A fireplace is practically a necessity in most homes in the northern and southern hemispheres. This construction allows the environment to be heated economically when the temperature drops. In addition, there are many ways to build them, making them a fabulous decorative touch in any space. However, perhaps the most commonly used structural material for fireplaces is clay brick. Not only is it a practical and elegant material, but it is also an effective heat insulator. If you own a brick fireplace, then you know how difficult it can be to clean it. Today we will teach you how to clean fireplace brick properly.
Fireplaces are enemies of cleanliness. No matter what type you install, you will not save yourself from ever having to clean up soot and ash. The problem is, when it comes to brick walls, they are more likely to cause headaches as dirt sticks to them and the mortar.
To achieve effective cleaning, you will have to resort to techniques that do not depend solely on water. Moreover, the amount of water you use has to be minimal, since the blocks absorb it easily, causing moisture problems that hinder cleaning.
Before showing you how to clean fireplace brick using home and commercial options, you will need to prepare the area to be cleaned. For this, you have to remove as much debris and ash as possible, or else they will be a nuisance.
How to clean brick fireplace from inside to outside
The difficulties of the inner zone
As we mentioned previously, before proceeding with the deep cleaning of the bricks, you should remove the larger dirt with a brush or shovel. This is because you will need to wet the fireplace, and the water combined with ash would make a mess.
Not all areas of the fireplace will be equally dirty. The hot area will be much more stained than the rest of the fireplace, and due to the action of heat, the soot may adhere strongly to the walls.
Get a stiff bristle brush that will allow you to remove these stains. Use a household cleaner, which will sit on the block for at least 10 minutes to soften the stains. It is possible that even after this, the stain will still be difficult to remove, so it is recommended to rinse the area with a little warm water.
The best homemade fireplace cleaner is undoubtedly vinegar. To use it, you must mix equal parts of vinegar and water. Due to how uncomfortable it can be to apply the mixture inside the fireplace, it is recommended that you pour the mixture into a spray bottle.
In the same way, you have to let the mixture sit for it to take effect. A similar period of 10 minutes will be more than enough. Remove all vinegar by absorbing it with a cloth or sponge, and remove any remaining dirt with a stiff bristle or nylon brush.
The external fireplace bricks are just as important
Although it sounds tedious, the cleaning job would not be complete if you also did not clean the outdoor area. For example, a fireplace brick can get dirty externally depending on the incidence of the sun and humidity on the structure. Dark areas are favorite spaces for mold and bacteria.
Due to the type of microorganisms that arise, the homemade vinegar and water solution is not as effective. In this situation, it is better to increase the force a little with the use of bleach. Just dampen a cloth in bleach and scrub it hard on the clay block.
It is recommended that you never use a wire scrub brush, but rather one made of nylon. This is because the metal can stick to the clay, causing an oxidizing effect on the block.
Different substances to achieve clear blocks
Dish soap as a homemade solution
How to clean fireplace brick depends largely on the cleaning agent used. The severity of each case will affect its effectiveness. It is good to try different mild options before reaching the more drastic and dangerous ones.
In addition, cleaning methods also change slightly depending on the substance you choose. You have to consider this even before you start cleaning.
The first economical and easy-to-apply alternative to use is a dishwasher with a bit of warm water. Soap in general acts as a soil softener, reducing the grip of agents such as soot, making it easier to remove. Dishwashing soap is especially useful for any greasy or oily item, and its composition is not particularly harmful to clay blocks.
Since the dishwasher is one of the most used substances to clean this type of surface, there is more than one way to use it.
If instead of water you mix equal parts of salt and dish soap, the substance will become more abrasive. The result will be a runny paste that you can apply with a damp cloth or towel. When you are done applying the paste, let it sit for a moment and then rinse off with warm water and a scrub brush.
Chemical combinations and a scrub brush
Another alternative is to replace the salt with Borax to achieve a disinfecting effect. It is a perfect combination that can replace bleach in the elimination of microorganisms. Due to the amount that is required to make the mixture, you can achieve a significant volume of liquid by diluting the product in water.
The recipe consists of a mixture of one tablespoon of the dishwasher, 2 tablespoons of Borax, and 4 cups of hot water. Shake well until the minerals are fully dissolved, and then add two tablespoons of the dishwasher. You can apply this household chemical with any cloth. Then, just use a scrub brush to clean the area after a time.
If all the above were not enough, there is still one more way to use dishwasher detergent. In this new case, dish soap and water will be combined with ammonia. This is a much more aggressive product than the previous ones, so it is recommended to use only when the other alternatives fail.
Using a nylon scrub brush, scrub each of the clay blocks in a circular motion with the mixture. The compound will consist of a quarter cup of the dishwasher, half a cup of ammonia, and 4 cups of hot water to dilute the result. For convenience, put the product in a spray bottle.
This mixture should remove any type of dirt, but you may need to apply it several times.
Some chemicals in spray form are specialized in cleaning clay bricks. A commercial spray bottle has a higher success rate than that of home methods, although they can be a bit more expensive.
However, they will save you the time of preparing the mixture and may serve multiple purposes, such as removing fungus and stains at the same time.
How to clean fireplace brick when all else fails
Even with ammonia and borax solutions, there are serious cases where stains and scratches do not go away.
The good news is that there are also options for these very difficult situations. One of them involves the use of trisodium phosphate, an extremely powerful and abrasive chemical. It releases toxic gases, so it must be applied using a spray bottle in areas with enough ventilation. And most importantly, using safety equipment such as rubber gloves and a mask.
TSP is practically a universal solvent. The substance is capable of staining walls and ceramic pieces, and can even damage the hardest wood and rock. Trisodium phosphate is an alternative that is advisable to use only if the clay block does not have any type of paint. The good thing about the compound is that it will completely clean the fireplace bricks.
Correct maintenance will save you trouble
Fireplaces are one of the most beautiful constructions that can be made to the home. However, you must understand that being able to keep them in that precious state requires a lot of work that can be exhausting and dangerous.
Now that you know how to clean fireplace brick properly, you can create a constant maintenance habit that cuts down on cleaning work. You won’t have to resort to harsh chemicals if you don’t let your fireplace accumulate large amounts of soot.
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