Now that temperatures have dropped, you’ll need to know how to clean a fireplace to ensure your home stays warm and cozy. Fireplaces are a great way to provide instant warmth to a room, create ambiance and can make an attractive focal point in your home. Plus, it’s always a delight to snuggle up in front of a crackling fire for those movie nights.
But, in order for fireplaces to perform well and be safe, they require regular and seasonal cleaning. Whether it be a gas fireplace, electric or one that burns wood, it’s important to know how to clean a fireplace to prevent the risk of a potential fire or harmful toxins. In particular, traditional fireplaces that burn wood or pre-packaged logs will produce a lot of soot, which could lead to a toxic, creosote build-up if not properly maintained.
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Learning how to clean a fireplace may seem complicated, but it’s actually quite simple. If you don’t know where to start, follow our guide on how to clean a fireplace with these easy steps.
How to clean a fireplace - gas or electric
A soft paintbrush or brush
Metal ash trowel and metal bucket
Fireplace glass cleaner
Protective gloves and eyewear
1. First, turn off the gas or electric power switch before you start cleaning. For a gas fireplace, locate the gas valve inside and make sure it’s on the ‘off’ position, to prevent a dangerous leak in the home. Then, wait some minutes to allow the fireplace to cool down.
2. Next, remove the gas logs and lava rocks and place on an old towel outside or in a suitable area to clean. With a soft paintbrush, gently brush off any dirt or debris.
3. Clean the inside of your fireplace with a vacuum cleaner, using a brush attachment. This will remove any dustballs, cobwebs or any other debris lurking inside.
4. Remove or open the glass covering to clean the fireplace glass with a fireplace glass cleaner. Spray onto a dry cloth or towel and rub the glass in circular movements. This will get rid of any build-up of dirt or grime on the glass. Try not to use an abrasive cleaner that will scratch the surface.
5. Next up, thoroughly wipe the inside edges and exterior of your fireplace with a soft cloth dipped in warm, soapy water. Be sure to continuously rinse out the cloth in warm water each time to get rid of the soot or dirt that has accumulated and wipe dry with paper towels.
Always use water when cleaning the inside of your fireplace, as harsh chemicals from cleaning products can react to the heat inside a fireplace.
6. If you have any metal andirons or accessories, clean with dish soap and water, and follow with a metal polish. This will give it that extra shine and restore it back to looking brand new.
7. Allow time for your fireplace to dry completely before placing your logs and stones back inside.
How to clean a wood burning fireplace
1. Extinguish any fires and wait for the fireplace to completely cool before emptying out the ash.
2. Next, lay down a dust sheet or old towels to protect the floor from spilled soot or dusty ash.
3. Wearing gloves and protective eyewear, use a small trowel to empty ash into a metal ash container or bucket. Leave the bucket outdoors and wait 24 hours before disposing it in your garden (your vegetables will love the ash). Remember to never use a plastic container to store ash and do not store the ash bucket indoors. This can cause a build-up of carbon monoxide that can spread and affect the household.
4. Then, clean the glass door of your burner with a stove glass cleaner to remove charcoal dust. Wipe it down with a damp towel until clean, and dry with paper towels.
5. Finally, clean the exterior of your fireplace by using a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment. This will remove any loose traces of soot or ash. Wipe down with a dry cloth as a damp cloth can cause rust on your fireplace over time.
For wood burning fireplaces, it’s always advisable to install a fire alarm and carbon monoxide alarm to keep your family and home safe.
How often should I clean my fireplace?
It’s recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), all fireplace chimneys should be cleaned at least once every year. For this, you'll need to call in a chimney sweep service to clean the flue; otherwise, debris could build up inside and cause a fire.
Gas fireplaces should be inspected annually by a qualified professional to ensure there are no harmful leaks and that it’s functioning as it should.