Cleaning A Sandstone Surround

cleaning sandstoneThe black grime created by burning fires can be pretty difficult to remove, and that’s probably why our article on cleaning fireplace soot is so popular. It provides a generalized method to clean any mantle or hearth material, but it doesn’t go into specifics with regard to slight variations in technique for certain surfaces. Sandstone is one of the more delicate materials used in fireplace construction, so it’s not surprising that we received an email from Carol wondering how to clean it. Lucky for her, and anyone else reading this now, it is possible to thoroughly clean it without any risk to the surface, and without resorting to dangerously toxic chemicals. If you have a similar surface in your home, whether it is a surround or a counter in your kitchen, it can be safely and effectively cleaned with Quick N Brite.


I have a new sandstone fireplace surround that has some soot in a section above the opening. Although it is a gas burning fireplace, we think one of the grandchildren threw papers into it, thus creating the soot. I have read about the Quick n Brite method, but don’t know which of the products I should use——spray on liquid, or paste or ?? I am ready to give it a try so would appreciate an quick response. Thank you, Carol


We’re glad that Carol submitted this question, and we’re sure that the answer below will provide the detail necessary to complete the job. The quick answer would be yes, use Quick n Brite to achieve amazing results.  The longer answer that follows, will detail when and/or why you would chose the paste or the liquid, along with how you would apply each version to complete the cleaning process. Anyone else will be able to use the same techniques to clean counter tops, flooring, surrounds and other things made from the same material. To understand why sandstone can be a difficult material to clean, its important to understand what it is, and how it’s different from other common stones used in construction.

What Is Sandstone

Sandstone is a relatively soft stone that’s also referred to as arenit in some cases. It’s a sedimentary rock that’s composed of mostly sand, but you’ll also find similar size rocks and mineral bits mixed in. It is formed when quartzite stones erode as a result of wind and water breaking it down over a long period of time. The tiny pieces will then build up slowly in order to form a solid mass. Sandstone is mostly made up of feldspar and quartz particles. It comes in many colors, but it’s most commonly found in shades of tan, brown, pink and gray. Sandstone has been a popular building material since ancient times because it’s pretty soft, so carving it to shape is easy, even with primitive tools. Some versions are resistant to weathering, but others will require sealing in order to provide long lasting durability. Because it’s naturally porous, it can absorb stains more so than other stones, and the delicate nature can make it difficult to clean without causing harm.

How To Clean It

Although it’s pretty delicate, and incompatible with many harsh cleaners and abrasive tools, sandstone can be quite simple to clean. By choosing Quick N Brite, you can be confident that you won’t change the color, erode the surface, or contaminate the air, and because you don’t need to scrub like crazy, you can be sure that you won’t scratch or mark the surface either. It will be effective on all types of dirt and stains, but for the purpose of the directions below, we will talk about removing the black soot stain that Carol is concerned about. Because soot is one of the toughest types of grime you will ever encounter, any technique mentioned for smoke damage will certainly work with regular dirt and greasy build up too. If anything, you would just modify to a more diluted application if the dirt is not so stubborn or prone to staining.

Before you begin, you’ll want to determine the severity of the job, in order to decide which version, or technique you will use. For light staining, a completely liquid application should work fine. For really tough build up, the paste will give the best results with the least amount of effort. A combination technique is optional, but it may speed the process, improve results, and allow for fewer applications to achieve a spotless surface.


When using this version for periodic maintenance or light cleaning of new or small black stains, you’ll want to mix it up and dilute it into water. To make a heavy solution that will work perfect for this job, pour 3-6 tablespoons into a quart spray bottle, fill the rest of the way with hot water, and then shake to mix it together. Once you have your cleaner mixed, follow the steps below to clean the surface.

  1. To prepare the surface, use a vacuum, or a dry cloth to dust and/or vacuum the area in order to eliminate any loose chunks of dirt that will only compound the problem once you add liquid.
  2. Once the dry debris has been cleared away, spray on your cleaner making sure to cover the whole area.
  3. When applying the cleaner, be sure to use a liberal amount, and cover all parts of the stain.
  4. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes.
  5. After it sits, take a damp terry cloth towel, and gently blot and buff the area in order to lift the stain.
  6. The black color will lift off the sandstone, and transfer to the towel. If any remains, reapply the cleaner, and then buff again until gone.
  7. If more than two applications are required, you should have used a stronger formulation, so continue to the paste method below.


