How-To Videos

How to Clean Soot and Smoke on a Fireplace Surround

By: Danny Lipford
Black stains from soot and smoke on a wood burning fireplace surround.

Black stains from soot and smoke on a wood burning fireplace surround.

Stains from soot and smoke are a common problem on the surround around a wood burning fireplace. To remove black stains around a fireplace, use a strong degreaser, such as trisodium phosphate (TSP), which is available at home centers and hardware stores. Here’s how.

To remove soot and smoke stains:

  1. Make a paste of TSP and water.
  2. Apply the paste to a sponge, and use it to scrub off the black stains.
  3. Rinse the sponge thoroughly, and remove any residue with clean water.

Since brick is more porous, you may need to apply the TSP paste with a scrub brush when cleaning a brick surround. Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Print   Video Transcript

Danny Lipford: Joanna writes to us: “How can I clean the soot and smoke off the face of my fireplace?”

You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fireplace surround that didn’t have at least a little bit of smoke and soot somewhere on the face of the fireplace. Now, basically, it’s just grease, so you need a good degreaser in order to clean this up. And one of the best degreasers I’ve ever found is TSP or trisodium phosphate.

Now, to apply this powder onto a vertical surface would be really hard. And if you try to spray any kind of cleaner on it, it will run right down. So what I’m going to do is make this simple paste by adding just a little bit of water to the TSP.

And using the same sponge, we’ll just apply this like that and come back with a more abrasive side of the sponge, and you can see it does a great job in cleaning all of that off.

And you’ll want a good, clean sponge to make sure you’re getting rid of all of the residue. Of course, cleaning ceramic tiles like this is fairly easy, because it has a glaze.

But if you have brick on your fireplace surround, then you’ll need to be a little more aggressive. The paste will work well, but you may need one of these.



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