A stone fireplace can make a living room extra cosy on cold winter nights. But a fireplace can also be a pretty filthy space if it’s not cleaned and maintained properly.
So, how do you clean a stone fireplace? Find out below.
Tips to Remember When Cleaning a Stone Fireplace
- Patch test – Before cleaning any kind of fireplace you should do a discreet patch test to see how your cleaning solution reacts with the fireplace’s stone work.
- Avoid using vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and limescale when cleaning marble. They’re either too abrasive or they’re too acidic for the marble and they’ll ruin it
- Avoid using strong chemical cleaners (unless instructed to do so) – They can damage and discolour some stone fireplaces.
- Use natural brushes like ones made from horsehair to brush fireplaces down. Stiff, wired brush can cause scratches.
- Find out what your fireplace is made from before you clean it, so you can actually maintain it effectively – Is your fireplace made from marble, slate, granite, limestone or sandstone, for example. This information is also helpful if you plan on buying a specialised cleaning product later on.
- Make sure there isn’t a fire burning in the fireplace. Your fireplace must be cold when you clean it.
- Ensure that the coals/wood in the fireplace are cold before you clean them away.
- Use covers and sheeting to catch dust and dirt as you clean.
- Use specialised cleaners that are made to suit the stone work you’re cleaning – this might speed up the cleaning process for you.
- A lot of stone fireplaces can be porous and permeable in nature, for example sandstone and limestone. So, they’re likely to absorb fluid and could crack under the pressure. Try not to saturate these materials in water/liquid products, instead clean them according to the alternative methods below.
- Wear gloves and a mask when cleaning a fireplace, it can be dusty, dirty work.
How to Clean a Stone Fireplace
What you need:
- Large sheet to protect the area around the fireplace
- Protective gear
- Soft brush
- Vacuum cleaner
- Cloths (soft)
- Washing up liquid
- Warm water
- Soft toothbrush
Steps to follow:
- Make sure the fire is out and that the coal/wood is cold before you start cleaning.
- Pop your protective sheeting down on the floor, so you don’t dirty the carpet/floor in front of the fireplace.
- Put your mask and gloves on.
- Pick up and dispose of any burnt coal/logs that are still in the fireplace and discard them appropriately.
- Brush up obvious dust and dirt with a soft brush and dustpan, or hoover the fireplace to remove debris.
- With a soft brush, start to rub down the internal walls of the fireplace to gather up more dust.
- Continue to do this until the walls look cleaner.
- Proceed to brush or hoover up the waste.
- Fill a bucket with warm water, dip a cloth into the bucket, wring it, then wipe the outside of the fireplace and the hearth with this cloth to pre-soak the areas ready for cleaning.
- In a bucket mix some warm water with some washing up liquid.
- Dip a clean soft cloth in the soapy water and wring the water out.
- Wipe the stone work in a circular motion with the damp cloth.
- Use a very soft toothbrush to tease out toughened dirt from corners.
- Repeat until the stone work is clean.
- Empty the bucket of soapy water and refill it with clean warm water.
- Dip a cloth in the fresh warm water, wring the cloth and wipe the surfaces down again so you absorb the detergent.
- Continue to do this until the fireplace looks free from soot and general dirt.
- Use a new, dry cloth to wipe the fireplace dry.
You can also buy a specialised fireplace cleaner to aid in this process. Just make sure you purchase a cleaner that suits your fireplace’s stone work.
And always follow the instructions on the bottle, and make sure there is plenty of ventilation in the room when you’re using the product.
Cleaning the metalwork
To clean any metal inserts, just remove them from the fireplace (if you can), wipe away as much dust as you can from the surface(s), and then use some hot soapy water to remove the soot off the surface(s).
When the metalwork is clean and dry, you can polish it, if you like. Otherwise, you can replace it when the rest of your fireplace is clean.
In addition to this, if you’ve got some spare time, you can clean the tools that sit by the side of your fireplace, like the brush, poker and pan set. Obviously, don’t soak the brush head, but wash the handle!
How to Dry a Stone Fireplace
You can run a dry cloth over the entire fireplace’s surface to absorb excess moisture from the stone.
Then you can leave the stone to dry naturally. It’s worth opening a few windows to get air circulating inside the room.
How to Treat Fireplace Stains
If you’ve got a couple of stains on your fireplace, usually caused by soot, you’ll need to use a product known as trisodium phosphate (TSP) to remove them.
TSP powder is widely used to clean fireplaces, but you’ve got to be careful when using this strong chemical as it can cause skin irritation and some respiratory problems.
So, always wear gloves and a mask, and open plenty of windows so lots of fresh air can get into the room.
To use TSP to take out stains on your fireplace, pop about 250g of the powder into a bucket and then add five litres of warm water to the bucket.
