For me, the rule of thumb has always been that if I use my fireplace at least four times a year, I'll clean it at least once a year. I tend it to use it more often that, so I clean it more. It's not the most exciting task, but that's just the price you pay for enjoying a crackling fire. Ideally, it's best to clean it when you won't be using it again soon (i.e. before and after the Winter season). To learn how to clean out your fireplace,
- First of all, don't even think about cleaning your fireplace until all of its ashes have cooled — give it a day, at least. I'd also recommend putting on a mask before you put your face near all of that ash. This job can get messy, so lay down some newspapers in front of the fireplace to keep the ashes contained.
- To begin, open the damper and use a stiff bristle brush to briskly and strongly clean soot and creosote buildup out of it. Creosote is the dark residue on the inside of your chimney and back of your fireplace.
- Now, remove ashes from the hearth with a broom and dustpan or shovel into a bucket with a lid, and then vacuum the hearth to get rid of fine bits. Let the ash sit for a few days to make sure any live coals die down before you get rid of them.
- Put your fire grate and andirons on your newspapers and scrub off loose residue with a wire brush.
- Place your fire grate and andirons on an old towel and wipe them down with a rag. Wipe them down gently with steel wool dipped in metal polish, then wipe off the polish with a rag. Once dry, spray with a vinegar and water solution, and wipe clean. Then let dry.
- Now, spray your vinegar and water solution onto your fireplace bricks, and let it soak. Then, use your stiff bristle brush to give it a good scrub. Repeat until clean.
- Rinse everything with warm water and let dry. Vacuum the surround of your fireplace, and toss your ashes. If you have only wood ashes, you can compost them, but do not compost Duraflame ashes.