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How to Clean Fireplace Bricks Quickly and Effectively

Jennifer L. Betts
Brick fireplace after cleaned

Cleaning your fireplace bricks and mortar can be anything but easy. However, there are a handful of effective methods out there that can get your bricks both inside and out shining like new again. Not only can you use cleaners from the store, but products that you might even have in your pantry. And if you have a particularly tough stain, get tips and tricks to remove it fast.

Removing Ash and Soot

You love your fireplace, but you've noticed lately that it is starting to look dingy. Before you even start cleaning, you'll need to get in there and get that loose soot and ash out first. Otherwise, you're going to have a mess on your hands when you start adding water. To remove loose ash and soot, you'll need a broom and a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment. It can also be good to put down an old sheet since this is going to get messy.

Chimney sweep cleaning chimney with soot vacuum
  1. Take the broom and give the bricks a good brush.
  2. Attach the brush to the vacuum cleaner and brush up all the soot.

Supplies for Cleaning Fireplaces

Once all the loose stuff is gone, you'll need to grab your materials.

Cleaning a Brick Fireplace With Dawn and Salt/Baking Soda

While not completely organic or environmental, using soap, salt or baking soda and the bristle brush is one of the simplest, safest and cheapest ways to clean fireplace bricks both inside and out. To do this, you'll simply want to follow these steps.

  1. Mix equal parts Dawn dish soap and table salt or baking soda (approximately one ounce each) with enough water to cause the mixture to blend into a cream. Be sure to not add too much water!
  2. Then, with a cloth or dish towel, cover the bricks with the aforementioned mixture.
  3. Let it soak for about 10 minutes.
  4. Use a bristle brush and scrub in a circular motion, working from the top down.
  5. Spray water on to the solution to get a bit more scrubbing action.
  6. Rinse and wipe.
  7. Repeat if you need to.

Getting Fireplace Bricks Clean With Borax

When baking soda and salt aren't cutting it, you might want to break out the borax. You aren't going to need a lot to get those bricks clean. To get this method moving, you'll follow the steps below.

  1. In a spray bottle combine 2 tablespoons of borax and a squirt of Dawn with 4 cups of hot water.
  2. Give it a good shake and coat the bricks.
  3. Grab your bristle brush and use a circular motion.
  4. Wipe away the grime and rinse.
  5. Repeat as necessary.

How to Clean a Brick Fireplace With Vinegar

When you are thinking of how to clean fireplace brick, vinegar might not be the first thing that pops into your mind. However, the acidity of the vinegar is great for breaking down the build-up on bricks. Be aware of the age of your bricks though. If you have older bricks (20 years or older), vinegar might not be your go-to method. To get started with the vinegar cleaning power, you'll:

  1. In the spray bottle, mix equal parts vinegar and water.
  2. Give the bricks on the inside of the fireplace a good soak then spray the outside.
  3. Wait for 2-5 minutes.
  4. Spray again.
  5. Scrub with the bristle brush in a circular motion, working from the outside in.
  6. If you need a bit of extra scrubbing power, add a little Dawn to the mixture.
  7. Rinse and wipe down the bricks.
  8. Repeat as necessary.
  9. To counteract the acidity of the vinegar, combine a few tablespoons of baking soda and water in the spray bottle.
  10. Spray down the bricks.
  11. Let dry.

Ammonia for Cleaning Your Fireplace

Sometimes it takes a bit of a harsher method to get your bricks inside the fireplace clean. For newer bricks, you can bust out the ammonia. Ammonia is strong and potent, so open all of your windows and doors within the general vicinity before trying this method. You also might want to break out the rubber gloves and goggles, just to be safe.

  1. In a spray bottle, mix ⅓ cup of ammonia with ¼ cup of Dawn and 4 cups of hot water.
  2. Coat the bricks in the mixture.
  3. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes.
  4. Wet your bristle brush and scrub in a circular motion.
  5. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

Since ammonia can be harsh, you do not want to use this method with old or brittle bricks.

How to Clean a Brick Fireplace With Scrubbing Bubbles

Scrubbing Bubbles weren't just made for the bathroom. They can do wonders on your bricks too! Just grab your bottle and follow these instructions.

Cleaning fireplace glass with Scrubbing Bubbles
  1. Spray the scrubbing bubbles on to the brick fireplace.
  2. Allow to sit for 15-30 minutes.
  3. Dip your scrub brush in water and scrub the bricks.
  4. Use a rag to wipe, rinse and dry.

Tips and Tricks for Cleaning Your Brick Fireplace

When it comes to easily and effectively cleaning your brick fireplace, it is nice to have a method that is just spray and go. Unfortunately, all the soot and creosote is going to take a bit of elbow grease. However, these tips and tricks can work to lighten your load.

  • Combine a few tablespoons of cream of tartar and water for spot cleaning and tough stains.
  • Feed the fire a few tablespoons of salt to remove soot and creosote before cleaning.
  • Mix Dawn and baking soda into a paste to clean detailed brickwork.
  • For old brick, always try the least abrasive method and work your way up.
  • Use a sturdy bristle brush when it comes to fireplace brick cleaning.

Keeping Your Fireplace Clean

Cleaning your fireplace brick is never fun. However, your fireplace must be cleaned thoroughly at least a couple of times a year for optimal performance and tip-top appearance. Is it time to get cleaning?

How to Clean Fireplace Bricks Quickly and Effectively