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How To Clean a Stone Fireplace

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Adopt this cleaning regimen to keep your stone fireplace gleaming all winter.

Dust and grime may go undetected due to the lighter patina of stone fireplaces compared to brick, but your fireplace still has to be cleaned on a regular basis. Microscopic pits on the surface of natural stone such as granite, limestone, or slate accumulate dirt, grime, soot, and creosote—a dark brown condensation of fare byproducts (e.g., smoke or vapor) that can cause chimney fires. The best approach to keep your fireplace looking beautiful, efficient, and safe is to remove these accumulations on a regular basis, which is a pretty simple and affordable operation. So keep reading to find out how to clean a stone fireplace (as well as deep-clean it if necessary) with items you already own.

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What you Should Know Before Cleaning Your Stone Fireplace

You may not require the services of a professional to come to your home and educate you on how to keep your fireplace in perfect condition but will require a high-quality, natural-stone cleaner that has been specifically designed for the goal of properly cleaning natural stone.

And you’ll need to understand the processes required in order to complete the task.

Let’s start with a few pre-cleaning preparations that may influence how – or how often – you clean your fireplace.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Fireplace

Although both interior and outdoor natural-stone fireplaces require the same cleaning procedures, they are subjected to various environments and may sustain different forms of damage.

An outdoor stone fireplace, for example, may be subjected to the weather, damp leaves, insects, and direct UV radiation, rendering it prone to photochemical reactions such as fading. An indoor fireplace that is used regularly during the colder months, on the other hand, may accumulate soot and debris faster.

This, of course, is dependent on your own lifestyle and use. Both types of fireplaces, however, need routine upkeep.

Sweeping your fireplace on a regular basis is a crucial first step in natural-stone upkeep.

Organic waste, in addition to soot and ash from typical use, may accumulate in outdoor fireplaces. Furthermore, all natural-stone fireplaces should be cleaned on a regular basis and wiped with a cloth if they come into touch with another substance, such as liquids, candle wax, beverage spills, and so on.

Any chemical with a pH that is not neutral may leave a lasting stain on your natural stone.

Type Of Stone

Along with knowing how to maintain a stone fireplace, it is essential to understand certain specifics regarding the sort of stone you have.

If you had a natural-stone fireplace placed in your house, you should already be familiar with the care and upkeep of the fireplace as well as the surrounding areas such as the mantle and flooring.

For an outdoor fireplace, many people choose highly durable natural stone choices such as bluestone, slate, or flagstone. Granite Gold® can assist you with the maintenance of any natural-stone fireplace, including granite, marble, sandstone, and others.

While I recommend a three-step care program for all natural-stone fireplaces, certain materials, such as quartz, may necessitate alternative cleaning methods. Granite Gold Quartz Brite® is a two-in-one product for quartz that cleans while also leaving a glossy surface, eliminating the need for a separate stone polish solution.

If you are unsure what sort of stone your fireplace is constructed of, your Stone Care Experts may assist you in identifying it and/or performing a broad visual identification. There is also the possibility of doing an acid sensitivity test on the stone, which I do not suggest because it can harm the stone and is ineffective if the stone has been recrystallized.

If you know what sort of stone you have, it’s time to assess the condition of your fireplace.

Stains and Damage

Is there any staining on the stone? What caused the stains? Is the stone damaged, such as with scratches or chips?

All of these concerns may be answered by doing a complete visual inspection of the whole fireplace and surrounding region. If the fireplace has not been cleaned on a regular basis, the potential of lasting stains and etching is significantly greater.

However, if you clean and protect your natural-stone fireplace on a regular basis, it will be more resistant to stains, spills, watermarks, fingerprints, and other contaminants.

A stone fireplace is susceptible to the same stains as a natural-stone countertop or another stone surface, but there are several more typical concerns I encounter on fireplaces:

Fire and smoke damage: The most frequent form of stain observed on fireplaces, particularly older natural-stone fireplaces. Damage from smoke and fare will seem dark and sooty.

Moisture damage: Moisture can seep through the floor, chimneys can leak, and pools can develop in or near outdoor fares, causing afflorescence. This will manifest as a crystalline salt build-up or a powdery salt deposit.

Organic stains: Organic stains, such as leaves, bark, bird droppings, insects, and others, create a pinkish-brown stain that is visible once the object has been removed from the stone.

Biological stains vary from organic stains in that they are caused by algae, mold, moss, fungi, or lichens and are more likely to occur on outdoor stones. After the biological material has been eliminated, the stain’s mark will remain.

Other potential stains include inorganic metal stains, paint stains, ink stains, water build-up, beverage spills, and etch marks, which are more common on natural-stone flooring and countertops than fireplaces.

Prepare The Fireplace For Cleaning

Use this technique to safeguard the areas around your fireplace and to pre-clean the farebox (the chamber where the fire burns) and fireplace surround before doing a routine or thorough cleaning.

