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Michigan State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500135
06/24/03

Cleaning Brick Fireplaces



If the fireplace is to be used for family entertainment such as popcorn popping, or marshmallow toasting, etc., it would be wise to have brick or stone fireplace front surface sealed so as to resist absorption of grease or oils, and smoky soot.

Formulas For Cleaning Fireplace Surfaces:
(Wear rubber gloves to protect hands.) 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; or

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; or

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; or

4. Dissolve 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) Trisodium Phosphate or spic&span (TSP) in 1 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.

Note: Some weathered old brick (50 years or older) may be soft and damaged by vigorous cleaning. Test a corner, and if this is so, just dust or sweep it.

References

This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus with references from Mary Ellen Delsipee and Isabel Jones, previous Extension Specialists.

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