Many love the warm aesthetic of a fireplace, but few enjoy the labor of cleaning them. However, keeping your fireplace clean will not only make for a more efficient burn, but it will also help prevent chimney fires. And you might be surprised that the cleanup, especially when done frequently, can be quite simple!
For homes with wood-burning fireplaces, chimneys should be swept and inspected annually by a professional. Gas and electric fireplaces require less frequent professional maintenance.
No matter the type of fireplace you have, there are steps you can take to keep it clean in between periodic professional maintenance.
Tips for Cleaning a Fireplace
When it comes to cleaning a fireplace of any kind, the most important things are safety and using the appropriate products.
But not all fireplaces are cleaned the same way. Some require more frequent upkeep and the use of specialized cleaning solutions and methods.
Because of this, we recommend consulting a chimney sweep (for wood-burning fireplaces) or the manufacturer’s instructions (for gas, propane, or electric models).
For general step-by-step tips, follow this guide for keeping your fireplace clean.
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How to Clean a Wood-Burning Fireplace
A wood fireplace that hasn’t been cleaned recently can be intimidating. Soot, ash, and dirt can build up quickly on the hearth, log grate, and doors.
To thoroughly clean your wood-burning fireplace:
- Before you begin cleaning, make sure you’ve waited 24 hours after last use to ensure your fire is fully extinguished.
- Clear away any ashes and dust using a fireplace shovel or brush and dispose of them.
- Remove the grate to clean.
- Create a cleaning solution of a bowl of warm water with a few teaspoons of dishwashing soap.
- Dip a scrubbing brush into the solution and scrub the grate. Repeat until the buildup is removed, then rinse and wipe it dry.
- For the interior of the fireplace, use a dry bristle brush to remove ashes along the walls and base (put on a mask if necessary). Repeat this until the ash is cleared, then vacuum or sweep away the ash.
- Clean the inside of the fireplace using the damp brush and cleaning solution from step 5.
- Wipe down the interior and let the fireplace dry fully.
- Apply a coat of metal polish to the grate if desired and put it back in place.
How to Clean a Gas Fireplace
Cleaning a gas fireplace is much easier than a traditional, wood-burning fireplace. Usually, you’ll just have some dirt or dust buildup. However, we do recommend that you always review the manufacturer's instructions for safety precautions or cleaning methods specific to your fireplace.
To clean a gas fireplace:
- Turn the fireplace and gas valve fully off and check that the pilot light is out.
- If you want to deep clean, carefully remove the ceramic logs, remembering their position so you can put them back correctly. If you don’t feel comfortable removing the logs, move to the next step.
- Use a bristle brush to clear away dust, dirt, or soot from the logs.
- Check the logs and connections for any signs of damage.
- Use a vacuum or broom to remove the debris that you brushed off the logs, and to clear away any other dust or cobwebs inside the fireplace.
- Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe down any metal parts of the fireplace.
- Wipe down the log insert with the same cloth and reassemble them inside the fireplace if removed in step 2.
How to Clean Fireplace Glass
Don’t forget about the glass doors on your fireplace! If you haven’t cleaned them in a while, you may have quite a bit of soot or dirt buildup. You must be careful about the products and tools you use, though. Using traditional glass cleaners or harsh scrubbers could damage the surface.
Refer to the manufacturer's recommendations specific to your model before trying these tips:
- Turn off or put out the fire first and let the glass cool fully.
- Remove the doors (if possible).
- Create a 1:1 solution of vinegar and warm water.
- Put the solution in a spray bottle or dampen a microfiber. Apply the solution to the glass and scrub the surface with the cloth in circular motions.
- Wipe down the surface with a damp cloth, then dry it with a dry cloth.
- Reassemble the doors (if removed).
How to Clean Fireplace Brick
Brick is extremely porous and may be damaged by harsh chemicals. Working in small sections with gentle cleaners is key but requires some patience.
- Use a spray bottle or wet sponge to apply a layer of water to the surface of the bricks. Doing this will help prevent them from immediately soaking in the cleaning solution.
- There are a few different types of natural methods you can try based on the amount of build-up and the age of your bricks. If your bricks are less than 20 years old, start with the mildest solution of 2 cups of warm water and 2 tablespoons of mild dish detergent. If your bricks are over 20 years old, use a solution of equal parts warm water and vinegar.
- With a sponge, work from top to bottom in small sections, applying the solution to gently remove soot buildup.
- If the sponge isn’t removing the soot, try using a bristle brush in circular motions to clean the brick. Repeat as necessary.
- After the soot has been removed, use a damp cloth to wipe away any remaining solution.
- If there are any remaining stains, create and apply a paste of baking soda and water. Let the paste sit on those spots for around 10 minutes, then scrub with a bristle brush and wipe with a damp cloth.
- Repeat as necessary. For particularly dirty bricks, you may need to repeat these steps.
How Often Should You Clean Your Fireplace?
Wood-burning fireplaces that are used frequently should be cleaned monthly. The more often you clean the fireplace, the less work it will be to remove thicker layers of soot later.
Gas, propane, and electric fireplaces shouldn’t require as frequent maintenance. We recommend dusting the exterior and cleaning the glass weekly and tackling the interior surfaces every few months.
When it comes to fireplace inspections and chimney sweeping, these tasks should be done by a professional and on a schedule dependent on their type.
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Leave the Rest of the Cleaning to Us
While you focus on keeping your fireplace in tip-top shape, let the experts at your local The Cleaning Authority handle the rest of the house cleaning.
Whether you need a one-time cleaning or regular cleaning, we can help. Call (888) 658-0659 or request a free estimate online.