Monday, February 19, 2007

Readers Questions - Removing/Cleaning Soot from Brick Fireplace

Cleaning soot from bricks and/or brick fireplace

Joan just sent me this email:

"I have black soot, that has accumulated outside my fireplace. The fireplace is made of red/brown bricks. The soot doesn't look great to say the least. How can I clean this. Thank you." Joan/Maine

Hey Joan,

:) I know what you mean. A sooty brick fireplace isn't exactly a gorgeous sight. But, it's not too hard to clean at all, so I'll provide you a few tips to get that brick fireplace looking right as rain. Or, right as brick as it happens to be...

WARNING: There are a few wonky ingredients used in this cleaning solution. I want to provide all of you a heads up about this. For example Naphtha soap & powdered pumice are usually available in hardware stores. Naphtha soap can also be found in the laundry section of most supermarkets. If you really can't find powdered pumice, then try using sand or baking soda instead to add tha element of grittiness to this cleaning formula.

First of all, use a heavy-duty duster or vaccuum cleaner to suck up any of the loose bits of soot and dirt that have accumulated around the fireplace and on the brick itself. This will make the rest of the cleaning job a bit easier.

The rest of the tips I found on the site on how to clean fireplaces. :) I don't have a fireplace myself, and so I'm admittedly no expert on cleaning them. But I hope these expert tips help you out:

STEP 1: Create a cleaner by mixing a 4-oz. (125-g) shaved bar of naphtha soap in 1 qt. (32 fl oz/1 l) hot water in a plastic bucket until the soap is dissolved. Cool, then thoroughly mix in 1/2 lb. (250 g) powdered pumice and 1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) ammonia. Apply the naphtha solution with a small brush or paintbrush. Leave it for 1 hour.

STEP 2: Rub off with a stiff-bristle brush.

STEP 3: Rinse thoroughly.

STEP 4: Sponge on a solution of a few squirts of dishwashing liquid in a bucket of warm water.

STEP 5: Rinse clean with warm water.

I hope this helps! And as always, if any of you happy slob housecleaners have another tip to share with our reader on how to clean fireplaces, then email me at Thanks all!

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