How to Clean a Natural-Stone Fireplace (a Step-by-Step Guide)

how to clean a stone fireplace

Wondering how to clean a stone fireplace? The good news is that you can easily care for your natural-stone fireplace in – or outside – your home, giving it a brilliant luster and making it a focal point in any setting. Without a proper three-step cleaning, sealing and polishing routine soot, ash and smoke can leave unsightly marks and stains on your once-gorgeous, natural-stone fireplace. And, if left unkempt too long, you will need to call a stone-care professional to assess and address the damage.


What to Know Before Cleaning Your Stone Fireplace

You may not need a professional to come to your house and teach you how to keep your fireplace in pristine condition, but you will need a high-quality, natural-stone cleaner that has been formulated for the specific purpose of safely cleaning natural stone. And you’ll need to know the steps involved in order to get the job done. Let’s first take a look at a few pre-cleaning steps that may impact how – or how often – you clean your fireplace.


Is Your Fireplace Indoor or Outdoor?

Although both indoor and outdoor natural-stone fireplaces will have the same cleaning processes, they will be exposed to different elements and may be prone to different types of damage. For example, an outdoor stone fireplace may be exposed to the weather, wet leaves, insects and direct UV rays, making it susceptible to photochemical reactions such as fading. Whereas an indoor fireplace that is used frequently during colder months may collect soot and debris build-up faster. This all of course, depends on your own lifestyle and usage. However, both types of fireplaces certainly require regular maintenance. As a first step in natural-stone care, it’s important to regularly sweep your fireplace. Outdoor fireplaces may have organic debris, in addition to the soot and ash that collects from normal use. And all natural-stone fireplaces should be regularly cleaned and wiped with a cloth if it comes in contact with another substance, such as liquids, candle wax, spills from beverages and more. Any substance that doesn’t have a neutral pH could leave a permanent stain on your natural stone.


What Kind of Natural Stone Is Installed?

Along with learning how to clean a stone fireplace, it’s important to know some specifics about the particular type of stone you have. If you had the natural-stone fireplace installed in your home, you should already have some information on the care and maintenance of the fireplace and surrounding areas such as the mantle and flooring. Many people select very durable natural-stone options such as bluestone, slate or flagstone for an outdoor fireplace. Granite Gold® can help you maintain any natural-stone fireplace, including granite, marble, sandstone and more. While we recommend a three-step care routine for all natural-stone fireplaces, some materials, such as quartz, may require different cleaning solutions. For quartz, Granite Gold Quartz Brite® offers a two-in-one formula — it’s a cleaning solution that also leaves behind a shiny finish, eliminating the need for a dedicated stone polish solution. If you aren’t sure what type of stone your fireplace is made from, our team of Stone Care Experts can help you identify it and/or conduct a general visual identification. There is also the option to conduct an acid sensitivity test of the stone, but we don’t recommend doing this as it can damage the stone and isn’t effective if the stone has been recently sealed. If you do know the kind of stone you have, it’s time to evaluate the current state of your fireplace.


Assessing Stains, Etching and Other Damage

Are there stains on the stone? What are the stains from? Is there damage to the stone such as scratches or chips? All of these questions can be answered with a thorough and straightforward visual evaluation of the entire fireplace and surrounding area. If the fireplace has not been regularly cleaned, the possibility of permanent stains and etching is much higher. However, if you clean your natural-stone fireplace often and seal it as needed, it will be more resistant to stains, spills, water marks, fingerprints and more.


Common Types of Stains on Natural-Stone Fireplaces

A stone fireplace is vulnerable to the same potential stains as a natural-stone countertop or other stone surface, but there are some more common issues we see specifically on fireplaces:
  • Fire and smoke damage: This is the most common type of stain found on fireplaces, especially older natural-stone fireplaces. Smoke and fire damage will look black and sooty.
  • Moisture damage: Moisture can come up through the floor, chimneys can leak and puddles can form in or near outdoor fireplaces, resulting in a phenomenon called efflorescence. This will present itself as a crystalline build-up or powdery deposit of salts.
  • Organic stains: Stains that come from organic materials like leaves, bark, bird droppings, insects and more will cause a pinkish-brown stain that is obvious once the object has been removed from the stone.
  • Biological stains: These are different from organic stains as they come from algae, mold, moss, fungi or lichens and are more likely to form on outdoor stone. The mark of a stain will remain after the biological material has been removed.
  • Other possible stains: Other stains like inorganic metal stains, paint stains, ink stains, water build-up, spills from beverages and etch marks are all also possible, but they tend to happen more on natural-stone flooring and counters than fireplaces.

Step-by-Step Instructions: How to Clean Your Stone Fireplace

Depending on the frequency of use, plan to clean your stone fireplace at least once a month. This could be increased to cleaning daily and/or as often as needed. With a regular maintenance routine that follows these steps, you can prevent the need to hire a professional cleaning service in the future:
  1. Use a natural stone-safe cleaner, such as Granite Gold Outdoor Stone Cleaner® or Granite Gold Daily Cleaner®.
  2. Rotate nozzle to either the “spray” or “stream” setting.
  3. Spray from a distance of 6-8 inches from the natural-stone surface.
  4. Wipe dry with a paper towel or lint-free cloth.
  5. For vertical surfaces, use “foaming action” by pulling out the tabs at the end of the nozzle.

You don’t need to seal your natural-stone fireplace each time you clean it. However, you can do a simple, at-home water test to see if it’s time to apply more. Pour a small amount of water about 3 inches in diameter on the surface of the fireplace and let it sit for about 30 minutes. If the stone has become darker, that’s an indication that the sealer has worn down and the surface is absorbing the water. If the appearance of the stone has remained the same, your fireplace is properly sealed and doesn’t need any additional applications. As third-generation Stone Care Experts, we’re here to give you the information and trusted products you need to prevent that from happening. We’re here to help you understand how to take care of your natural-stone fireplace, regardless of whether it’s located inside your home, patio or as a part of an outdoor feature.

So, when it comes to caring for a natural-stone fireplace, don’t hesitate to call the Granite Gold® Stone Care Experts at 1-800-475-7866. We’ll explain how to assess the current state of the stone, helping you determine if it may be best to book an appointment with our Stone Care Experts for professional services or if it can be taken care of with the products in our Granite Gold® stone-care line-up, which are all tested and proven to be safe to use on granite, sandstone, slate, bluestone and all other types of natural stone.


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