The surface of fireplace brick gets dirty from soot and dust that accumulates on its surface as the fireplace is used. Fireplace brick can be difficult to clean, especially if the owner neglected to clean it for a long period of time. The older the brick is, the more difficult it can be to clean, as well. Fireplace brick—traditionally red brick—can be many different types and each of these types may require slightly different cleaning treatments. Cleaning methods for indoor fireplaces may vary from those used on outside brick installations. In this article, we will concern ourselves with cleaning an indoor red brick fireplace installation.
Mask off all surrounding surfaces with drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect them from liquid spills or falling debris and dust.
- Use a heavy, coarse brush to break loose the dirt and soot particles. Then vacuum them up. If you clean the fireplace regularly, this may be all that is needed to clean the brick surface.
- If the soot build-up is heavy, a brush and/or a vacuum may be insufficient. You can use hot water and a brush to scrub the brick surface being careful not to use excess water. Place rolled up towels or rags on the hearth to catch the water runoff.
- If the hot water and brush still leave soot and stains on the brick surface, you can add a tablespoon of detergent or trisodiumphosphate to a gallon of hot water. Use long rubber gloves and eye protection, and scrub the brick with this solution and a coarse bristle brush. Let it stand for 3 to 5 minutes and rinse it off with hot water. Rinse the brick thoroughly and let it dry. If the brick surface is smooth, polish it with a soft, dry cloth to impart a shiny patina to the brick.
- If the above methods still fail to clean the brick thoroughly, you can use a commercial brick cleaning solution or make one of your own. To make your own brick cleaning solution mix one part muriatic acid to ten parts water. Wearing a good shop apron or coveralls, safety goggles, and rubber gloves, apply this solution to the brick surface and scrub it with a brush. Be careful with this solution because you are using a diluted acid. It will harm the finish of surrounding surfaces so take pains to protect them accordingly. Rinse the solution carefully and let the brickwork dry.
- You can also use a commercial solution. There are various solutions available like Diedrich 202, Sureclean 101, Vanatrol, Goldblatt Brick Bath, and others. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations because some commercial cleaners may not be compatible with your fireplace brick.
You can use a good quality brick sealer to apply to the brick surface after you have thoroughly cleaned your fireplace. The sealer will keep dust and soot from penetrating the brick surface and make future cleaning chores much easier. Some fireplace owners also wax their fireplaces making them that much easier to clean each year. Regular fireplace maintenance will keep your brickwork looking like new and help your fireplace to last a lifetime.