shinier! These steps will enable you to apply the cleaning method properly as well. Just like every game needs some warm-up, think these steps as a warm-up before cleaning the fireplace bricks!


1. Brush Away Soot And Ashes

You need to clear loose ash and soot out first to get rid of the mess on your hands when you start adding water. To brush away loose ash and soot, you’ll need a broom and a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment. It can also be useful to put down an old sheet since this is going to get messy.

  • Take a broom and give the bricks a good brush.
  • Attach a brush to the vacuum cleaner and brush up all the soot.

Brush Away Soot And Ashes

2. Vacuum And Dust The Fireplace 

Vacuum the fireplace surround and hearth to remove as much soot and dust as possible as well. Clear the cover of any decorative items to prevent excessive dust from settling on them.


3. Clean Away Ashes, Soot, And Debris

  • Remove the grate and andirons, and all of the debris and ashes in the firebox.
  • After disposing of the ashes adequately and safely, use a shop vacuum to gather up any small particles.

4. Protect Your Floors

  • Grab a waterproof drop cloth to protect your floors and carpets from spills and stains.
  • Use water carefully so that the floor is protected. Use plastic rugs if you don’t have waterproof cloth near you.


Basic Steps To Clean Fireplace Bricks In Any Method



1. Cleaning Fireplace Bricks With Regular Household Products

You don’t have to buy expensive items to clean your fireplace bricks or need to find unique materials to clean it. You can simply clean your fireplace brick with your regular household materials. Look for yourself!


2. Cleaning Fireplace Bricks With Dawn and Salt

While not completely environmental or organic, using soap, salt, and the bristle brush is one of the safest, cheapest, and simplest ways to clean fireplace bricks both inside and out. You’ll simply need to follow these steps:

  1. Mix equal parts (approximately one ounce each) dawn dish soap and table salt with enough water to cause the mixture and blend the mixture into a cream. Do not add too much water!
  2. Cover the bricks with a cloth or dish towel, mixing the mixture as mentioned above.
  3. Let it soak for around 10 minutes.
  4. Use a bristle brush, and working from the top-down, scrub the bricks in a circular motion.
  5. Spray some water on to the solution to get a bit more scrubbing action.
  6. Rinse and wipe.
  7. Repeat if you need to.

3. Cleaning Fireplace Bricks Using Baking Soda And Soap

  1. Combine ½ cup (5 ounces) of baking soda with 2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 44 mL) of dish soap to make a cleaning solution. 
  2. Dip a scrub brush into the solution and scrub the bricks using circular and small motions. 
  3. Wait for the paste sit on the bricks for about 5 minutes
  4. Rinse it off with warm water
  5. When scrubbing the bricks, work from the bottom up to avoid leaving streaks.

4. Cleaning Fireplace Bricks With Vinegar

While thinking of cleaning fireplace bricks, vinegar might not be the first thing that pops into your mind. But, you’ll be amazed to know that the acidity of the vinegar is excellent for breaking down the build-up on bricks. You need to be aware of the age of your bricks, though. If you have older bricks, vinegar should not be your go-to method. Follow these steps to get a fantastic outcome with vinegar:

  1. Properly mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle.
  2. Give the inside bricks of the fireplace a good soak, spray the outside then.
  3. Wait for 2-5 minutes and spray again.
  4. Working from the outside in, scrub with a bristle brush in a circular motion.
  5. If you think you’d need a bit of extra scrubbing power, add a little soap to the mixture.
  6. Rinse and wipe down the bricks.
  7. Repeat as necessary.
  8. To counteract the vinegar’s acidity, combine a few tablespoons of baking soda and water in the spray bottle.
  9. Spray down the bricks.
  10. Let dry.
  11. Work from the fireplace bottom to up while scrubbing the bricks to avoid streaking.
  12. You can apply a mixture of water and baking soda to the bricks after you’re done, to cancel out the acidity of the vinegar you just sprayed on them. However, this isn’t strictly necessary.

5. Cleaning Fireplace Bricks Using Cleaning Materials

If you already own some cleaning products in your house and your fireplace bricks are too adamant about leaving, you can make your fireplace bricks all shiny and beautiful using some cleaning products. You should use them according to the cleanliness required for your fireplace bricks. 


6. Cleaning Fireplace Bricks With Dishwashing Liquid And Salt

This is one of the mildest cleaning methods and should be tried first before moving on to more harsh chemicals.

  1. Pour two tablespoons of a dishwashing liquid and one gallon of warm water with grease cutters into one bucket. 
  2. Fill another bucket with one gallon of cold water and add one cup distilled white vinegar.
  3. Make a spray bottle filled with plain water and spritz the stained areas.
  4. Dip a scrub brush into the dishwashing liquid solution and then sprinkle the brush liberally with table salt.
  5. Use some elbow grease to scrub the sooty areas.
  6. Use one sponge to wipe away the solution and loosened soot. 
  7. Dip another sponge in the water and vinegar solution and wipe down the cleaned area.
  8. If the bricks are still stained, you should repeat the steps with new cleaning solutions or move to more aggressive cleaning methods.

7. Cleaning Fireplace Bricks With Detergent 

Dish detergent is one of the quickest and easiest cleaning methods for fireplace bricks, so it should be the first method you should try if the bricks don’t look too bad. This is also relatively harmless, so this is also the best method to use on older bricks.

  1. Mix 4 cups (950 mL) of water with  1⁄2 cup (120 mL) of dish detergent in a spray bottle and shake. 
  2. Spray this mixture onto the bricks and scrub them with your differently-sized scrub brushes. 
  3. Rinse the bricks with warm water after cleaning and dry them with a clean, dry cloth.

