Expert advice on how to clean soot from your fireplace

Expert advice on how to clean soot from your fireplace

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Expert advice on how to clean soot from your fireplace

The accumulation of creosote tar, ashes and soot blacken the bricks, walls and glass of the fireplace and makes it lose its aesthetic beauty. All these things are the natural byproducts of a burning fire and must be cleaned regularly. Nobody likes a fireplace surrounded by a black buildup of soot and creosote tar. So, what are the best ways to clean soot from the fireplace?

Why does soot build on the fireplace?

The view of the dancing flames is an integral part of the fireplace’s charm, and the homeowners particularly prefer fireplace glass doors mainly to view this exceptional sight. However, a blackened glass door can obstruct this sensational view and make the fireplace lose its charm and appeal. Soot buildup is the main cause of the glass blackening and this indicates that the fireplace fuel isn’t burning efficiently. However, why does soot build on the fireplace?

There are different reasons why soot builds up in different types of fireplaces. Most commonly, bad fuel and wrong air-to-fuel ratio are the two main causes of soot buildup. For instance, the soot buildup in natural gas fireplaces is solely because of the air/fuel ratio. In such fireplaces, the improper position of ceramic logs results in loss of efficiency and ultimately accounts for the soot buildup. On the other hand, closing in the dampers too quickly is the main reason for the soot buildup in the wood-burning fireplaces. So, there are different reasons why soot buildup in different types of fireplaces. However, all the causes are simply avoidable and there’s certainly a way to slow down if not stop the buildup of soot in the fireplace.

How to clean soot from the fireplace?

Learning the science behind the soot buildup was important but what’s more important is to know how to clean soot from the fireplace. There are multiple materials in a fireplace but the two most common elements are the brick walls and the glass door. It’s obvious both these materials have their exclusive cleaning technique and their differences must be respected. Mixing up the cleaning methods isn’t usually the best idea as it often harms the aesthetic beauty of the elements especially the aesthetically pleasing glass fireplace doors. Here, we will learn how to clean soot from the fireplace.

⮚ Cleaning soot off the brick walls

Firstly, it is essential to let the fireplace cool down before diving in for cleaning. The brick walls require at least 12 hours to cool down and it is not recommended to try cleaning when the brick walls are hot. Secondly, it is recommended to wear rubber gloves and place a cloth near the fireplace floor to protect the floor from getting dirty. There are multiple ways to clean the soot off the fireplace brick walls and baking soda, vinegar, and TSP are the three most commonly used cleaning techniques.

Using baking soda

A thick paste formed by mixing the baking soda and warm water in equal parts works great for removing soot off the brick walls. The paste is rubbed on the brick walls with hands and must be allowed to sit in for 10 to 12 minutes. Following this, the mixture must be scrubbed off with an abrasive scrub brush and warm water sponge is best to use to clean the residue.

Using vinegar

A solution of equal part white vinegar and warm water is another great alternative for cleaning the soot. It is much more aggressive than the baking soda paste and must not be used on bricks older than 20 years old. The solution is sprinkled on the brick walls with the help of a spray and is scrubbed off the walls after 10 to 12 minutes.

Using TSP

Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is the most aggressive cleaning solution of them all and this chemical must be used with safety provisions. A TSP cleaning solution is prepared by mixing eight tablespoons of TSP in one gallon of warm water and a hard-bristled brush is used to apply the mixture on the wall. Finally, a warm water sponge is used to clean the residual soot and TSP off the walls.

⮚ Cleaning soot off the fireplace glass

Cleaning the soot off the fireplace glass is relatively easier than the brick wall and commercial fireplace glass cleaners often work like a charm. Homeowners often use wood ashes to clean the glass applied with the help of moist newspaper. It is essential to clean the fireplace glass gently and not to use abrasive scrubs that may damage the delicate surface of the glass.

Clean and maintain your fireplace door to avoid soot build-up

Regular cleaning and maintenance is the only way to avoid the soot buildup and to make sure the fireplace remains shiny and sparkling like new. Knowing how to clean soot from the fireplace, you can follow some of these recommendations to avoid the buildup of soot:

1) Only use well-dried and seasoned wood logs.

2) Conduct annual inspection of chimney, flue and firebox.

3) Weekly vacuum the hearth area.

4) Never use water to extinguish the fire except in an emergency.

5) Avoid abrasive cleaners that leave a flammable residue.


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