Image of three kids by a fireplace.

How to clean a stone fireplace.

Last Updated: October 21, 2021

Trying to get stubborn stains off the face or inside of your stone fireplace? Learn how to remove things like soot and stains from a stone fireplace from Grove.

Your stone fireplace adds a warm and rustic touch to your home. But after a few winters of building fires to keep cozy, it may be time for a deep cleaning.

Smoke and soot can leave your fireplace looking dingy, but the good news is that you don’t need to hire a pro to put the shine back into your hearth! If you’re frustrated with the build-up of soot and grime, read on to learn how to clean a limestone fireplace (or any natural stone) — the easy way.

Why is it important to clean soot off your stone fireplace?

If you have a darker-toned stone fireplace, dust, dirt, creosote, and soot might not be as noticeable as they would be on lighter limestone fireplace fronts, where these dark messes might absolutely drive you crazy.

Whether or not you detect noticeable stains, cleaning your fireplace regularly is important, or the buildup of creosote over time could make your home more prone to fires, according to FEMA.

What is creosote, anyway?

Creosote is a residue that results when you burn wood or fossil fuels. If the airflow to the fire is inadequate, the oils in the wood off-gas as volatile compounds that travel up through the smoke.

As the smoke cools and condenses, these compounds cake up inside and outside of your chimney in a black or brown, tar-like substance. All forms of creosote are highly combustible and need to be removed for optimal safety.

How to clean a stone fireplace — naturally

Illustration of a sponge.

Now that we’ve cleared up the dangers of not cleaning the fireplace, let’s get to some helpful tips and tricks for cleaning a stone fireplace in just a few basic steps.

If you’re as big of a fan of green cleaning as we are, you’re probably not interested in using harsh chemicals to get the job done. You’re in luck — the gentle acids in vinegar clean stone and limestone fireplaces effectively, without costing an arm and a leg!

Read more about the power of cleaning vinegar — Grove writer Phoenix tried it and recorded the results in before-and-afters!

4 steps to clean a stone fireplace

1. Do some basic prepwork

Safety first — let your fireplace cool down for at least 12 hours before you begin cleaning.

Remove any accessories or decorations, and place a plastic sheet or tarp on the floor to prevent staining. Grab a bucket, and mix a gallon of warm water with one cup of vinegar.

2. Apply a bit of elbow grease

Submerge a cleaning rag (microfiber is ideal) into the vinegar/water solution, and scrub the stone!

Start at the top, and work your way to the bottom, paying attention to the nooks and crannies along the way. If the soot or creosote doesn’t wash away immediately, fight back with a scrub brush.

3. Don’t forget to clean the inside!

Use a shovel to scoop up ashes inside the firebox.

Place the ashes in a metal container with a lid, and store the container outside away from your home until you’re ready to empty it. Steer clear of harsh cleaning chemicals that could leave flammable residue behind.

4. Touch up as necessary

Examine the exterior of the fireplace for any remaining dirt or soot. Touch up as necessary.

For hard-to-reach areas, or to freshen up the grout, use a toothbrush to clean between the stones. If you use a rag and water to clean up, go back in with a clean towel to pat the fireplace dry.

Looking for some tips and tricks for cleaning a brick fireplace? Learn how to clean fireplace bricks naturally in just a few simple steps!

Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and Grove Co. cleaning caddy

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How do you get tough stains off a stone fireplace?

Illustration of an arm flexing.

If you’re dealing with tough stains (especially on a light limestone or white stone fireplace) and vinegar just isn’t cutting it, don’t panic!

Some folks swear by commercial cleaners like sodium phosphate (also known as TSP) and muriatic acid, but these are both highly toxic. Before you turn to harsh chemicals as a solution, check out this video to learn why a touch of manual labor might just do the trick!

Grove Tip

When to call in the pros

If you can’t get your stone fireplace as clean as you’d like, call in a pro.

If you opt for chemical-based cleaners instead, follow the product directions to a T.

Some cleaning chemicals are harmful only if ingested, while others are extremely toxic and should only be used in well-ventilated areas.

Get more information about which cleaning chemicals and ingredients are harmful and which are safe to use at home.

Follow Jonathan Van Ness' lead and try plastic-free natural products from Grove

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