8. Cleaning Fireplace Bricks With Dishwashing Liquid, Ammonia, And Pumice

If the dishwashing liquid and salt don’t remove the soot, rise up the cleaning game by adding one-fourth to one-half cup of household ammonia to your cleaning mixture. You can also purchase fine-ground powdered pumice instead of table salt to sprinkle on your scrubbing brush.


9. Cleaning Fireplace Bricks With Ammonia And Detergent. 

Sometimes it can take a bit of a harsher method to get your fireplace bricks clean. As ammonia is strong and potent, you need to follow some special safety measures, which are discussed briefly later. Keep the area ventilated and wear protective wearings. Do not use ammonia with old or brittle bricks.

  1. Combine 1⁄4 cup (59 mL) of dishwashing detergent, 1⁄2 cup (120 mL) of ammonia, and 4 cups (950 mL) of hot water in a spray bottle.
  2. Swirl the bottle to mix the ingredients together. 
  3. Spray this solution onto your bricks and scrub them with your bristle brush in a circular motion to clean them. 
  4. Once they’re clean, wipe them off with a damp cloth to remove the cleaning solution.
  5. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

10. Cleaning Fireplace Bricks With Tartar

  1. Combine 2 tablespoons (around 20 grams) of cream of tartar with a small amount of water to make a paste out of tartar cream.
  2. Use an old toothbrush to apply a thin layer to a sooty brick area and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. 
  3. Rinse the paste off with warm water.

11. Cleaning Fireplace Bricks With Borax

  1. In a spray bottle, combine 2 tablespoons(34 grams) of borax and a squirt of dish soap(15 mL) with 4 cups of hot water.
  2. Give it a fair shake and coat the bricks.
  3. Grab a bristle brush and use a circular motion.
  4. Use a damp, clean cloth to wipe away the grime and rinse.
  5. Repeat as necessary.
  6. You can also make this cleaning mixture in a bucket and apply it to the bricks with a sponge or paintbrush if you don’t have a spray bottle.

12. Cleaning Fireplace Bricks With Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)

Trisodium phosphate is a very powerful cleaner and removes the toughest soot stains on fireplace brick. Be 100% sure to secure yourself from the toxicity of TSP wearing full protective gear. You must check the safety concerns in the last of this article to avoid any kind of accidents. 

  1. Swirl together 1⁄8 cup (30 mL) of TSP with 1 gallon (3.8 L) of hot water in a tall bucket. Fill another bucket with plain cold water.
  2. Dip a scrub brush in the TSP solution to apply some elbow grease to the stained areas. Never allow the solution to come in contact with your skin.
  3. Use a damp and clean sponge to wipe away the cleaning solution, soot, and stain.
  4. Finish by dipping another clean sponge in plain water for a final rinse.
  5. If the soot has not still been removed, repeat the steps. You can use up to one cup of TSP per gallon of hot water if needed.
  6. Since TSP is toxic to the environment and will damage plants, contact your local municipality for proper disposal.


Tips And Tricks For Cleaning Your Fireplace Bricks



When it comes to easily and effectively clean your brick fireplace, it is nice to have a more accessible and convenient method. Unfortunately, all the creosote and soot are going to take a bit of elbow grease. However, these tips and tricks can work to lighten your load:

  • Feed the fireplace a few tablespoons of salt to remove soot and creosote before cleaning.
  • For old bricks, always try the least abrasive method and work your way up.
  • Work in small areas of the bricks at a time to prevent the brick from drying out.
  • Use a sturdy bristle brush when it comes to fireplace brick cleaning.
  • Use dawn and baking soda to clean detailed brickwork.
  • Use detergent to remove light stains.
  • Use tartar and water for spot cleaning and tough stains on relatively small areas of soot.
  • Clean newer and sturdier bricks with ammonia and detergent.
  • Use trisodium phosphate (TSP) safely on the toughest stains and grease.
  • Salt acts as a mild abrasive to loosen the soot from the brick.
  • Vinegar helps remove any soapy residue and dispel smoky odors.
  • Once the soot and debris are removed, you may discover some rust stains left from metal fireplace accessories. You need to require the use of oxalic acid to remove these stains. 


Safety Concerns When Cleaning Fireplace Bricks



  • While using ammonia, be sure that the room is well-ventilated because ammonia fumes can be powerful.
  • Always wear rubber gloves and safety goggles when working with ammonia.
  • Ammonia is strong and potent, so open all of your windows and doors within the general vicinity before using ammonia. You also might want to break out the rubber gloves and goggles, just to be safe.
  • Ensure wearing rubber gloves and safety goggles when working with ammonia.
  • Don’t use vinegar if you have bricks older than 20 years or higher.
  • TSP is highly toxic and must be used with care. Full protective gear like rubber gloves, eye protection, a respiratory mask, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants are required while working with TSP.
  • The area must be well-ventilated when you’re working with TSP. 
  • TSP can also damage ceramic tile, metal, fabrics, carpets, and painted and finished surfaces. 
  • Avoid getting the solution of TSP on your skin, your clothes, or the carpet.
  • TSP is a powerful cleaning solution, so make sure you don’t handle it without wearing rubber gloves and safety goggles.
  • You should properly dispose of TSP after using it. Don’t throw it away here and there as it may cause serious accidents.


Conclusion



To get the full amount of satisfaction from a fireplace in your house, the fireplace bricks should be cleaned properly. These handy processes that we’ve discussed in the article will definitely enable you to clean them properly. Look at your fireplace bricks right now and if you think they need a clean up, just go for it with the help of this article and enjoy a fantastic outcome. 

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