Cleaning your stone fireplace isn’t too difficult, but it is an essential part of its upkeep. It’s also much easier than it might at first seem. However, it can be a bit on the messy side. Make sure you cover the surrounding floor with a tarpaulin (if you don’t have one, a series of bin bags or sheeting covering the entire floor area would do) and wear protective clothing. Also keep children away from the area while you are cleaning.
Before you start, you’ll need the following:
A large tarpaulin to spread around the area in front of the fireplace.
Rubber gloves and a mask.
Used coffee grounds.
A hoover (or a dustpan and brush).
A heavy-duty horsehair brush.
A bucket of water and a spray container.
Household cleaning fluid (e.g. Cif) or specialised hearth cleaner – check the label of your chosen product to determine the best and safest application process.
NB: Different types of stone respond differently to different cleaning products. We’ve included a few common types in this article, but always remember to check the label of your chosen product to ensure that it is safe to use. When in doubt, always spot-test products on a very small area of the stone first. Fireplace construction varies from house to house, so some of the features mentioned here might be absent from yours.
Exactly how you clean your stone fireplace will depend on the kind of stone it is made from – the most important indicator being whether it is igneous or metamorphic (hard, glossy, impermeable stone like granite, marble, or slate), or sedimentary (porous, soft, easily scratched stone like limestone or sandstone). Find out before you start cleaning.
Cleaning a stone fireplace
If your fireplace is ordinary granite or marble, follow the steps below.
It should go without saying, but remember to extinguish the fire.
Lay down your tarpaulin around the fireplace, and put on your rubber gloves.
Carefully check the ashes/coals/logs in the grate to see if they’re still warm. If they are, wait until the fireplace is entirely cold before proceeding.
Remove any logs or coals from the grate.
If you’re using a hoover, simply suck up the loose ash and dust. If you’re using a dustpan and brush, sprinkle some used coffee grounds on the ashes before brushing them up and binning them – it helps to keep the ash from billowing up once disturbed.
Once you’re rid of the majority of the ashes and dust, use your heavy-duty brush to dust down the interior walls of the fireplace. Hoover or sweep up any remaining excess, and dispose of it.
Turning to the exterior, spray water onto any sooty or blackened areas with your spray gun, and wipe them off with a washcloth. If any stains or sooty spots are proving resistant, apply a little bit of your cleaning agent and wipe a little more vigorously.
If you have screens, grates, or other fixtures, polish them with your cleaning agent and plenty of water.
Let the whole thing air-dry.
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How to clean a limestone fireplace
Cleaning a limestone fireplace requires slightly different materials and a touch more delicacy. Limestone is a lot less durable than igneous rock or marble, and can be damaged easily by overzealous brushing. The trick is to be gentle, and to use a slightly softer brush. Follow the steps outlined above, but substitute your stiff haired brush for a softer alternative.
How to clean a sandstone fireplace
Sandstone fireplaces can be particularly hard to clean. Even light polishing can destroy the delicate surface later of sandstone, and increase its susceptibility to future damage. Do not use chemical cleaners of any kind on sandstone. They’ll remove discolouration and staining, but they will damage the stone as well.
We recommend that you brush down sandstone fireplaces with soft, gentle motions using a natural bristle brush. Horsehair is fine. If you have to deal with stubborn stains, seek specialist advice – but, otherwise, stick to plain old water.
There you have it: a clean, functional, and gleaming fireplace!