How to Clean Fireplace Bricks
Over time, a brick fireplace can become blackened with soot from many fires and too little cleaning. Bricks are porous and therefore some of the dirt will have sunk into the bricks and a homeowner will need a heavy duty mixture to coax the dirt out so that the fireplace will look new again.
Lots of elbow grease combined with baking soda, salt and soap should be a good starting place when cleaning a brick fireplace.
Step 1: The first thing a person will want to do when attempting to clean their brick fireplace is to put down plastic or tarps to cover their flooring and any furniture near enough that might get splashed from the vigorous scrubbing. On top of the plastic, lay down a layer of newspapers.
Step 2: Remove the screen and all tools and decorations from around the fireplace and set them aside, out of the way.
Step 3: Open all the windows in the room and the flue to make sure the room is well ventilated.
Step 4: Clean all ashes from the inside of the fireplace.
Step 5: Mix equal parts of dishwashing liquid and salt or baking soda.
Step 6: Rub this mixture into the mortar and all the cracks and crevices and on top of the discolored brick, being very generous with the mixture.
Step 7: In order for the mixture to work properly and draw out the imbedded soot, let the mixture dry for as long as possible.
Step 8: Using long, sweeping strokes, brush the mixture off, going towards the surrounding brick.
Step 9: If needed, rinse with water.
Step 10: If a previous attempt to clean the fireplace bricks were made, with an acidic cleaner, then the mixture made with baking soda would be more helpful in removing the cleaner's residue.
Sometimes a more powerful cleaner is needed to get the bricks back to their original condition. The use of trisodium phosphate or TSP cleanser mixed with water according the directions could help.
Trisodium phosphate is a very powerful chemical so precautions should be taken with its use. Wearing gloves, rubber would work well, and goggles to protect the eyes should be enough protection, but these are the minimum. TSP is an extremely caustic chemical so if it gets on the skin or in the eyes, seek medical attention immediately.
Brush the mixture on the bricks and brush with a stiff bristled brush. Allow the area to dry between applications. If the discoloration is still there, but somewhat lessened, then try again, increasing the concentration of the TSP for subsequent applications. When the bricks have returned to their normal color or they are as close as they are going to get without additional scrubbing and TSP, rinse with clear water.