How to Clean Your Fireplace Surround

Stone, bricks, marble and wood are among the most popular surfaces for fireplace surrounds. Here’s how to clean them

By Leslie Reichert  |  Courtesy of

There are few better ways to spend a chilly winter’s day than in front of a cozy fireplace. But even if you use your fireplace only once or twice a season, it still needs to be cleaned and cared for correctly. Of all the things you can clean with just soap and water, soot is not one of them. Cleaning soot around your fireplace can create a huge mess unless you do it the right way. Let’s look at some ways you can clean fireplace surrounds in a variety of popular surfaces.


Wood Surrounds

You can clean wood fireplace surrounds by using a dry sponge or an eraser sponge designed to remove soot. Whatever you do, don’t try to wipe soot off with a wet cloth or sponge. Soot is very oily, and water and oil just don’t mix. Instead, use a dry sponge or the eraser to remove as much soot as you can. If you have a few smears that won’t come off, dip a corner of the sponge in rubbing alcohol to remove the remaining soot.


If there still seems to be a light film left on the wood, you can use a degreaser and a scrubbing sponge to get into the porous areas of the wood. Wipe the surface with a clean white cloth to see if the soot is coming off with the degreaser.


Stone and Brick Surrounds

Stone and brick fireplace surrounds can be very porous and have lots of nooks and crannies that can hold soot and residue. By using a painter’s tool called TSP (trisodium phosphate) you can mix up a paste with water, then sponge it over the stone or brick to help remove the soot. This powerful cleaner removes dirt, grease and even soot. Once the TSP is spread over the stone or brick, use a wet sponge to rinse it off.

Safety tip: When using TSP, wear rubber gloves, safety goggles and long sleeves. If skin contact occurs, wash thoroughly with soap and water.


A quick way to remove soot from iron trim around a fireplace is to spray a cloth with WD-40 and rub it into the metal. It will remove the soot and leave the metal finish looking brand new. 

Safety tip: Do not use WD-40 while the fireplace is in use or still hot because the chemical is flammable.


Marble Surrounds

Though they provide elegance, marble fireplace surrounds need to be handled differently than any other surround surface. Marble is very absorbent, so start by dusting the entire surface with a dry microfiber cloth to see how much soot has embedded itself into the surround.


After wiping the marble surround with a dry microfiber cloth, dip the cloth in warm distilled water. Wipe the damp cloth on an inconspicuous area of the marble surround to ensure the distilled water doesn’t have any minerals that can damage the marble.

If the soot does not come off with the distilled water, try using a cleaner specifically designed for cleaning marble.


Glass Surrounds

To remove soot from a glass fireplace surround, use distilled white vinegar and an eraser sponge, like the one put out by Mr. Clean. Dip the sponge into the vinegar and rub it in circles over the glass. Repeat the process until all of the soot is removed.