Add a sponge to the water, wring it out and then start dabbing the sponge onto a discreet patch of the fireplace. Wait a few minutes to see if the TSP reacts badly with the fireplace’s stone work. If all is okay you continue to use the product to treat the stains.
Keep on soaking, wringing out and dabbing the damp TSP filled sponge onto the fireplace’s stains. You can rub ever so gently on toughened stains, but keep in mind that such an action may cause damage to the surface.
When you’re done, empty and refill your bucket with fresh warm water. Then grab a fresh cloth and start wiping the TSP residue off the fireplace. Repeat this process several times, so you remove the TSP.
Tip: For extra stained areas, you can mix a small amount of TSP with warm water to create a paste. You can then spread this paste over the infected area, wait a few minutes, then remove the paste with a damp cloth.
How to Clean a Limestone Fireplace
You can follow the steps outlined above to clean a limestone fireplace. But you’ll need to use significantly less water and an extremely soft brush to complete the cleaning.
A hard brush will scratch and damage the surface of a limestone fireplace, so avoid using such a tool.
If you don’t fancy trying the above method, you could purchase an already made cleaner, like GLEAN Limestone Cleaner Spray, and use this to clean your limestone fireplace.
This particular product comes in a handy spray bottle, it’s easy to use (spray, wipe and rinse the surface), and it can clean greasy, smoky, sooty spots with ease.
How to Clean a Sandstone Fireplace
Sandstone fireplaces can get scratched and damaged really easily, plus it’s a porous material.
So, when you’re cleaning this kind of fireplace, it’s easier to empty the firebox of coal and logs, then sweep up as much dust as you can from the hearth.
After this, you can brush the inner walls of the fireplace with a very soft brush to collect more dirt.
If you really have to clean a very dirty patch, you can use the bare minimum amount of plain warm water to wipe away the grime. But no harsh chemicals should be used to clean a sandstone fireplace.
If you’re in doubt about cleaning your sandstone fireplace, it would be better to call a professional cleaner in to help you.
How to Clean a Marble Fireplace
Marble is an expensive material, so you need to be incredibly careful when cleaning it.
To start with, you’ll need to remove any old bits of coal or wood from the fireplace. Then you can collect and remove as much dust as you can from the stonework and the hearth, by wiping the surfaces with a soft cloth or a soft brush.
Once the debris has been collected, you can pour a few drops of distilled water onto a clean, soft cloth, and you can start rubbing the marble surface very carefully to remove any dirty stains.
If the marks don’t go away, you can look into buying a specialised marble cleaner to help you get the job done. Just remember to test out the specialised product before you use it properly.
Getting Professional Help to Clean a Stone Fireplace
If none of the above methods are appealing to you, or maybe you’ve got a very old fireplace at home and you don’t want to ruin it, you could always call a professional cleaner in to help you.
You can find a professional fireplace cleaner near you by doing a quick online search. It’s difficult to say how much a cleaner will cost because costs vary depending on the scope of the project.
But at least if you pick a reputable company that has glowing reviews, you can rest knowing your fireplace is in safe hands.
Professionals will also turn up at your home with specialised cleaning products and tools, so they can use the right equipment to clean your stone fireplace, which is an added bonus.
Just make sure to ask plenty of questions, try and get a good understanding of what will happen during the fireplace clean, and find out what products are going to be used.
And, it goes without saying, try and get multiple quotes for work before you agree to go with one professional.
How to Keep a Stone Fireplace Clean
A stone fireplace is going to get dirty if you use it, but you can manage this level of dirt! Here are some tips to keep your fireplace clean:
- Empty the ash away after every use.
- Regularly clean the fireplace.
- Clean the surround of the fireplace with a cloth, so it doesn’t have a chance to get too dirty.
- Treat stains as soon as you see them.
- Clean and polish the metal work to keep it glowing.
- Keep an eye on the chimney and get problems sorted out as soon as you can.
- Clean the fireplace’s tools, so they don’t end up smeared in soot.
How Often Should You Clean a Fireplace?
How often you clean a fireplace depends on how much you use it, so adjust the timing below to suit your situation.
As a general rule, if you use your fireplace frequently you should:
Empty the ash and dust out after every use. This will make the fireplace nicer on the eye. And it also means that smoke and dust won’t work their way into your home and damage your furniture.
Monthly, thorough cleans should be done during high use seasons. So, in the winter time you’ll find yourself cleaning the fireplace more often, but in the summer, you won’t use the fire much.
Chimneys should be cleaned on a yearly basis. And chimneys should also be inspected on a yearly basis. This is to make sure that there is no structural damage.
Bethan has a passion for exploring, reading, cooking and gardening! When she’s not creating culinary delights for her family, she’s concocting potions to keep her house clean!