STEP 1 Allow your fireplace to cool for at least 12 hours after you’ve extinguished the previous fare. Drop cloths should be placed on the floor around the fireplace, and a tarp should be placed over surrounding furniture to protect it from cleaning fluids and airborne dirt.

STEP 2 After putting on gloves and a dirt mask, step up the remaining ashes from the farebox needing a small shovel. Ashes should be placed in a metal container with a tight-fitting cover. Fill the container with ordinary cold water, close the top, and keep it outside the house, away from any flammable items, until you’re ready to dispose of it.

STEP 3 Using a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment, remove dirt from the fireplace surround from top to bottom. This will help to minimize accumulations on the stone surface and expedite cleaning.

Maintain Your Stone Fireplace

During normal use seasons, go through these procedures for cleaning a stone fireplace on a weekly basis to remove light to moderate accumulations of soot, grime, and grit that accumulate on the fireplace surrounded with each warm night by the fare.

STEP 1 Dissolve a quarter-cup of dish soap in a quart of hot but not boiling water in a small bucket. (The emulsifying ingredients in soap are all that is required to clean a fireplace that is not thickly covered in soot.) Stir with a wooden stir stick until the soap is completely dissolved.

STEP 2 After putting on gloves and a dirt mask, dip a clean scrub brush into the soap solution and scrub the fireplace surround from top to bottom to release trapped debris and grit in the stone and grout.

STEP 3 Drain the bucket of soapy water and refill it with cold water. Saturate a clean fabric in water, then wipe away soap suds and any dislodged dirt from the fireplace surround with the damp rag.

STEP 4 Dab the fireplace surround dry with a dry towel, then let it air dry fully before lighting the next fare.

Deep Clean The Stove Fireplace

Heavy or difficult-to-remove deposits of grime, soot, and stains on the fireplace surround caused by a lack of normal cleaning or continued use after routine cleaning will need the use of more strong cleaning solutions. Deep cleaning should be performed before the first fare of each season in which you want to use the fireplace (e.g., winter or fall) to remove creosote build-up in the farebox from previous burns. If you rarely or never use your fireplace, you may wait until an eighth-inch layer of buildup has formed in the farebox before deep cleaning it. To deep clean, your stone fireplace’s fireplace surround and firebox, use this process.

STEP 1 Put on safety clothing (including an old long-sleeved shirt and leggings to protect your skin from TSP) and combine a half-cup of TSP with three quarts of hot (but not scorching) water in a gallon-size bucket, stirring with a stick. TSP acts as a degreaser as well as a heavy-duty cleaner, making it more successful than soap alone in removing persistent smoke stains and creosote.

STEP 2 Remove the fireplace grate and/or andirons (rails used to support logs) from the farebox, then immerse a scrub brush in the TSP solution and gently scrub down the grate/andirons. Because of the large amount of soot that will be sloughed off the grate/andirons during cleansing,

STEP 3 Wipe off the grate/andirons with a rag to remove the TSP solution, then dry with a dry rag before returning indoors and placing them on one of the drop cloths you previously placed down to protect the floor.

STEP 4 Using a dry scrub brush, scrub the sidewalls, back wall, and floor of the farebox (from the top down on the walls and from back to front on the farebox floor) to release dirt and soot.

STEP 5 Using a hand vacuum or a vacuum hose, remove the dirt that accumulated on the farebox floor during scrubbing.

STEP 6 Soak a clean scrub brush in the TSP wash and scour the farebox from top to bottom, including the sidewalls, back wall, and floor, to remove creosote accumulation.

STEP 7 Wipe the cleaned portions of the farebox with a towel to remove the TSP solution, then dry these areas with dry rags and replace the grate/andirons.

STEP 8 Soak a clean, soft sponge in the remaining TSP solution and apply it to the whole fireplace surround, being careful to moisten both the stone and the grout. Allow the solution to sit for five minutes.

STEP 9 Scrub the fireplace surround from top to bottom needing a scrub brush to remove dirt and soot.

STEP 10 Using a clean water-dampened cloth, make one or two passes over the surround to remove the TSP solution.

STEP 11 If persistent stains remain on the fireplace surround, make a more concentrated TSP paste in a small basin by combining one ounce of TSP with one cup of water and mixing with a wooden stir stick.

STEP 12 Apply the paste in a thin layer to the problematic spot with a clean sponge, let it sit for five minutes, and then scrub with a scrub brush.

STEP 13 Wipe the stained area with a towel until the paste is gone. Dab the fireplace surround dry with a fresh rag, then allow it to air-dry fully before lighting the next fare.

More On Cleaning Outside the House

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You can also grab a copy of my cleaning planner, The Get It Clean Cleaning Planner here on the site. It’s packed full of extremely practical tips and tricks and checklists that can help you get your house clean, and keep it clean once and for all.

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