Cleaning Fireplace Soot from Brick or Stone

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Everyone enjoys a nice, roaring fire, but very few of us like the black build-up that can accumulate over time. Smoke and soot can billow out and coat your brick or stone. The mantle, the firebox and every other area can become dingy and ugly over time. Most people think this is an impossible cleaning chore due to the dark black stains and the surface they are on, but as with any job, if you have the right tools, it is easy. Follow these easy steps to ensure you always have a clean fireplace.

Fireplace Maintenance:

In order to ensure safe efficient use of your fireplace, it will need regular care and cleaning. Creosote, a flammable tar like substance, accumulates in the chimney and flue and can be hazardous if it is not removed. Give your fireplace and its accessories routine cleaning throughout the wood-burning season to eliminate an accumulation of soot, ashes, and creosote tars. Here are some easy steps to take to keep you fireplace clean longer:

    1. Burn only seasoned, well-dried wood. This will eliminate soot, smoke and creosote accumulation.
    2. Inspect the firebox, flue, and chimney annually. Check for creosote build-up or blockage.
    3. Vacuum the hearth area weekly. Make sure all the embers have been extinguished for at least 12 hours.
    4. Do not use water to drown a fire unless there is an emergency. It will make a nasty paste out of the ashes.
    5. Never use an abrasive cleanser inside the fireplace. Many contain dangerous chemicals that will leave a flammable residue.
    6. When cleaning your fireplace, sprinkle damp coffee grounds over the cooled ashes to keep down the dust.

Soot and Smoke Residue Cleaning:

Most often when people recommend solutions to clean soot and tar off brick, they will suggest a harsh chemical cleanser, something involving a wire brush, or a solution of acid. Each of these methods is either too much effort, or too dangerous to be considered a good way to clean. The following is a short list of outdated brick cleaning methods. These are common, but require special steps or significant effort. For a quick and easy method that is also chemical free, read the section that follows.

Formula 1:

Mix one ounce of soap and one ounce of table salt with enough water to make a cream. Rub mixture into brick surface with cloth; allow to dry at least ten minutes and remove with stiff brush. (the stiff brush part sounds like hard work-salt is not known for it’s cleaning ability)

Formula 2:

Make a thick mixture of soap or detergent, pumice, a little ammonia and hot water. Paint the mixture on the surface and let dry. Rub off with a wet scrub brush. You are using alkali and a mild abrasive to remove the greasy soil. (quite a mixture…again with the stiff brush)

Formula 3:

Shave a bar of naptha soap into a container and add 3 quarts of water. Bring mixture to a full boil until the soap melts. Cool. Add 1 cup ammonia and one pound of pumice. Mix thoroughly. Brush in onto all sooty surfaces and let stand one hour or more. Rub off with a stiff-bristle brush. Rinse “gook” away with warm water, then finish off with a medium to strong detergent and rinse again with warm water. (this sounds too hard to make…too many steps)

Formula 4:

Dissolve 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) or Spic & Span in one gallon of hot water. With stiff scrub brush, scrub brick surface. Rinse with plenty of warm water. Repeat if soot or greasy stain is not removed. More TSP may be added if necessary, up to 1 cup per gallon. This is a very strong solution; avoid getting on skin, carpet, or fabrics. (acid is dangerous and better left to the pros)

All of the previous methods involve using a stiff brush to scrub away the soot. Using a scrub brush and water would produce similar results because it is the elbow grease doing the cleaning. Save yourself time and effort when cleaning soot stains from brick, stone walls, carpet and more by using Quick’n Brite.

Before and After - Stone fireplace cleaning
Before and After - Stone fireplace cleaning

The Easiest Way to Remove Soot Residue:

Using Quick ‘n Brite is the easiest way to clean hundreds of things all over your home, office or vehicle, but it works great on soot, smoke stains, creosote and tar specifically. It is an enzyme cleaner, so it is designed to break apart and remove organic stains and build-up with little effort. There are no chemicals or harsh substances involved and you won’t have to drive yourself crazy scrubbing either. QnB will make quick work of any soot or tar stain on any surface. You don’t have to worry about it ruining anything you use it on and it is so safe you don’t need to wear gloves when you clean with it. Just apply the cleaner and let it do the work for you. Your fireplace will be left looking like new after you clean it with Quick’n Brite. It is safe for use on stone, brick, marble, slate and any other fireplace material. Black staining of any type caused by burning wood, can be completely removed in order to make your mantle, hearth and other areas look like new again. You can use it on any part, inside and out, and it even works on metal racks and pokers too. Since there are no harsh ingredients, you never have to worry about where you use it, and since it works so well, you will get amazing results quickly and easily.

