How to Remove Soot from a Smoke Damaged Fireplace


Steve asked: How can I paint over a heavily smoke damaged, brick fireplace? In our rental house, the former tenants used the fireplace, but did not open the flume. The white fireplace is black from the smoke that came out. We want to repaint it, but I’m concerned that the paint will not stick or cover the black soot. It has been cleaned, but I will clean it again. Will this be a problem to repaint? Will we need to use a primer first? What do you suggest? Thanks

Soot will wipe clean without much difficulty, particularly from a painted surface, but it can leave a residue behind. If you want to repaint over the affected area, it’s best to use a product that will remove the residue from the brick first. Whether your fireplace brick is painted or unfinished, here is a safe and effective way to do just that.

You Will Need:

  • Quick-N-Bright (check you’re local home improvement or hardware stores – or buy it online)
  • Stiff brush
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean towel
  • Drop cloth (optional)

Steps to Remove the Soot:

  1. Protect the flooring and area around the fireplace with a drop cloth. Since there will be water spraying and the paste will be scrubbed, it is likely that splashes and sprays could occur.
  2. Ensure that loose dirt and debris have been removed from your working surface. This can be done by vacuuming or wiping the surfaces with a soft cloth.
  3. Apply Quick-n-Brite paste over the stained surfaces at full strength with a wet, stiff brush.
  4. Use a slow, circular motion to work the paste into the nooks and crannies of the brick.
  5. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Fill the spray bottle with clean water and use it to rinse the bricks.
  7. Wipe clean and dry with a clean towel.
  8. Repeat as necessary.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Quick-n-Brite is safe, biodegradable and nontoxic. Because it is chemical free, it’s safe to use around children and pets.
  • Before repainting, ensure that all traces of soot and cleaner are gone and that the brick is completely dry.
  • If the brick is still dark and discolored, apply a primer before applying the white paint. For additional painting advice and directions, visit the paint department at your local hardware or home improvement stores. Paint specific stores, such as Sherwin Williams, are also able to provide guidance with proper paint types and applications.


  1. I really like your idea. I bought a townhouse that had a little fire and I want to clean it myself. Thank you!

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