Despite all of the advantages and comforts a wood burning fireplace can offer, cleaning them can sometimes be a daunting task. Nonetheless, maintaining a wood burning fireplace is a necessity, as soot can build up quite easily over long periods of time. Ideally, you would like to clean your fireplace when you do not expect to use it for a while, such as during the summer. Follow the tips below to make your cleaning process as simple and calm as possible.
To start, apply a pair of latex or rubber gloves and put on old clothing. Both tasks are necessary, as you will undoubtedly get dirty, no matter your level of care. After making sure no hot coals or ashes remain in your fireplace, transport your andirons and grate outside and remove excess soot with a wire brush. Use a specialized cleaning material if you wish to polish these items. Return to your fireplace and remove loose coals and ashes with a shovel. These can be placed in a double-bagged trash can. Sweep up any loose dust.
Next, place newspaper down on the fireplace floor, allowing it to "climb" a few inches up the sides of all walls. Be sure the newspaper covers all areas onto which soot from the wall might fall. Starting at the top, use a wire brush to scrape and loosen soot from the walls. When finished, carefully wrap up the newspapers and dispose of the soot.
Lastly, you will need to apply a fireplace solvent. The choice of product is up to you, but ones that contain TSP (trisodium phosphate) are popular. Scrub the inside of your fireplace with generous portions of this solvent. Be sure to use a stiff-bristled brush, not the wire brush you used prior. Once clean, rinse with warm water. Allow the entire area to air dry before returning the andirons and grate.