Stone fireplaces are a sight to behold. They add a natural elegance to any living room. But good things always come with maintenance costs. These costs aren’t always in the form of money but effort too. The thing with rock fireplaces is that they accumulate a severe buildup of dust and dirt if left unclean.
The dirt buildup might go undetected until it looks filthy. And if that is the case with your fireplace, deep cleaning is your only resort. A stone fireplace is also a difficult place to clean because of its irregular shape and porousness. A simple soap water solution might not work on the porous stones.
But routine cleaning with a little time and effort can help you cost-effectively maintain your stone fireplace. You can use an all-purpose cleaner, a speciality cleaner and even something as simple as a vinegar solution. Here are all the ways of cleaning the stone fireplace.
How To Clean Stone Fireplace
Prepare The Fireplace For Cleaning
The process of cleaning an area of your house should always be exclusive. You don’t want the chemicals you are using to clean your fireplace to damage the hearth, floor and other spaces around it.
The ash and dust in the firebox and around the hearth also become a hindrance in the cleaning process. You will also need adequate protection for your body before using chemicals. Here is all the preparation you need before cleaning the fireplace.
- Plastic Tarp
- Metal Container
- Eye Protection Glasses
- Dust Mask
- Regular Water
- Small shovel about 15-30 inches long
- Drop cloths
- A vacuum cleaner with an attached brush
1. Covering the hearth with a tarp
You first need to let the fireplace cool down for at least 12 hours after extinguishing the last fire. Then cover the surrounding area with drop cloths and a tarp. It will help prevent the chemicals from seeping into the floor and hearth around. You can also use curtain towels as a substitute for the tarp. Seal the cover with duct tape.
2. Lay Drop Cloths around the tarp
Cover the area around the tarp with waste drop cloths or towels. This will prevent the cleaning solution from dripping onto the floor.
3. Put on protective gear
Wear eye protection glasses, dust masks and gloves to protect yourself from harsh chemicals. Skip this step if you’re using vinegar, but you should wear protection while using bleaches, sodium triphosphate or other strong cleaners.
4. Clean the fireplace
Use a small shovel to scrape out the ashes left in the firebox. Sweep the area with a broom and dustpan. Place it in a container filled with cold water and cover it in a safe place until you’re cleaning. You can also use the vacuum cleaner with a brush to eliminate accumulations on the stone.
Regular Fireplace Cleaning Methods
Cleaning the fireplace every week will prevent soot, dust and grit from accumulating. Leaving your fireplace dirty will reduce its efficiency and make it look quite ugly. You should clean it regularly in seasons in which you can’t go through nights without your cosy fireplace.
It will also save you from the tough deep cleaning process at least until a year. Here are a few regular cleaning methods with readily available cleaning products.
Cleaning Fireplace with Dish Soap
- Dish Soap
- Stirring stick
- Protective gear
- Small bucket
- A couple of clean rags
- Scrub brush with stiff bristles
Make a dilute solution mixing quarter cup dish soap with a quart of mildly hot water. Use the stirring stick to mix it well. The dish soap would be enough to get rid of moderate coverings of soot and dirt.
Dip the scrub brush into the solution and scrub the fireplace rigorously. Scrape out the trapped grit and dirt by scrubbing from top to bottom on the stone.
Drain out the bucket of soapy water and refill it with fresh cold water. Dip a clean rag into the bucket and wipe the remaining soap and dirt sticking on the stone. Repeat the process until it looks nice and fresh.
Dab the dry rag to soak in the moisture and let the fireplace dry in the air before using it again.
Cleaning Fireplace with an All-purpose Cleaner
- All-purpose cleaner
- Scrub brush
- Mild soap
- Small bucket
Spray an all-purpose cleaner all around the fireplace. You can choose from Mr.Cleaner disinfectant, Goo Gone cleaner or any other you already have at your home. Use a sponge to spread the cleaner around until you’ve covered the whole fireplace.
Make a dilute solution of mild soap with regular water. Use a scrub brush to scrape out the sticky dust and grit on the stone. It will take some effort, but the cosy night afterwards will surely be worth it.
Bring back the all-purpose cleaner and scrub simultaneously as your spray. Do it for a while or until it’s spotless. If you still find some dirt sticking around, use the mild soap solution again. Continue the process until the result is satisfactory. Allow it to air dry before lighting up the fire.
Cleaning with Vinegar
- Small bucket
- Cotton rag
- Scrub brush
- Soft cotton towel
Add a cup of vinegar into 1 gallon of water in a small bucket. Stir the solution well. White vinegar works best, but you can use any other type you have.
Dip a clean cotton rag into the solution and wipe the exteriors well. Start from the top to prevent the accumulation of vinegar dripping on the floor. Reach out to the nooks between the rocks and wipe them carefully.
Dampen the scrub brush with the solution and scrape out the sticky soot, dirt and grit. Use the top-to-bottom method for best results.
After scrubbing vigorously for some time, examine the fireplace for any remaining dirt particles. Scrub them again, and you can use a toothbrush to reach out to corners.
Rinse the remaining vinegar with a dampened cloth. Use the soft cotton towel and dab the areas softly to soak up the moisture. Allow it to dry before lighting the fire again.
Deep Cleaning Fireplace with Trisodium Phosphate
Have a good long stare at your fireplace. Does it look like a far cry from what a beauty it was last year? Blame yourself. Your ignorance has led to this measly state of your rock fireplace. Frequent use and lack of regular cleaning results in hard-to-remove soot forming around the fireplace.
Fortunately, it is possible to bring it back to its majestic self. You need to clean the fireplace deep now. Follow this procedure at the start of every year.
- Trisodium Phosphate powder
- Large bucket
- Respirator mask
- Protective gear
- Stirring sticks
- Five scrub brushes
- A vacuum cleaner with a hose
- Two Soft sponges
- Four clean rags
Pour a Half cup of trisodium phosphate in a gallon of hot water. Use the stirring stick to mix it well. TSP is a strong degreasing as well as a cleaning agent. It can easily remove stubborn grit, soot and tough smoke stains. Don’t forget to wear the protective gear as it is quite a strong chemical.
Dampen the scrub brush with the TSP solution and vigorously scrape off the stubborn dirt and soot buildup. This one is going to take considerable time and effort, so do it on the weekend. Reach out to the corners, nooks and crannies too.
If you still find dirt not loosening up from some spots, make a thick paste with TSP and water. Apply it with your hands on the tough spots while wearing the gloves. Scrub intently until the dirt starts loosening up.
Dip the sponge in clean cold water and wipe the areas you used TSP on. Clean it up until it looks satisfactory. Let it air dry for at least 12 hours.
Stone Fireplace Maintenance Tips
1. Avoid using flammable liquids
You should not use just any cleaner you find at your home. It has to be non-flammable at the least. Using a flammable liquid cleaner can result in permanent stains. It is also a significant fire hazard to use, such in a fireplace.
2. Use more water if streaking occurs
Water is the universal cleaning agent. Use more water in spots where you find streaks.
3. Test cleaning solutions before use
Apply the cleaning solution on a hidden spot before applying it all over your fireplace. It will help you avoid any chemical reactions that might result in fading. Let it stay for 24 hours to ensure it’s safe to use.
4. Never clean a hot fireplace
Apart from being a safety hazard, cleaning up a hot fireplace may result in permanent stains on the stone.
5. Use bleach sparingly
Bleach can fade stone, so use it only if necessary.
If you haven’t cleaned up your fireplace in a year, deep cleaning is a must to maintain its sheen. Consider calling a professional at least once a year if you don’t want to put the time and effort.