How to Clean a Brick Fireplace

If you’re reading this guide, chances are good that you’re staring at a soot-stained fireplace and asking yourself how the heck you’re going to get it clean. The good news: we’ve got five different ways you can pick from, the bad news: it’s going to take some elbow grease.

Using Soap and Abrasives

This method involves working a paste made of soap and an abrasive (salt) into the brick, allowing it to dry and adhere to the dirt, and then removing the dry material.


Rubber gloves, a cloth, dish soap, table salt, a stiff-bristled brush, and water


  1. Mix one ounce of soap with one ounce of table salt in just enough water to make the mixture creamy.
  2. Thoroughly rub it into the brick with a cloth.
  3. Allow it to dry for at least ten minutes, then use a stiff brush to remove it.

Using Ammonia

This method works in the same way as the first, but will be harsher on your brickwork.


Rubber gloves, dish soap, pumice, ammonia, a scrub brush, and water


  1. Make a thick mixture of soap, pumice, ammonia (start with just a little), and hot water.
  2. Paint the mixture onto the brick with a brush or cloth, and let it dry.
  3. Remove the dry mixture with a wet scrub brush.

Using Naptha and Ammonia

This method uses the cleaning power of naphtha, abrasives, chemicals and muscle. Works particularly well on soot.


Rubber gloves. a bar of naphtha laundry soap, ammonia, pumice, a large pot, a stiff-bristled brush, detergent, and water


  1. Shave the naphtha bar into a large pot and add three quarts of water.
  2. Bring the mixture to a full boil and keep it there until the soap melts.
  3. Allow it to cool.
  4. Mix in one cup ammonia and one pound of pumice.
  5. Brush the mixture onto all of the sooty surfaces and let it stand for at least one hour.
  6. Scrub it off using a stiff-bristled brush.
  7. Remove any remaining material with a warm water rinse, followed by a normal cleaning with a strong detergent.

Using Tri-Sodium Phosphate

This method employs harsh chemicals and elbow grease – wear gloves and eye protection! Also be careful not to get this on your skin, carpet, furniture… well, anywhere except the fireplace brick…


Rubber gloves, eye protection, 1/2 cup tri-sodium phosphate (TSP – can be found at most hardware stores), stiff-bristled scrub brush, water.


  1. Dissolve 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) Tri-sodium Phosphate (TSP) in 1 gallon of hot water.
  2. With a stiff scrub brush, scrub the brick surfaces with the mix.
  3. Rinse with plenty of warm water.
  4. Repeat if soot or greasy stains are not removed.
  5. More TSP may be added if necessary, up to 1 cup per gallon. This is a very strong solution; avoid getting it on your skin, carpet, or fabrics.

Using Oven Cleaner

This method uses oven cleaner, which was designed specifically to remove burnt food and scorch marks from your oven.


Rubber gloves, eye protection, your favorite oven cleaner, a towel.


  1. There’s no need to preheat anything; just spray it on.
  2. Let it soak for about 3-5 minutes, or follow the time recommended for that particular cleaner.
  3. Wipe it off with a coarse towel.

How to Cover a Brick Fireplace

If you’re fireplace is scorched beyond your tolerance for cleaning, you can:


  1. Frieda406 says:

    Tried the dish soap and salt formula. Works great.

  2. Linda says:

    Using foaming bathroom cleaner and a scrub brush works quite well…

  3. Donna says:

    I used the oven cleaner. Husband used the fireplace for an hour without opening the flue, and made a total mess. Oven cleaner didn’t work a bit. I went for the hard stuff first, so I’ll try soap and salt next. I hope it works because I’m a little angry at him for making such mess, and anything that makes it better makes me a little less angry with him.

  4. Natalie says:

    Try Quick n Brite. It is non-toxic, biodegradable and natural, plus it works great! Apply the paste directly onto your fireplace (safe on any surface: brick, glass, natural stone, etc.) and work it around, then let it sit for about 10 min. (The ‘let it sit’ step saves you a ton of scrubbing!) Then, wipe it off with a damp towel. I like it because there are no fumes and it is safe, plus it works great.

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