How to Clean Soot From a Fireplace in Hassle-Free Steps

Updated October 9, 2021
Woman cleaning out fireplace

Have you noticed your fireplace looking a little sooty? Well, then it's time to clean it. Before you run out to the store and grab the chemical cleaner, learn a few natural ways to clean soot from your fireplace. With a bit of elbow grease, you'll have your fireplace gleaming and glowing.

Materials You Need to Clean Soot From a Fireplace

Where there is fire, there is soot - and that soot needs to be cleaned out. Before you get down and dirty in fireplace cleaning mode, you need to grab a few things.

  • Hand-held broom and dustpan
  • Pillow for kneeling
  • Shop vacuum with attachments
  • Cream of Tartar
  • White vinegar
  • Dawn dish soap
  • Ammonia
  • Pumice
  • Naptha bar
  • Scrub brush
  • Spray bottle
  • TSP
  • Bleach
  • Salt
  • Towels
  • Tarp
  • Protective gear and old clothes
  • Newspaper

Remove Loose Soot From the Fireplace

You've got the tools to do the job. It's time to get down to business - cleaning business. First things first, you've got to clean up all the loose soot. If you were to just spray the cleaners in there, you'd have a soupy, nasty, sooty mess. Let the coals sit for a good day to make sure they are cool.

  1. Grab the tarp and lay it out in front of the fireplace.
  2. If you have any hot ash, use a fireplace brush and shovel to remove it.
  3. Use a shop vac or ash vacuum to remove any remaining loose soot.
  4. Take the handheld broom and brush down the sides of the fireplace, removing as much loose soot as you can.
  5. Vacuum up the fallout. You can also take a vacuum brush and brush down the sides of the brick.
  6. Repeat until all the loose soot is gone.

How to Remove Soot Stains From the Fireplace

With the loose soot out of your way, it's time to deal with the soot stains on the bricks themselves. You have a few different options for getting rid of the stains. Some take a lot of elbow grease, and others are just a waiting game. Just remember when you are dealing with harsh chemicals like ammonia and TSP, you want to make sure to wear protective gear. Additionally, it can be helpful to line the bottom of the fireplace with old newspapers while you are cleaning to sides to avoid spillage.

Cleaning the fireplace

How to Clean Fireplace Brick With Cream of Tartar

For light stains on a brick fireplace, you don't typically have to reach for heavy-duty chemicals. Instead, you can try a more natural approach. However, you need a lot of cream of tartar for a large fireplace.

  1. In a bowl, create a paste using cream of tartar and water. This will be a creamy thick paste, so you don't want to add too much water.
  2. Use an old cloth to apply the paste right to the sooty brick.
  3. Allow the paste to sit for 10 minutes. Let it sit a little longer for heavy stains.
  4. Wet a scrub brush and scrub away the mixture.
  5. Wipe it down with a damp cloth.

How to Clean a Fireplace With White Vinegar and Soap

Cream of tartar is a pretty effective cleaner for soot stains, but if you don't have any on hand, soap and white vinegar work too. This method works great for stove fireplaces and new brick. However, don't use this method on old brick; it's too acidic.

  1. In a spray bottle, mix a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water.
  2. Spray the mixture all over the stains. Give them a nice coating.
  3. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Create a mixture of Dawn and salt in a bottle. You can also substitute baking soda for salt, but salt gives you a bit more of a scrub.
  5. Pack the mixture onto the scrub brush and scrub any remaining stains.
  6. Wipe it down with a damp cloth.
  7. Add straight water to a spray bottle to rinse.
  8. Dry with a cloth.

How to Clean a Fireplace With Ammonia and Pumice

If natural methods aren't getting the results you want, then it's time to reach for the big guns. And by big guns, you need to have a few chemicals handy.

  1. Shave half of a Naptha bar.
  2. Add it to six cups of boiling water until the soap fully dissolves.
  3. After the mixture cools, add about 1 1/4 cup of pumice and ½ cup of ammonia.
  4. Mix the ingredients well.
  5. Use a cloth to apply the mixture to all the soot-stained surfaces.
  6. Allow it to sit for an hour.
  7. Use the scrub brush to scrub in circular motions.
  8. Rinse the mixture away with warm water.
  9. Use a soapy rag to wash any excess mixture away.
  10. Rinse again and dry off.

How to Remove Soot From Fireplace With TSP

Another method is to use TSP and bleach. Remember to wear protective gloves and goggles and ventilate the area well.

  1. Fill a bucket with a gallon of hot water, six tablespoons of trisodium phosphate, and a cup of bleach.
  2. Stir the mixture with a spoon.
  3. Place the bucket inside the fireplace and dip the brush inside.
  4. Scrub the walls and floor.
  5. Wipe the fireplace with damp cloths to remove the cleaning solution.

How Often to Clean Fireplace Soot

Cleaning soot from the fireplace doesn't have a hard and fast rule. If you notice buildup is taking place, then clean it. That said, if you use your fireplace a lot for heating, you'll need to clean it out a lot. If not, then you don't. However, the National Fire Protection Association does recommend cleaning your chimney at least once a year.

A Sparkling Clean Fireplace

The most important thing to do to prevent future soot stains is to adjust the flue before starting a fire. This will ensure that the smoke exits through the chimney instead of building up in the fireplace itself. You should also make sure the wood is dry before you put it in the fireplace. Wet wood tends to generate a lot more smoke. However, soot is unavoidable eventually. Now you know a few different ways to remove it from your fireplace and inserts.

How to Clean Soot From a Fireplace in Hassle-Free Steps