If you recently purchased a new-to-you home and the fireplace is a dirty, disgusting mess, then you will be pleased to learn that with the right tools and some elbow grease, you can have it looking like new once again. Not only is a dirty fireplace an eyesore in your new home, but it can also be a safety issue if the previous owners didn't maintain it properly. Once you have finished your cleaning project, then you should make sure you have the chimney cleaned by a professional chimney sweep.
Follow these time-tested tips to get your new home's chimney sparkling clean:
Tip: Remove Everything from the Fireplace and Hearth Areas
Since you will be cleaning your fireplace with chemicals that can damage iron and other materials, the first thing you should do before cleaning your fireplace is to remove the grate, andirons, and everything that is sitting on the hearth. The grate and andirons can be cleaned outside using a stiff plastic brush and some liquid dish detergent. Once you have cleaned them off, then you need to dry them with a cloth to prevent rust formation. Place a plastic drop cloth on the floor around your fireplace's hearth so the floor is not damaged in the cleaning process. If there are ashes in the fireplace, remove them and dispose of them.
Tip: Scrub Off the Dust, Dirt, and Soot from the Fireplace
Using your plastic brush, scrub the inside of the fireplace to remove any accumulated dust, dirt, and soot. Once everything has been scrubbed, then you should vacuum the entire fireplace using a shop vacuum. While you are scrubbing and vacuuming out the fireplace, you should always wear a face mask to protect your lungs from damage.
Tip: Wash the Fireplace Bricks with TSP, Bleach, and Water
Finally, the best solution that you can use to clean the brick of your fireplace is a combination of trisodium phosphate (TSP), bleach, and warm water. Follow the directions on the bottle of TSP and create your mixture in a plastic bucket. Wearing gloves to protect your hands and your dust mask, scrub down the exterior of the fireplace and then the interior firebox using your plastic brush and the cleaning solution. While you may need to scrub a little while to get the brick clean, the TSP and bleach solution will do most of the work for you. Once everything is clean, then you should wash the cleaning solution off with clear water and replace the grate and andirons.
If, upon cleaning, you find that the fireplace structure has sustained damage, contact a masonry contractor to get it repaired properly.