Top Tips for Cleaning and Maintaining your Fireplace
A fireplace is an important and cosy focal feature in the home, providing warmth and comfort in the winter months. If you feel that your fireplace is letting the living room down though and needs a bit of a spruce up, this guide is here to help… With a thorough clean and a few little updates, you will be amazed at the result!
Bringing Back The Sparkle
Sometimes it’s not the fireplace itself that’s at fault. Don’t rush to change it if it is working. If you give it a good clean first, this cheap upgrade can make a huge difference, especially if the fireplace hasn’t been cleaned in a while. Not only will it look so much better, a good clean can help with the fire’s efficiency too. Get yourself set up with a vacuum cleaner, dust pan and brush, microfibre cloths, suitable cleaning solutions and gloves before you start!
With a real, open fire, you’ll want to sweep up any ash once it has cooled and then vaccuum up any loose debris. Soot can gather around the fire’s opening and if you have ceramic tiles, you may have noticed they’re smudgy and somewhat oily. A good way to tackle this is by cleaning with a simple solution of 3 parts water to 1 part white vinegar and wipe off with a microfibre cloth. If tiles are cracked, loose or missing, you can replace them with suitable fireplace tiles. If you can’t find an exact match, why not try a contrasting or complimentary colour or a patterened tile for a pretty update.
You can use wire wool and metal polish on a cast iron fireplace to restore its lustre. But it’s not just the fire’s exterior that needs a good clean from time to time. The chimney should be swept professionally so if this hasn’t been done in a long time, now is the perfect time to get it booked in.
Brick and stone fireplaces
A traditional fireplace provides lots of rustic charm and something like a recessed Inglenook fireplace looks perfect in a period cottage. You can enhance the fireplace by cleaning or whitewashing the brick. Adding some accessories such as a coal bucket and accessories and a large rustic basket filled with logs will increase its appeal.
If you have a gas fire it should be serviced annually and the gas engineer will clean it as part of its maintenance. However, in between you should keep on top of it – this means vacuuming dust, cobwebs and any debris. If the gas fire is glass fronted, you can use a suitable glass cleaner when cool. If it has realistic removable logs or coals, you can gently brush them and replace carefully (take a photo to remember where each piece goes!). They will need replacing periodically and a new set will look extra smart.
Surround, Hearth and Mantelpiece
If your fire insert is marble or has a granite hearth and a wooden mantelpiece, these will all need careful cleaning. Natural stone is a porous natural material, so use a suitable granite or marble cleaner. Avoid acid based cleaning agents. A wooden surround can be gently cleaned with some detergent in warm water, but don’t soak the wood. Furniture polish, e.g. a beeswax based product, can be applied to protect and nourish the wood. If you want to update your wooden fire surround, you could paint it the same colour as your walls for a contemporary look. If you dislike the hearth and surround, you can even cover them in a suitable vinyl wrap to give a totally new look.
No Fireplace? No Problem
If the fireplace has been removed and you have an empty recess in the chimney breast, you could make a nice feature by adding a floating mantel using a chunky wooden beam and inserting a freestanding fire in the empty space. This could be an electric or an ethanol fire. Even just adding a few church candles in the gap can give the room a lovely glow in the evenings. Place a rug on the floor for an extra cosy element.
Hopefully these tips will inspire you to upgrade your fireplace without too much hassle or expense!
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