Ho to clean a fireplace

We all know winter is coming when the nights get longer and those comfy blankets make their reappearance. You know what that means: It’s nearly time to fire up your fireplace! Before you stack the logs and strike a match or crank up the gas, though, there are some important maintenance and safety measures to keep in mind. If you don’t know how to clean a fireplace, read on to learn why and how you should get rid of debris and soot before cozying up in the winter.

For starters, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) states that chimneys, fireplaces, and vents should be inspected and maintained at least once a year. If you can’t remember the last time your chimney was cleaned, you’re probably overdue. And while you may think cleaning your fireplace is a daunting task reserved solely for professionals, doing the job yourself will prevent someone from sweeping your wallet clean.

How to Clean a Wood-burning Fireplaces

Avoid Messes

Cover nearby furniture and carpet with old sheets, and make sure you wear old clothes and gloves, and keep a trash can lined with two bags nearby to dispose of the waste. You don’t want to have to do a ton of laundry, mopping, and sweeping once the chimney cleaning is done!

Clear Debris

If you don’t use your fireplace frequently, remember that birds may build nests in the flue, making the chimney unsafe. When you’re learning how to clean a fireplace, the first thing to do is remove bird nests from your flue

Besides creating obstructions, nests can often be infested with mites and other unsavory things you don’t want in your home. Experts recommend going up on the roof or using a broomstick to remove the nests. To keep animals or birds out of your chimney, secure a top-sealing chimney damper to the chimney flue.

Clean the Firebox

The firebox is the area where the logs in your fireplace burn. When you’re using your fireplace, try to clean the firebox once a week. Remove the andirons and grate and take them outdoors to be scrubbed and set aside, then remove loose ashes with a fireplace shovel and place them in the trash can. Sweep up the loose dust and line the fireplace with newspapers to catch the brick and flue debris.

Clean the Bricks

The secret to cleaning fireplace brick is to saturate the bricks with water first. Lay down a plastic sheet and spray the brick with plain water. Let the porous surface of the brick soak in the water for about 10 minutes, then start cleaning. We recommend using a wire brush and scraper to loosen the soot. 

Clean off soot-stained bricks with a mixture of warm water and baking soda by gently scrubbing the stains with a stiff-bristled brush. Once you’ve scrubbed an area of about five bricks by five bricks, rinse it with a sponge and bucket of water before moving on to the next area. When your rinsing bucket becomes dirty, change the water.

Clear Out Creosote

Creosote deposits are a natural byproduct of wood burning in your fireplace. If not thoroughly cleaned, a strong odor can emit from your fireplace come springtime when the humidity is higher and the air conditioner is turned on. To clean mild creosote buildup in your fireplace and flue, use a paste made from baking soda and warm water. Dishwashing liquid can also be very effective when tackling stubborn substances.

How to Clean a Gas Fireplaces

While it’s true that gas fireplaces burn cleaner, that doesn’t mean you can skip giving them an annual scrub. Here are things to remember when you clean your gas burner and logs:

Turn Off the Valve

First and foremost, make sure the gas is off. It’s an obvious step, but worth the doublecheck. Wait a few minutes after the pilot light goes out before beginning to allow all of the gas to leave the area safely. If the fireplace has been used recently, be sure that everything is cool before cleaning.

Disassemble the Fireplace

If you have glass doors, metal screens, or a mesh curtain, remove them for easier cleaning. Remove glass doors and screens, disassemble the logs, and remove the burner unit. Take the components outside for cleaning to prevent spreading dust and soot. If you have a metal screen or mesh curtain, use the vacuum upholstery brush to clean both sides to remove dust.

Never use a regular window glass cleaner—instead, use distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the vinegar on the glass and frame and let it sit for 10 minutes before using a soft cloth to remove dirt and residue. Inspect the rubber gaskets on glass doors for any damage and replace them if needed. 

Blast Dust

Because gas logs also use electronics, never spray liquids like water or cleaner near them. Use a soft paintbrush to remove dust and dirt on the logs and other components. Inspect each log and other components for damage. Finish up with compressed air and blow out all the orifices. To get rid of hard-to-reach dust and dirt, be sure to vacuum around the entire firebox, especially behind your gas logs. 

A clean fireplace isn’t just a beautiful thing; it’s also healthier! The less grime and old ash, the better for your health. On top of that, you can’t beat the peace of mind of a good, solid clean. From when to what, here are some important do’s and don’ts for cleaning your fireplace safely and effectively.  

Fireplace Cleaning Do’s & Don’ts

When to clean a fireplace

DON’T do a complete down and dirty clean until you are finished using the fireplace for the year. Wait at least 12-24 hours after your last use before you begin the full cleaning.

DO keep up with weekly cleanings by clearing out the grate of ashes and debris and sweeping around the hearth regularly.

Sweeping ashes from a fireplace

DON’T sweep up ashes and wood chunks that have recently been burned, and then try to make it from the fireplace to the door before ashes fly all over the house. This is extremely dangerous.

DO wait a day for ashes to cool before sweeping them together in the grate. Sprinkle damp coffee grounds over the ashes to prevent them from flying everywhere as you transport them outside. You can vacuum up the leftover ashes from the firebox and hearth for a more complete clean.

Cleaning soot from a fireplace

DON’T use harsh abrasives or flammable chemicals to clean anything in or around the fireplace. This includes the firebox, glass windows, the hearth, and even the fireplace tools.

DO use oven cleaner and a stiff scrub brush.

Spot testing fireplace brick

DON’T use a cleaning method you’ve never used before without testing it first.

DO a test clean on a small spot on the edge of your bricks and watch for discoloration or damage.

Now that you know how to clean a fireplace the right way, check out our extensive library of professional tips and tricks for cleaning all over the house. And when you need a hand with the housework, try one of our popular residential cleaning services. Learn how you can have a cleaner home more often when you get your free online estimate today.

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