The fireplace is usually the heart of the home during cold winter months and lays forgotten through the summer. If you don’t clean out the fireplace at least once after the winter season is over, you will be faced with an unmanageable mess the next time you want to use it. Instead of just when you need to use it make a defined goal to tackle every year in the summer. Ideally you should clean it out every few months, even when it is not in use, just to prevent build-up.
If you’re using the fireplace shortly after it has been used, the first tip is to make sure that the burning materials and the ashes, as well as the structure itself, have cooled down. It is also important to get the right tools in place. You’ll need a sturdy pair of cleaning gloves, a vacuum cleaner with an ash attachment, a cleaning agent, a dry brush, a mop or a broom, a shovel, a wire brush, a pail with some water, cleaning solution, rags and cloths for cleaning and a dusting pan to collect the dirt in.
The first step is to get rid of all the dirt and grime that can come loose with some basic cleaning. So, you could use the vacuum cleaner to do so or even brush or sweep away the debris. If there is a lot of debris or it has settled firmly in the firebox, use a shovel to lift it out.
After you have gotten the loose particles, dust, dirt clumps and ash out, you will begin cleaning the fireplace properly. Please make sure you wear thick gloves because thin gloves might keep your hands from getting dirty or sooty but they will still leave you vulnerable to blisters and scratches.
Take out all the removable parts of the fireplace, if there are any. These fixtures, such as the grate, should be taken outside the house and cleaned separately. These are usually made of metal and can do with some polishing after they have been cleaned. Please use a cleaning agent that is specifically intended for the material in question. Any accessories and tools should be taken out and cleaned and polished at this time. These include the bellows, the coal bucket, the andirons, the log holder, the fireguards or screens and so on. Even if some of these aren’t particularly dirty, use the opportunity to get them shining.
If there are any hardened deposits and tar stuck to the damper, as well as up and down the sides of the chimney, use a wire brush to clean these areas. When you get these to come loose, vacuum them up or sweep them onto the dustpan.
For cleaning the firebox itself you could purchase a specially made cleaning product or you can use items from around the house. Make such as a solution of chlorine bleach in warm water but be careful not to mix it with any other substance, especially not ammonia or bleach because this can have a lethal chemical reaction. You could even use some washing soda or even vinegar, which is known to be a miracle cleaning solution to most spills and messes around the house!
Use a stiff bristled brush soaked in cleaning agent to scrub the firebox. Give the solution a few minutes to seep into the dirt and grime before you scrub it. This will yield much better results and you won’t have to work as hard. Once some of the solution has soaked in properly, dip your brush in more and scrub well.
After you’re satisfied, use some warm water to rinse it clean. Get rid of any solution residue and wash out the fireplace as best as you can. If you can carry it out, let it dry in the fresh air and sun.
When you aren’t using your fireplace, shut the damper and the fireplace windows to keep the airflow restricted and prevent dirt from coming in.