brick wall with black soot

How to Clean Soot Off Brick

Cleaning soot off brick can be a bit tricky. Brick is a very porous material that can absorb stains very effectively.

However, with the right approach, you can effectively remove soot and restore the brick’s appearance.

We’ve put together a list of everything you’ll need, as well as a step-by-step guide to help you remove soot from your bricks and get them looking great once again.

Note: Before you start, ensure you have proper ventilation and wear the correct protective gear, such as gloves and a mask, to avoid inhaling soot particles. Investing in some disposable coveralls may be a good idea too as this can be a messy job.

dirty black soot on brick fireplace

Materials you’ll need:

  • Broom or brush
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • A drop cloth
  • Water
  • Dishwashing detergent or mild soap
  • Stiff-bristle brush or scrub brush
  • Bucket
  • White vinegar or a commercial brick cleaner (if you intend to use a commercial brick cleaner, make sure it’s suitable for your type of brick)
  • Water hose or pressure washer (optional, if you have access to one and if you working outside)
  • Clean cloth or sponge
  • Soft-bristle brush (optional for detailing; more on this later)


Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Soot Off Bricks

cleaning fireplace with soot using broom

Step 1: Preparation

Place a drop cloth down to protect surrounding areas from the soot you’ll be removing.

Use a broom or brush to sweep away loose soot and debris from the brick surface. Then use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove any remaining loose soot from crevices and hard-to-reach areas.


Step 2: Dampen the brick

Moisten the brick surface with clean water. This step is essential because it helps prevent the brick from absorbing too much water during the cleaning process.


Step 3: Create a cleaning solution

cleaning solution for soot on brick made of warm water and washing up liquid

In a bucket, mix warm water with a small amount of mild soap or washing-up liquid. Avoid using harsh chemicals as they may damage the brick or alter its appearance.


Step 4: Scrub the brick

Dip a stiff-bristle brush into the cleaning solution and scrub the brick surface gently. Work in small sections to ensure thorough cleaning.

Pay extra attention to areas with heavy soot buildup, and be patient; this may take some time and effort.

If you need to, you can leave areas to soak in some of the cleaning solution and move on to a new area. Once you return, the soot should have softened up enough to remove it.


Step 5: Rinse with water

wash brick wall with pressure washer

Once you’ve scrubbed the entire surface, use a water hose (if you are outside) or clean water in a bucket to rinse off the cleaning solution and loosen the soot.

If you have access to a pressure washer, use it on a low setting to rinse the brick, again, if you are outside. But be cautious with this method. Using too much pressure can damage the brick.


Step 6: Tackle stubborn soot marks

If there are still stubborn soot stains on your bricks, you can try a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water. Apply it to the affected areas, let it sit for a few minutes, and then scrub again. Rinse thoroughly with water to remove any vinegar residue.


Step 7: Tackle hard-to-reach areas

hand holding toothbrush with brick wall background

Hard-to-reach areas can be tackled with smaller brushes. A stiff, bristled toothbrush will work perfectly to get into the small cracks.

You can use the mild cleaning solution from above or the white vinegar and water, depending on how heavy the soot buildup is.


Step 8: Rinse and allow to dry

Rinse the entire surface with clean water to remove any remaining cleaning solution, vinegar, or dirt. Let the brick air dry naturally.

Avoid using heat or direct sunlight for drying, as it may cause water spots. If you have a dehumidifier, you can put this in the room to help collect the moisture and speed up the process a bit.


Final Thoughts

fireplace with soot stain

Always test any new-to-you cleaning solutions or methods on a small, inconspicuous area of the brick before applying it to the entire surface. This will ensure that the cleaning process doesn’t cause any unexpected damage or discolouration.

Cleaning soot off of brick can be done, but it does take some elbow grease. Want a cleaning challenge to tackle that doesn’t require as much work? Well, explore In The Wash further.

We’ve made loads of cleaning tasks around the home easier with helpful step-by-step guides just like this one.