How to Clean Soot from a Brick Fireplace Surround

Stains from soot and smoke are a common problem on the surround around a wood-burning fireplace.

To remove black stains around a fireplace, use a strong degreaser, such as trisodium phosphate (TSP), which is available at home centers and hardware stores.

To remove soot and smoke stains:

  1. Make a paste from TSP and water.
  2. Apply the paste to a sponge, and use it to scrub the black stains.
  3. Rinse the sponge thoroughly, and remove any residue with clean water.

Since brick is more porous, you may need to apply the TSP paste with a scrub brush when cleaning a brick surround.

Watch this video to learn more.

Further Reading


Danny Lipford: Joanna writes to us: “How can I clean the soot and smoke off the face of my fireplace?”

You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fireplace surround that didn’t have at least a little bit of smoke and soot somewhere on the face of the fireplace.

Now, basically, it’s just grease, so you need a good degreaser in order to clean this up. And one of the best degreasers I’ve ever found is TSP or trisodium phosphate.

Now, to apply this powder onto a vertical surface would be really hard. And if you try to spray any kind of cleaner on it, it will run right down. So what I’m going to do is make this simple paste by adding just a little bit of water to the TSP.

And using the same sponge, we’ll just apply this like that and come back with a more abrasive side of the sponge, and you can see it does a great job in cleaning all of that off.

And you’ll want a good, clean sponge to make sure you’re getting rid of all of the residue. Of course, cleaning ceramic tiles like this is fairly easy, because it has a glaze.

But if you have brick on your fireplace surround, then you’ll need to be a little more aggressive. The paste will work well, but you may need one of these.


  1. Your suggestion of using tsp to clean smoke off a brick fireplace just doesn’t,t work. There used to be a product called smoke remove made by protocol that was very effective. So far my research does not show any current availability.

  2. This fireplace surround is natural stone a hundred years old or so old.
    It has some smoke stains but that blends in with the multishades of brown and mortar. To bring out the surface and color interest of the stones Downy liquid fabric softener can be used. Excess is wiped off and after using this for years and reapplying periodically it doesn’t seem to collect dust or damage the stones in any way.

  3. Hello, I have a marble fireplace with a burn mark from where some wood rolled out of the fire and scorched the marble. Would your method work in this scenario?

    Thank you.

    • Hi, M. Jens,
      “Since whitewash finish generally has soaked into the pores of the brick, it most likely will not affect it all,” Danny says.
      Thanks for writing to us!

  4. My son left the fireplace on all night and now the stucco above is a lighter color in some spots and discolored. Any suggestions for how to fix?


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