If your brick fireplace has been earning you reproachful glances instead of compliments it is time to get down on your knees and start cleaning. Brick Fireplaces use two types of bricks: sealed or unsealed. A wipe with soapy water is enough to smarten up the smooth surface of sealed bricks. However, if you got sold on the more “authentic” look of rough, unsealed bricks here is what should do.
Stretch your rubber gloves to cover your elbows, change out of your expensive dress, and put on protective goggles before starting to clean your fireplace. Start by blasting the dirty area with a vacuum cleaner. This will remove loose soot particles, preparing it for cleaning. Next, spray the bricks with a mild dishwasher detergent mixed with warm water. Scrub it with a nylon bristle brush, rinse with water, and finally dry with a soft cloth. To dislodge stubborn stains, allow a paste of salt and dishwasher detergent to sit for a few minutes and then scrub.
If this doesn’t work dissolve 2 tsp of borax and 1 tsp of dishwashing detergent in 4 cups of hot water. Spray, scrub, and rinse as usual. Borax is not just more potent than detergent, it is also an antifungal. If Borax doesn’t do the job, whip up an ammonia spray by dissolving half a cup of ammonia and quarter a cup of dishwashing detergent in four cups of hot water. Be sure to keep your windows open because ammonia may release pungent fumes. Also, cover your carpet or flooring because ammonia spills can discolour contact surfaces. If neither of these cleaning solutions work for your fireplace make a TSP (trisodium phosphate) spray by mixing 1/8 cup of TSP with a gallon of hot water. Professional smoke and fire cleaners use TSP to clean not just Brick Fireplaces but whole burnt down houses. It is extremely reactive so pay extra attention to have your body and the floor protected.
Cleaning fireplaces is not impossible or even tough, provided you know which chemicals to use. It is a good idea to start with the least corrosive cleaning agent, dishwashing liquid and use borax, ammonia, and finally TSP if your fireplace is still not clean. Lastly, remember to not use anything stronger than TSP (muriatic acid is one) to clean your fireplace or anything else in your house because it can be extremely dangerous. If we find another chemical that safely cleans Brick Fireplaces we will update it here.
Check back often, our new cleaning finds may be sitting in the back of your garage already!