How To Use It:

STEP 1: PREP THE AREA

Ashes, wood chunks, and other debris will only make the job harder. Removing this stuff first will reduce the time it takes, and allow you to get down to the real problem, all of that black and brown coloring that is ruining the look of your beautiful fireplace. Use a vacuum or broom to remove any loose particles from the area you are going to clean. This way you are only using Quick’n Brite to remove the stain and you are not creating a bigger mess by wetting ashes or other loose chunks. Once all of the problematic chunks have been escorted off the scene, it is time to get your cleaner ready.

STEP 2: PREP YOUR CLEANER

Prep my cleaner? Yep. With Quick n Brite, you always dilute based upon the job you are doing, so sometimes there will be prep involved if you don’t already have it ready. For this mess it will be easiest if you have a supply of full strength paste, along with a bottle of all purpose solution in a spray bottle. To make this solution, simply melt some paste on a low setting, or use the convenient liquid concentrate. You will want to dilute down 3 tablespoons into a quart spray bottle of water. This will mix to form an all purpose spray that you will use to prep the area, but you can also use for any type of regular mess all over your home.

STEP 3: DO THE CLEANING

Once you have your Quick n Brite ready, you will want to spray the whole area down with your all purpose spray. This will serve two purposes. One is to wet the area you are going to clean, and the other is to begin adding on the cleaner. Once you have done this, you are going to want to switch over to the paste, and some sort of abrasive tool for application. This can be anything you want like a scrub brush, or abrasive sponge. You may even want to use a toothbrush or something small to get into crack and/or grout lines. The tool you use will depend upon preference and the surface you are cleaning. If you have a smooth marble fireplace, you probably want to avoid the brush and go with something like our scrubbing cloth that is able to scrub surfaces without harming them.

After you have chosen your tool, you can begin to apply it. This is a pretty nasty stain to clean in most cases, so you need the paste, and you will want to apply it liberally. Take your brush, sponge or cloth and apply the cleaner sort of like you are waxing a car. Use circular motions without really scrubbing until the whole area is covered.

STEP 4: LET IT SIT

This is very important, so we give it it’s own step. For minor staining, let the cleaner sit on your brick or stone for about 10-15 minutes. For more severe looking fireplaces, you will want to wait 30 or more minutes. This gives the cleaner time to work. It will break apart the black stuff and make it easy for you to remove completely. It can be tempting to just scrub away like you do with regular cleaners, but this will only make your job harder. You will notice much of the dirtiness wanting to come off right away, but if you let it sit, you will be able to remove several layers at a time, so your job will take less time, less effort, and fewer reapplications.

STEP 5: FINISH THE JOB

Once you have let it sit, it is time to actually remove the build up from your brick or stone. If  you are cleaning an area outdoors, then this job is easy, but if you are inside you need to be a bit more careful. For outdoor cleaning, simply take your hose or a bucket of water to rinse the area and flush off all of that soot, tar and dirt. You may want to use  your brush or sponge again, just to help it along. If you are indoors, the easiest, and least mess prone way to go is using a damp terry cloth towel. Simply wet it under the tap with warm or hot water. The heat will increase the cleaning power of your quick n brite and make things a little bit easier. So, just take this towel and sort of buff the stain away. You will see, right away, that the black stuff will come off of your fireplace and transfer to the towel. The towel will get totally dirty as your brick or stone fireplace begins to look better and better. For regular cleaning, this will do the trick and make the surface look like new. For tougher build-up, or if it has been a long time, you will probably want to go over it again for best results. If there are many layers of staining and soot built up on your fireplace, it is possible that it will take 2-3 applications to get it perfectly clean.