The paste offers full strength cleaning power, but it’s not any more harsh on the surface you are working with. When you use this version, you will apply it full strength using a damp terry cloth towel. Because the stain is probably tough, you’ll also let it sit longer in order to let it work. When it sits on the grime for a long period, it does not affect the material, but it does break down the organic material causing the stain, release it’s bond with the surface, and then gently float it to make it easy to wipe away.

  1. For this method, or any other, it’s important to vacuum away or wipe any loose dirt. This makes your job easier.
  2. Once the surface is ready, take a damp cloth, and then dip it into your tub of paste to collect a good amount on the towel.
  3. Use a circular motion to apply the paste to the stained area like you are waxing a car.
  4. No scrubbing is required, but use an up and down, or circular motion to cover all areas and ensure proper penetration of the grime.
  5. Once applied allow to sit for up to 50 minutes.
  6. After sitting, take another clean towel, and get it damp.
  7. Use a similar motion to remove the cleaner, and all of the loosened stain.
  8. The dark color will lift off the surface, and transfer to the towel.
  9. If more stain remains, use a second application to completely remove it.
  10. Once the cleaning is finished, lightly spray with water and wipe with a dry towel, or take another clean damp towel to buff the surface and make sure all the residual cleaner is removed.

Combo Method

Using a combination of liquid and paste can cut down on your effort, but also make the job take less time. For this technique, you will spray the area first, then apply the paste. This ensures maximum coverage and thorough penetration. It also speeds up the break down, and makes the stain lift a little bit easier. It will require you to have both versions on hand, but you can always make liquid form paste if you only have the one version. Simply melt on a low setting on the stove, or in your microwave, and then add to water as instructed above. Just be careful because it melts quickly and holds heat well. For ease of use, and thoroughness of cleaning, this technique is tough to beat. For really stubborn grime, it may also help you avoid a second application due to the increased efficiency.

  1. Prep area to remove loose dirt.
  2. Spray on liquid like in technique one.
  3. Use a damp towel to apply a good amount of paste on top.
  4. Work the cleaner in.
  5. Let it sit for 30-50 minutes.
  6. Take a clean towel and buff out the stain.


In order to protect against staining over time, it is highly recommended that you seal the sandstone surface. The material is very porous, so it can absorb liquids and other materials in order to create long lasting discoloration to make it look dirty. Not only will a proper seal prevent stains from settling in the first place, it will also make them easier to remove when they do occur. There are many different products on the market that are able to seal the surface, so consult with the manufacturer of your tile or stone in order to determine which one might be best.

For a safe and gentle cleaner that will remove nearly any stain from sandstone, Quick N Brite is a great choice. It contains no harsh chemicals or harmful abrasives, and it doesn’t even smell bad. It works by naturally breaking down the staining, and then surrounding it so it lifts off the surface easily. You run absolutely no risk to your fireplace when you clean with it, and it quickly takes out stains that other cleaners don’t work on. Because you don’t even have to scrub, you never have to worry about marks or other damage on the surface. If you’ve tried other stuff in the past that didn’t work, or if you are just wondering what works best, you will not be disappointed. It’s totally safe for use around food, children and pets, and it comes with a full money back guarantee because it works so well. For a fool proof method that has proven to eliminate tough stains, stop searching the internet, and try this amazing natural cleaner.

Please Note

If you don’t’ take our advise, it won’t hurt our feelings, but please make sure to avoid products that contain alkaline, acid, ammonia or bleach if you choose to use a cleaner you already have. Any of these substances can break down the sealant layer, and make the job more difficult. Even if you don’t choose Quick N Brite, you should select a neutral cleaner that is formulated to handle natural surfaces like sandstone.

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  1. I like that you mentioned that you might want to determine the severity of the job. I think that if I was cleaning anything then I might want to know what I am going to be handling. I think that if the job is very hard then you might want to get professional help.

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