Eliminating Fireplace Odors

— Written By Trudy Beirise and last updated by
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A fireplace creates an inviting feeling, and a smoldering fire imparts warmth and coziness to your home. Yet the resulting smell of smoke and ash makes a room feel stuffy and unpleasant. After a thorough cleaning of the entire space, including the fireplace and room, remove ash from the fireplace weekly to prevent the problem. Other sources of odor could be creosote buildup, moisture, fallen leaves, and rotting animals. If offensive scents persist even with adequate cleaning, consult a professional chimney sweeper. A chimney cap may need to be installed or replaced to prevent moisture in the chimney and keep animals and debris from falling into the chimney.

Leftover ash in the fireplace permeates a room with its scent, and removing it is the first step to deodorizing your space. At least four days after your last fire, take a stiff brush along the interior walls of your fireplace and brush down the sides, dislodging creosote and ash. Sweep out the bottom of the fireplace and dump this in a trash bag. Sprinkle wet coffee grounds over the ash before sweeping to prevent it from blowing around, or use a vacuum cleaner. Creosote, a build-up resembling tar, forms as a fire smolders and cools down. This substance is highly combustible, especially when build-up exceeds 1/8-inch. Take care when cleaning, and consult a professional if there is a thick layer of creosote in the fireplace. This is a messy job, so dress accordingly. Protect surrounding fabrics and carpet from flying soot!

Wipe down the interior of the fireplace with diluted ammonia or white distilled vinegar. This removes any remaining offensive odors resulting from lingering ash. Dilute 2 cups of white distilled vinegar in 1 gallon of water. Dip a scrub brush in the bucket and scrub down the sides and bottom of the fireplace. Rinse the brush often to remove build-up. As an alternative, dilute all-purpose cleaner in place of the vinegar. Scrub down the grate as well to dislodge ash.

Even when the ash is gone and the fireplace is clean, the smell can linger in the carpet and other soft surfaces in the room. Sprinkle baking soda or an odor-neutralizing powder over carpeting and rugs, upholstery and window treatments. Let this sit for as long as possible, or at least one hour. Vacuum the product thoroughly, making several passes over each section, to eliminate scents. A light spritzing of an odor-neutralizing fabric spray freshens the newly cleaned surfaces further, eliminating the scent of ash.

Remove any lingering odors by wiping down the hard surfaces in the room. Oil soap or diluted dishwashing detergent can be used to clean walls. All-purpose cleaner, oil soap or diluted white distilled vinegar works on most furniture, while a

steam mop or diluted vinegar neutralizes odors on hardwood floors and tile. Always follow-up cleaning by wiping down the area with a damp rag to remove cleaner residue. Dry surfaces with a soft, lint-free cloth.
Source: Amanda Bell, Home Guides.

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