With Quick n Brite anyone can achieve professional looking results when cleaning the brick or stone on their fireplace. You can use it on the hearth, the mantle, the screen, glass doors, surrounding walls, the carpet and more. QnB will remove smoke, soot, creosote and pitch. The pictures on the left are actual photos that are not in any way doctored. We used a SINGLE application of QnB to get these results. If we had applied it again, we could have gotten the stone even cleaner. You can notice a significant difference in color from the before to after pictures with only using it once. All areas are lighter in color, and more natural looking now that the layers of black gunk have been washed away. This particular stone has probably never been cleaned prior to this, and there was very little soot or smoke staining left on the rocks after going over it once. If we had applied the cleaner another time it would have completely removed decades of grime to  fully rejuvenate the look of each part.

Buy it for your fireplace and use it everywhere else when you are done. Quick’n Brite is the best stain fighter, tub and tile cleaner, carpet shampoo and more. It has hundreds of uses unlike other specialty cleaners. It is also 100% biodegradable and chemical-free. It is totally safe around children and pets, yet works better than virtually anything else on the market.

In case you are still undecided, Quick’n Brite comes with a full money back guarantee from the manufacturer and a 100% satisfaction guarantee from us. If you are not happy, or it doesn’t work like we say it does, you can return it for a full refund.

Still Not Convinced? Read more about cleaning the inside of a fireplace.

