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Tips on How to Clean Fireplace Soot

Chimney Sweep and Repair
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Attempting to clean fireplace soot is difficult as it spreads easily and stains can set quickly. With care and the right cleaners, though, you will be able to remove soot and ash from the inner surfaces of your fireplace.

A fireplace is often the center piece to a living room. If used just for decoration, cleaning it will take no more care and effort than dusting any other surface in your home. If the fireplace is used, though, soot will quickly accumulate both within and outside of it.

When soot stains appear on brick or stone in your fireplace, they can be cleaned off with table salt. Feed a few tablespoons of salt into a roaring fire, then watch as the soot stains break up with the resulting smoke. Salt serves to loosen the soot as it burns, letting the soot move up the chimney flue with the rest of the smoke and exhaust gas.

For small areas still stained after this treatment or not treated beforehand, cover the soot with table salt and let it settle for about 15 minutes. Then vacuum up the salt and hopefully the soot along with it.

When cleaning large areas, be sure to cover nearby carpet, floors and furniture with newspapers and sheets. Protect yourself from soot with rubber gloves, safety goggles, and a dust mask.

When soot stains appear on your fireplace door, you can prepare a solution of ammonia, white vinegar, and water. Take a bowl and mix one-eighth of a cup of white vinegar, a quart of warm water, and a tablespoon of ammonia. Pour this solution either into a spray bottle or simply apply it to a clean cloth, then spray or wipe the solution onto the soot staining the fireplace door. Scrub the soot off and rinse the door with water. Use a clean cloth to dry the area and prevent streaks. Alternatively, a soot sponge can be used. Some are chemically treated and others are made of rubber with no abrasives or chemicals. Both can be purchased in a janitorial supply store.

Loose soot can be removed with a vacuum cleaner, broom or wire brush. To significantly cut down on clean up after a fire in the fireplace, though, a sheet of aluminum foil can be placed under the fireplace grate. This should be done before beginning the fire. When the fire is extinguished the ashes have cooled, carefully take hold of the foil and fold it so as to keep the ashes contained. Soot will likely remain, but it can be removed the above tips.

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