There’s nothing cozier than a warm fire in the winter, but fewer people are enjoying them than ever. Believe it or not, more than 27 million homes in the US have a wood-burning fireplace, but they are still becoming less and less common in new homes every year.

As a result, fewer homeowners know how to maintain their fireplaces. Let’s talk about the importance of maintenance and how to clean your fireplace to keep you and your loved ones safe!

Why Fireplace Cleaning Is So Important

Cleaning your fireplace is the most important step in routine maintenance, especially when it comes to fireplace safety. A dirty or clogged fireplace poses fire hazards in your chimney and home, as well as poor home air quality, and potentially carbon monoxide poisoning, which kills 430 people every year in the US.

This is because buildup can sit in different areas in your fireplace or chimney. When left to persist, it can either catch fire or block the airflow out of your home. When this happens, smoke, debris, and other harmful contaminants may enter your home instead.

How to Clean Your Fireplace

When it’s time to clean your fireplace, make sure you wear some old clothes that you don’t care about. The job can get messy.

Also, we recommend long sleeves, as touching the metal or ashes with your bare arms may cause burns. Even if you give it enough time to cool, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Metal trash can
  • Rubber or fireproof gloves (if necessary)
  • Bucket
  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Dish soap
  • Fireplace shovel
  • Hand broom
  • Dustpan
  • Paper towels or rags

If you start with these materials, you should be ready to go! Here’s how to begin.

Let It Cool

Before getting started, let your fireplace cool for 24 hours. Embers can continue burning for longer than you may think, even if there is no visible smoke. If you can’t wait that long, make sure you are wearing the proper gloves and test the ashes with a laser thermometer to avoid burns.

Empty the Ash Tray

For the record, we are giving this list in order. Emptying the ashtray below is the first step in cleaning your fireplace, but don’t worry about deep cleaning the tray just yet. Empty it out and place it back in, as it will likely catch more debris while cleaning.

Also, not all fireplaces have these trays, so don’t worry if you can’t find yours! It’s usually just below the door, likely right above the vent.

Remove Ash and Debris

In the fireplace, use your hand broom and dustpan to start sweeping up debris and toss it into your ash bin. Try to remove as much as you can before using anything wet, as you will go through paper towels or rags very quickly if you don’t get the majority out while sweeping.

Give an Initial Wipe

Before deep cleaning the inside, dunk a rag into your warm water as a sacrifice. Wipe everything down quickly to soak and don’t reuse the rag.

Use Your Cleaning Solution

Wearing your gloves, mix one gallon of warm water with one cup of bleach solution. If you have TSP on hand, add about 6 tbsp to the solution.

There are two ways to do this. If you’re using rags, we recommend mixing your cleaning solution in the bucket and soaking the rags in the solution. If you’re using paper towels, put your cleaning solution in a spray bottle.

Now is the time to deep clean the inside and outside of your fireplace. Most importantly, you want to clean the interior walls and doors thoroughly. Be careful not to put too much pressure on glass doors, as they may break.

Scrub with force at first and feel around for any spots that stand out. If something won’t come off, use your stiff-bristled brush and dip it into your cleaning solution before scrubbing away at it.

Clean Your Dampers and Chimney

Don’t forget to clean up the top inside of your fireplace. Look for any clogs or debris that might be in the way.

Also, remember not to deep-clean the bottom of your fireplace too soon, as debris may fall onto it. Remember to work your way down!

If you want to invest in a chimney brush, you should clean your chimney once every year. Otherwise, you will need to hire a professional cleaner to do it for you. Either way, it needs to be done!

Clean Your Tools

Using your cleaning solution, clean your andirons and other fireplace tools. These will go right back into your fireplace, so they should be just as clean. Also, you’ll see these ones more than the inside of your stove!

Allow Your Fireplace to Dry

Your fireplace is likely made of an alloy that uses iron, which means that it is susceptible to rust. Rust will destroy your fireplace, so make sure you leave it open to dry and feel free to have a fire or blow a fan inside to help speed up the drying process. After that, you’re all done!

Clean Your Fireplace Today

Now that you know how to clean your fireplace, remember to do this once every year to keep your home safe. Woodburning fireplaces are a great way to relax and save some money on heat in the winter, but they come with some responsibility.

Stay updated with our latest cleaning tips, and get a quote today to see how we can help you!