Preparing your Fireplace for the Spring Season

After being indoors by a cozy fire for much of winter, spring is the time for cleaning the dirtiest part of your home–the fireplace and chimney. Wood fires always produce creosote, the highly flammable tar-like substance that attaches to the flue lining. Call a chimney expert to clean your flue. Spring cleaning could never be complete unless the fireplace gets a good scrubbing. The following are tips to prep and clean your fireplace for spring.

Tools to Gather for Fireplace Cleaning

Prep work is essential to get many jobs right, including spring-cleaning a wood-burning fireplace. The following are just about all the tools you should need to get your fireplace ready for spring:

  • Protective gloves, eyewear, and mask
  • Work towels or rags
  • Metal ash bucket with lid
  • Nylon brush with stiff bristles
  • Warm water
  • Large bucket and chemical cleaner: Bleach and Trisodium Phosphate, most commonly known as TSP. A heavy-duty cleaner, TSP removes sooty dirt and grease oil.
  • Spray bottle and natural cleaner: Vinegar, baking soda, and cream of tartar
  • Shop vac specifically for vacuuming ashes

Cleaning the Firebox Step-by-Step

Once you have the tools and cleaning supplies on hand, follow these steps for cleaning your fireplace:

  • Cover the floor in front of the hearth with a dropcloth.
  • Put on your protective gloves, glasses, and mask, for protection from the toxic substances in your fireplace.
  • Remove the grate / log holder or andiron, if any, from the fireplace. Place the item outside to be cleaned, as follows:
    • Spray with a hose
    • Gently scrub
    • As needed for stubborn buildup, use a non-flammable metal polish
  • Next, use a fireplace shovel to scoop out ash and place it in the ash bucket.
  • Clean out any remaining ash using the shop vacuum.

Down to the Nitty-Gritty

The really grubby part of the job comes next, as you will remove whatever is stuck to the firebox walls and the floor of the fireplace. Further going-over with the shop vac may help.

Chemical Cleaning:

  • Add 1 cup of bleach and 6 tablespoons of TSP to 1 gallon of water in your bucket.
  • Scrubbing is next. Wearing your gloves and using the nylon brush dipped in the cleaning mixture, scrub the surround, which is the outside area of the hearth that may be soot-stained. Next, scrub the firebox walls and floor until you’re satisfied.
  • Rinse the area you’ve cleaned with a wet (not dripping) cloth.
  • Pat dry with a towel.

Natural Cleaning:

If you prefer natural cleaning, be aware scrubbing will require more elbow grease.

  • Mix equal parts warm water and regular white vinegar.
  • Spray the cleaning mixture on your fireplace surround and all inside the firebox, being careful not to spray wood or anything that water could damage.
  • Let the mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Cleaning FireplaceSpray once more and then begin scrubbing with the nylon brush.
  • As necessary, repeat the process until you’re satisfied.
  • After you’ve finished scrubbing, create a mixture of baking soda dissolved in water and spray it or wipe onto the fireplace so that remaining vinegar is neutralized.
  • If you come across spots that are especially difficult to clean, mix 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar and water to make a paste. Slather the paste onto the soiled area and wait 5 to 10 minutes. Scrub using warm water and the nylon brush.

The final touch is to clean the glass on your fireplace using the method recommended by the manufacturer.

Get an Upgrade, when Cleaning Isn’t Enough

After you’ve finished cleaning your fireplace, you may decide it’s time for an upgrade, whether in style or efficiency. Yankee Doodle Stove & Fireplace Center has fireplaces at fair prices. Visit the Yankee Doodle destination showroom at 848 Danbury Road in Wilton, CT, or talk to one of our experts today at (203) 544-8111.