Spring Cleaning your Fireplace — Part One: Removing Soot from Brick and Glass without Harsh Cleansers

Removing soot stains from the fireplace is one spring-cleaning chore no one wants to do. A bit of elbow grease is required, especially if the job’s been on the “avoid” list for a while. But you can get great results by using gentle, natural cleaners that will have the brick, glass, and tile around your fireplace gleaming.

Sooty Fireplace

Start the process by cleaning out ash from the firebox (for wood- or pellet-burners). Vacuum and dust all the surfaces as thoroughly as possible.

Cleaning Brick

Soot is difficult to clean from porous brick because the oily residue it leaves behind sticks in all the little cracks and crevasses. Don’t let ugly soot stains ruin your enjoyment of a beautiful fireplace or gas stove insert … clean it up! Before applying the cleaner, use a tarp and painter’s tape to protect fragile moldings, metal trim, and the floor.

  • Mix 2 cups washing soda and 1 cup water to make a spreadable paste. Add a little more water or a washing soda as needed for the right consistency.
  • Add the juice of one lemon
  • Use a stiff-bristled cleaning brush to scrub the washing soda mixture into the brick
  • Allow the paste to sit for approximately 10 minutes
  • Remove paste using clean water, the bristle brush, and lint-free cleaning rags

Thick soot buildup might require more than one application, but soon the brick around your wood-burning or gas fireplace will look as good as new.

Cleaning Glass

A glass fireplace door allows us to enjoy the beauty of a crackling fire while keeping the flames safely contained. If you’re having trouble viewing the fire, it might be time for a cleaning.

  • Make the same paste as for brick cleaning. Omit the lemon juice and add 1 tablespoon of grease-cutting dish soap such as Dawn.
  • Rub the paste onto a small section of glass in a circular motion with a damp cloth or thick paper towel. Use a clean area of cloth with each new section. Allow the paste to set for about 10 minutes.
  • Remove with a clean damp cloth.
  • Mix equal parts cleaning vinegar (extra-acidic vinegar) and water in a spray bottle. Use as you would a commercial glass cleaner to finish the job.
  • Apply the same methods to remove soot buildup from tile or stone surrounds.


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