Ah, the fireplace! Is there anything that is cozier on a cold winter's night or a dark and stormy day? Fireplaces fulfill so many different rolls in the home. The fireplace can add the perfect element of romance to any room, and for many people can often be the "make or break" item on whether they buy a certain house or not. There is only one problem with a wood-burning fireplace, and that problem is that over time the smoke and soot can stain just about everything, especially your mantel. With a little bit of work, the proper materials, and a little creativity any stain can be removed. The soot stains on your mantel are no exception.
- Modeling clay. Surprisingly, this child's play toy can help remove stains from small areas of the mantel. Ideally suited to help remove light stains, all you need to do is use a light-colored clay, or preferably one that is as close to the color of the stone/brick as possible. Simply press the clay lightly against the affected areas and lift up. This will remove a vast majority, if not all, of the soot from the affected area. Only one draw back with this method though—it is only usable on small areas at a time.
- Water. As with any type of cleanup, there is always the old standby of warm soapy water and a brush. It usually takes a large amount of time and elbow grease to thoroughly remove all of the soot from an affected area using this method. If you are looking to cut down some of the time that it takes to clean, it is recommended that you utilize this method in conjunction with one of the others listed here.
- Vacuum. The vacuum can be a great tool for just about any cleaning job, and removing soot stains is no different. While you can use your home vacuum cleaner, if you have the money then your best bet is to use a shop vacuum; they are better suited to this type of work. This method is the best way to remove soot from large areas.
- Brush. For those particularly stubborn soot stains that just don't seem to want to really come out, then you should try using a stiff brush. Only use this method after you have tried removing the loose particles with one of the other methods; doing so will help prevent smearing.
- White vinegar. Vinegar often acts along the same lines as a bleach, but without a lot of the harmful side effects. You can simply pour the vinegar into a large bucket or bowl and dip a scrub brush into it. Work your way from the bottom up on the stain so you can prevent buildup in an area that you have already cleaned.
Finally, before you actually trying any of the methods listed above there is something that you must be aware of. The vast majority of mantels are made from brick and stone. Because of this, these tips are all designed with either a brick or stone mantel piece in mind. Whatever method that you use to remove the soot stains from your mantel, make sure that you have a drop cloth in place to help prevent any secondary staining from your cleaning.