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Winter is coming (GoT nerd alert!) and I am no Daenerys but if only I had dragon fire to prepare for the chilly winter. Okay, no more Game of Thrones reference, I swear. But if you’re anything like me, then your idea of spending winter holidays is by lighting up the fireplace and curling up on the sofa with hot cocoa.
But before you fire up that fireplace, here are some tips for its maintenance and cleaning.
Heavy cleaning should be left to professionals. Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) states that chimneys, fireplaces, and vents should be inspected and maintained at least once a year. But cleaning your fireplace regularly especially during winters increases its life and keeps soot and dirt irritants away from your home.
Gone are the days when people used only wood in their fireplaces. I’m going to let you in on the cleaning methods for all sorts of fireplaces.
Options for Cleaners
You can get either store-bought cleaners OR homemade cleaners for your fireplace.
1. Store-bought Cleaners
- You can use regular household cleaners like liquid detergent or dishwashing liquid.
- There are also cleaners made especially for cleaning fireplaces.
- Ammonia can work as a cleaner as well (but should not be used on brick facings).
- Make sure you read the instructions to see if the cleaners need to be diluted before use.
2. Homemade Cleaners
- Cream of tartar diluted with water makes a good cleaner (2 tsp cream of tartar and water makes a great cleaner for bricks but make sure you do a spot test before using it). Check out other uses of cream of tartar in a home.
- Vinegar and lukewarm water would also do the job. Read about a lot of other vinegar cleaning hacks.
- Baking soda mixed with water (for bricks) and baking soda mixed with dishwashing liquid for other types of facings.
Things You Will Need:
- Old sheets
- Old clothes
- Dishwashing liquid
- Bristle brush
- Dustbin/trash bags
- Vacuum cleaner or use this special ash vacuum.
- Glass cleaner solution
How to Clean a Fireplace
Cleaning a Wood Burning Fireplace
1. Wait for at least 12 hours after the fire is out before you start cleaning
2. Protect– Cover your furniture and floor with old sheets/tarp and find some old clothes to wear. Also, keep a garbage can or trash bag within your reach.
3. Cleaning the firebox – The firebox is where you burn the wood logs so it can get dirty quite easily through regular use.
Clean it once a week during winters. Remove the andirons and grate, scrub them outside (using dishwashing liquid and bristle brush) and let them dry. Meanwhile, use a shovel or hand broom to clear out any loose dust. Line the floor near the fireplace with newspaper to catch the debris.
4. Clean the chimney – If you haven’t used your fireplace in a while chances are birds have made the chimney their home, making it unsafe. Use a broom to clear such nests or spider webs.
5. To make sure birds don’t enter your chimney in the future, secure a top-sealing chimney damper to the chimney flue.
6. The bricks– If your fireplace has brick facing and if the bricks are old then this part can be tricky—brushing harshly can cause them to crumble.
Use a wire brush to gently remove the soot. Use a mixture of warm water and baking soda to clean off those soot stains on the bricks. Gently scrub the stains using a bristle brush.
7. Other facings– If your fireplace has other facings you can use liquid detergent and warm water solution and scrub them using a bristle brush.
8. Cleaning out creosote– Creosote is the byproduct of burning wood. It can cause a very bad odor if not cleaned on time.
If your fireplace has mild creosote, you can clean it with a solution of baking soda and warm water. For persistent stains use liquid detergent or dishwashing liquid and scrub with a bristle brush. Or you can even use this creosote remover.
9. Now take out the lined newspapers and throw them away carefully so you don’t drop any debris.
10. Put on the grate and andirons. And voila! You are all set for winter.
Cleaning Gas Fireplace
Gas fireplaces are much easier to clean compared to wood-burning ones.
1. Make sure the gas valve is turned off (I know it’s obvious but it’s necessary). Look for chipped glass or corroded logs that can play villains against your fireplace in the long run.
2. Remove logs and lava rocks from the fireplace.
3. Use the nozzle attachment of a vacuum cleaner to suck up any loose dirt from the lava rocks (vacuum each rock individually).
4. Brush up the logs with an old rag or paintbrush.
5. Clean any debris lurking inside your fireplace or near the vents.
6. Vacuum around the area to clean out the remaining dirt. Then use a cloth dampened with warm water to wipe the interior (do not use any chemicals for the interior as it can react with heat or gas afterward).
7. Cleaning the fireplace glass – Pour some fireplace glass cleaner on a clean rag and wipe put the glass. Now use a dry cloth and wipe it again.
8. Use warm water or dishwashing liquid and water to clean out the exterior depending on how much dirt it has gathered. And your fireplace is as good as new, curl up in front of it and enjoy the winter.
Cleaning an Ethanol Fireplace
An ethanol fireplace is by far the easiest one to clean but as time passes it will have some heat damages which can’t be prevented. What you can do is maintain it well and clean it regularly to increase its life.
1. Turn off the fireplace and let it cool down.
2. The soot gathered on the back of your fireplace can be cleaned using a damp cloth and should be done regularly depending on how often you use it (do it at least once a month).
3. Stainless steel– Mostly these fireplaces are made of stainless steel.
A little steel polish can go a long way in maintaining the look of your ethanol fireplace. Give the stainless steel some shine once a month.
4. Burner – Since the burner gets exposed to heat a lot it can discolor the stainless steel on the inside. To prevent discoloring make sure all residue gets cleaned ASAP.
Soak a cloth with warm water and clean the inside once in a while.
5. Here is a nifty little trick to keep the stainless steel looking new. You will need a traditional dishwashing sponge some dishwashing liquid and a little warm water (no harsh chemicals). If you do clean using this method then be gentle and clean along the grains (If you clean in the opposite direction it will look scratched.
And that’s how you clean your minimalist fireplace.
A clean fireplace not only makes your home cleaner but also makes it healthier. And I can not stress enough the importance of getting it annually checked by professionals (don’t let it become a hazard). So with that, get ready for the holidays by getting your fireplace game on point.