Cleaning the Fireplace

by Bonnie Roberts
(last updated December 7, 2020)

Nothing brings a cozier ambiance to your home than a fire burning on the hearth. However, that cheerful little fire can make a big mess. You should clean your fireplace completely at least once a year and more frequently if you use it often.

The best time to do this is at the end of the fire-burning season or some other time when you won't be using your fireplace. Wait at least a day for the ashes to cool before you clean if the fireplace has just been used. The following method should only take an hour or two of your time, so get to it!

Here's what you'll need:

  • Tarp, plastic drop cloth, or newspapers (to protect carpeting, etc.)
  • Personal protection items, such as a mask for your nose & mouth, goggles for your eyes, rubber gloves, and old clothes
  • Stiff-bristle brush
  • Old broom and dustpan or shovel
  • Vacuum (optional)
  • Wastebasket
  • Sponge(s)
  • Bucket full of warm water
  • Foaming bathroom cleanser

The procedure to do the cleaning is as follows:

  1. Lay protective coverings over the floor around the fireplace and anything else nearby that you want to keep clean. Put on whichever personal protection items you see fit to use.
  2. Take andirons and grate outside and use the stiff-bristle brush to remove builtup soot.
  3. Remove loose ash from fireplace by scooping it up with your shovel or dustpan and deposit it in the wastebasket.
  4. Use the brush or some kind of scraper to loosen soot and creosote buildup from the walls of the fireplace.
  5. Sweep up the rest of the soot with the broom. Using a vacuum makes this task go even faster and it will pick up more of the soot. You may need to change your newspapers/drop cloth if they're really dirty after this step.
  6. Now it's time to deep-clean. Use the bucket of warm water and the sponge to dampen the areas you'd like to start with. It makes sense to start at the top and go down.
  7. Spray the dampened area with the foaming cleanser. Let it sit for about a minute. Then use the brush to scrub the area.
  8. Use the sponge to rinse the dirty foam from the area you've just cleaned, then dampen another area and repeat step 7. Continue in this manner until all fireplace walls are clean.
  9. You can either let the walls air-dry or dry them with old rags. Replace the andirons and grate. Dispose of drop cloths or newspapers.

If you have glass fireplace doors, you'll want to clean those, too. Use a spray bottle of glass cleaner and wadded-up newspaper.

Your fireplace should now be really clean. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Author Bio

Bonnie Roberts

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