How to Clean a Stone Fireplace

stonefireplaces

Reba asked: How do I clean my stone fireplace? It is different sizes of stone and mortar and has never been cleaned.

If you don’t want to hire a professional chimney sweep to clean your stone fireplace, the following method should work well for the do-it-yourselfer. Keep in mind that stone is a porous material, and cleaning it may require quite a bit of physical scrubbing to reach all of those nooks and crannies!

You Will Need:

  • Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) heavy duty cleaner – available at most hardware stores.
  • Bleach
  • Warm water
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Stiff bristled brush
  • Old blankets or towels
  • Plastic tarp
  • Duct tape
  • Rubber gloves
  • Eye protection

Steps to Clean the Stone:

  1. Wear rubber gloves and eye protection at all times.
  2. Mix a solution of TSP in warm water in the bucket according to package directions. The dirtier your fireplace, the stronger you want to make your solution.
  3. Add 2-3 ounces of bleach per gallon of solution.
  4. Lay the plastic over or around the hearth to protect the underlying floor. Seal around the edges with duct tape to prevent leaks.
  5. Pile blankets and/or towels around the area to catch runs, drips, and overflow as you scrub.
  6. If the fireplace is heavily soiled, wet it down with the solution using a sponge to allow the detergent to begin working before you start to scrub.
  7. Next, attack with the scrub brush. Deep, hard scrubbing will be required on porous stone. Eye protection is very important here, as the scrubbing process will send droplets flying! You may want to keep your mouth shut as well.
  8. If stains are persistent, make a paste of water and TSP and apply directly to the stone. Scrub liberally.
  9. Finish by sponging clean water over the stone, from top to bottom, as a rinse.
  10. Once you’re satisfied with the cleanliness of the stone, allow it to air dry before removing the blankets, towels, and plastic.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Never attempt to clean a stone or brick fireplace with a flammable liquid. It will be impossible to remove it, and the residue left so close to an open flame is a serious fire hazard.
  • Bleach may fade stone, so use it carefully and sparingly.
  • If streaking occurs, you need to use more water. The cleaner spots are those which were wetter where the water ran down from higher points on the stone.
  • It’s always a good idea to test any cleaning solution in an inconspicuous spot before beginning the project.  Wait 24 hours, or at least until the test spot dries, before taking on the rest of the project.
  • Work on a cold fireplace. Do not attempt to clean a heated fireplace or one in use.
  • To avoid a bigger mess, scoop out all ash and fire debris before cleaning the face of the fireplace.

Comments

  1. Donna says:

    I removed a foam bumper from my brick fireplace hearth. How do I remove the sticky adhesive residue left behind?

  2. Sandy says:

    I have the same problem. The bumper was protection for my young children! Now I have marks from the sticky squares to hold it on. Did you ever find an answer on how to remove these? Thanks!

  3. Carmen says:

    I have a brand new cast cement fireplace (electric), and it has two dirty finger marks on it. The person that sold it to me told me to use soap and water, but that made it worse! Can anyone help me with a cleaning tip?

  4. Charlene says:

    Our stone mason did not clean the mortar off the stone and now they look cloudy. I need to clean it. The only thing I’ve heard of was muriatic acid and I’m scared of that. Can anyone help?

  5. Melanie says:

    Charlene,
    You can try using dish soap and water, and scrubbing the stone with a scrub brush.
    You can also try scrubbing the mortar with sugar water.
    Vinegar is acidic and can be used to clean mortar off of stone. Make a 1:10 mix of vinegar in water, spray the solution on the mortar and allow the vinegar water to sit for several minutes before scrubbing.

    Source: eHow – How to Remove Mortar Smears From Manufactured Stone
    Source: eHow – How to Clean Mortar Residue Off of Flagstone
    Source: eHow – How to Clean Dried Mortar from Tile

  6. Kevin says:

    Try “Goo Gone.” Haven’t tried it on stone, but it works on everything else for removing adhesive.

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