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33 comments or questions have been added, but if you still need more help, add your own below.
  • What kind of “Soap” do you recommend for cleaning a brick fireplace (exterior stone)?
    (0)(0)
  • Quick n Brite is perfect for this surface too. It will deep clean, but you don’t have to worry about it ruining the surface. The general rule is that if you can get it wet with water, it is safe to use Quick n Brite on it. This cleaner is extremely safe to use, and you don’t have to worry about wearing gloves, or breathing dangerous fumes. Just follow the instructions above to achieve outstanding results. Click Here to order Quick’n Brite.
    (0)(1)
  • Have several old tin toys that have been damaged by soot from a house fire. (Not burned, but covered w/a layer of soot.) Will not come off with a light scrubing w/simple green. Any suggestions are appreciated. Material is stamped tin with a lithographed design on surface.Bill
    (0)(0)
  • Bill- We would recommend Quick’n Brite for this application too. It is safe to use on any surface you can get wet with water, and is chemical-free and non-toxic so you don’t have to worry about it damaging any surfaces. Quick’n Brite has been proven to easily remove suit and smoke stains from a variety of surfaces.
    (0)(1)
  • What do you recommend for cleaning a brick fireplace (exterior brick)? This is the area right above the fireplace and below the mantle, so I don’t want to use anything that will discolor or make a stain or greasy spot. I want to use something safe that will work, but not damage my brick, because it would be very noticeable. I don’t want to ruin the looks of my fireplace.Thanks so much, Cindy Brown
    (4)(0)
  • You would use the same method as outlined above. Because Quick’n Brite is all natural and doesn’t contain harsh chemicals, you don’t have to worry about it discoloring or otherwise ruining any surface you use it on. It is totally safe for exterior brick or virtually any other surface with this type of build-up. Give it a try, and you will have great results.
    (0)(0)
  • how do I clean soot off the white painted walls?
    (0)(0)
  • Luckily, with Quick’n Brite, you can do it in much the same way. The all natural formulation is gentle on surfaces and tough on stains at the same time. It won’t ruin the wall or effect the paint. Just take a spray bottle of all purpose solution (3 tbs. in a quart of water) an spray it on the soot. Let it sit for just a bit and then take a damp microfiber cloth and wipe it clean. If the black stain is really bad then you may need to resort to the paste full strength, but in most cases, the spray and wipe method will work just fine.
    (0)(0)
  • That’s why i just hire someone to do it for me.
    (0)(0)
  • I didn't know quick'n bright worked for cleaning soot. I'll have to start recommending that to my customers. Great blog btw.
    (0)(0)
  • Have you had any success with this product in cleaning the fire box of pre-fab inserts?
    (1)(0)
    • Quick n Brite can clean nasty black build-up off virtually any surface. Certainly the fire box on your fireplace insert would be included. You would use the same procedure as above, and you will end up with the same great results. Try it for yourself and you won’t be disappointed.
      (1)(0)
  • Creosote has discoloured the outside chimney bricks over a number of years. It’s a light brick, the stains are severe and it looks very ugly. Looking for a solution please.
    (0)(0)
  • I find it very interesting that there aren’t any comments from people who have actually tried and or used the product. Sure would be nice to get some feed back from the consumer, instead of ‘promises’ from the seller.
    (0)(0)
    • Agreed. It would be nice to see some of you folks come back and tell us how well it worked. But may we point out that you also don’t see any complaints here either, and we literally approve every comment from non spammers to this page. We would also like to point out that it is much more than a promise we are offering. It is a full blown money back guarantee backed up by more than 20 years of experience with this awesome cleaner. Pretty much anyone that tries it would agree that it works great. Despite the full money back guarantee we also see a less than .05% return rate on this item. We say it works, because it does actually work.
      (0)(0)
  • Unfortunately, this did not work on cleaning smoke damage from my outdoor fireplace brick.
    (0)(0)
    • Did you let it sit? Did you use the paste full strength? These are the two most important steps. If used correctly, Quick n Brite should work very well for this kind of job. This is a tough job, so you will always want to use the paste version of Quick n Brite for the best results. Also, letting it sit is quite important too. It is the time you let it sit that most of the cleaning takes place, not the scrubbing you may or may not have to do afterward. Let the cleaner sit on a mess like this for roughly 30 minutes and it will work much better, and the black stuff should clean right up after that. If the build-up is severe, it may take more than one application to produce a perfectly clean surface. If there are multiple layers of grime, you will only be able to remove so many layers with each application. Please let us know if you need any further help getting this to work for you.
      (0)(0)
  • The bricks round our fireplace are handmade and porous. Will this stuff not just sink in?
    (0)(0)
    • Nope. It wont sink in. It is a gelatin type of paste that is more solid than liquid. You can dilute it if you want, but you can also use it as is if you are worried about your stone. If left in paste form, it should not cause you a problem.
      (0)(0)
  • I just used some 409 to clean to soot off my bricks since it’s what I had on hand. Worked fine!
    (0)(0)
  • [...] This post was mentioned on Techwench [...]
    (0)(0)
  • where do you buy quick n brite?
    (0)(0)
  • I tried Quick n Brite on my brick fireplace to remove the soot and absolutely loved it! I could not believe the results! I have tried various other products to remove soot and creosote that did an okay job but there was always a reside still left behind (and many of the products were so toxic I wasn’t wild about having them in an area where I would be lighting a fire soon!) I was recommended Quick n Brite by a friend because it is a safe product without chemicals so I didn’t have to worry about my children or pets (which I loved). I put the paste on my fireplace with a stiff brush, let it sit about 30 minutes then came back and wiped it off with a damp terry cloth towel. It was like brand new, I have not seen it that clean in 20 years and I did not have to scrub my arms off either! I have been recommending Quick n Brite to all my friends since then and everyone I have shared mine with has been very pleased as well. Great product.
    (2)(0)
    • Thanks Nicole. This almost sounds like a fake review. We didn’t pay your for this did we? Seriously though, it is always nice to hear about real life success stories. If anyone else has had results like this, we would love to hear about it.
      (0)(0)
  • A company should be highly experienced and must have cleaners that can be relied on. First, you will need to fully understand your cleaning choices so that you can choose a one that would suit your needs well, since there are a lot of them on the market to select from. We believe that organic carpet cleaning is the safest method for your home.
    (0)(0)
  • hi,after knocking a whole in my chimney breast for a wood stove i have found an old stone fire surround i am wanting to keep it as dont see the point of covering it up with anything else.The house is about 100 years old and this looks like it was put in then it is completly black i have tried wire brush and brick acid and either has shifted it,i was looking at getting someone it to shot blast it but think this would make to much mess and be quite costly,anyone any ideas ?
    (0)(0)
    • QuicknBrite will work, and it is way more gentle. It may take a bit more effort due to the age of the build-up, but it should help breathe life into that old stone. Make sure you let it sit long enough and it will break down that black layer and allow you to lift it off.
      (0)(0)
  • [...] Modern Fireplace Designs that will support you to create your dream fireplace in your dream house. by Marion Doss Ideal Way to Maintain a Fireplace Clean Fireplaces can be different sizes depending …ion Doss Ideal Way to Maintain a Fireplace [...]
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  • [...] Cleaning Fireplace Soot from Brick or Stone [...]
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