A Homeowner’s Guide to Cleaning the Fireplace

There are few things guaranteed to warm the heart (and the limbs) faster than a beautiful open fireplace. As a design feature, it is delightfully sophisticated and wonderfully stylish. While many of the traditional Georgian and Victorian fireplaces have now made way for more contemporary shapes and forms, Australian homeowners still love the crackle and heat of real wood fires.

With a variety of fireplace surrounds on offer, it is easier than ever to create a signature feature that stands out and makes a big impact. You must remember, however, that open fireplaces require a modest amount of routine maintenance. This is necessary not just for cleanliness and aesthetic, but also for safety. The good news is that, once you have the hang of cleaning your fireplace, it will simply become second nature.

This guide to cleaning your fireplace in the right way will help you maintain its beauty and function for as long as possible.

Step One: Wait Until the Coals Are Cool

Needless to stay, it is best to leave the coals to cool down before you attempt cleaning. If you tend to use your fireplace in the evening, wait until the morning or early afternoon. Don’t try to remove smouldering or hot coals unless you have thick, heat protective gloves.

Step Two: Remove Coals, Embers, Ash and Debris

The first thing that you need to do is take your fireplace shovel and remove all coals, embers, ash, and debris from the interior. Place them in a metal container – more fireplaces have their own bucket – and set it to one side. Carefully lift away the metal grate and the andirons. Place them somewhere where they won’t stain the carpet or furnishings (ideally, outside).

Step Three: Clean the Grate with Soap and Water

You can use a regular soap and water solution to scrub the grate. Use a wire brush, rather than a cloth, because the soot will be stubborn. Leave the grate (and the andirons, if you’ve cleaned them) to dry in the air.

Step Four: Hoover the Remaining Ash Piles

You can use a normal hoover to get rid of any leftover ash still in the fireplace interior. Once you’ve done this, take some sheets of newspaper and use them to line the bottom. It is also a good idea to place some paper or plastic on the ground in front of the fireplace so that you don’t get ash on the carpet.

Step Five: Mix the Cleaning Chemicals Together

Now, this part of the process is very important. You will be working with extremely strong chemicals, so you need to wear thick gloves and plastic safety goggles. Open all the windows and doors and make sure that pets and children are kept well clear of the room. Mix together three litres of water, five tablespoons of tri-sodium phosphate and a cup full of household bleach in a bucket.

Step Six: Start Cleaning with the Mixture

Carefully position the bucket inside the fireplace, on top of the paper. That way, you won’t drip any on the carpet and create stains. Dip the wire brush into the mixture and start scrubbing the walls to remove ash and soot. Start at the top and move downwards. You can dip as many times as you like but be careful how you move the brush; stray droplets are to be avoided.

Step Seven: Rinse the Walls with Cold Water

When you’re satisfied that the fireplace is clean, fill another bucket with cold water and wipe the walls down with a clean cloth. Remove the bucket and place it somewhere safe while you tidy up the newspaper. Retrieve the bucket and (very carefully) repeat the process along the floor of the fireplace. Once finished, throw the remaining mixture down the sink and replace the grate and andirons. Voila, you have a shiny, clean fireplace again.

Article contributed by: www.richardellisdesign.com.au/

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