A fireplace can be a cozy addition to any home, but one of the inevitable byproducts is soot on the surrounding bricks. Soot can leave lasting stains on the material it comes in contact with, so it’s important to clean this buildup at least once a year. To clean soot from your brick, stick with using baking soda or white vinegar for a natural solution, or use a chemical cleaner like TSP to make your bricks clean again.
[Edit]Getting Your Fireplace Ready to Clean
Let your fireplace cool for at least 12 hours before you start. Hot bricks should not be cleaned. After your fire, let everything cool down overnight or for at least 12 hours before you start any cleaning methods. This will protect your hands and make sure no chemicals get warmed up as you use them.
If you use your fireplace for heat, consider cleaning it during the summer months when you won’t need to use it as much.
Remove the ashes and loose soot. Use a brush and dustpan to clean your fireplace out before you start scrubbing it. Throw away any ashes or large pieces of charred wood that may be in the fireplace. This will make your cleaning process much easier.
You can set aside wood that has not been burned to use later.
Lay a drop cloth or towels down to protect your floors. As you clean, you may drip water or chemicals on the floor around your fireplace. Lay down a protective covering on your floors surrounding your fireplace to make sure you don’t damage your carpet or hardwood.
Put on rubber gloves to protect your hands. As you scrub your fireplace, you may end up getting chemicals on your hands. Put on rubber kitchen gloves to protect your skin and avoid irritation. If you are using TSP cleaner, put on safety goggles as well.[Edit]Using Baking Soda
Make a paste of a 1:1 ratio of water and baking soda. Combine 4 tbsp (56 g) of baking soda with of warm water. Stir the ingredients together until they form a thick paste. If your mixture is too runny, add more baking soda.
Rub the mixture into the bricks with your hands. Scoop large amounts of your baking soda paste and spread it onto your fireplace. Work from the top down to create a thin layer all over the brick face. Spread extra paste on the inside of the fireplace, since that is where the soot will be the thickest. Pay special attention to the crevices and grooves in between bricks. Focus on any areas of the fireplace are particularly dirty.
Put on rubber kitchen gloves to protect your hands, or use a clean rag to spread the paste instead.
Let the paste sit for 10 minutes. The baking soda will work to break down grease and grime on your bricks. Allow the paste to sit for about 10 minutes to loosen up the soot. Do not let the paste dry or harden all the way, or it could damage your bricks.
If your paste does get too dry, spray it with water to loosen it up again.
Scrub the mixture away with an abrasive scrub brush. Use a scrub brush with hard bristles to scrub away the mixture. Dip your brush in water occasionally to wash away the baking soda residue. The mildly abrasive baking soda will work with your brush to scrub away tough soot.
Do not brush so hard that you damage the bricks themselves.
Wipe down your bricks with warm water and remove the drop cloths. Use a soft sponge dipped in warm water to completely remove any baking soda left on your bricks. Let the fireplace dry completely before you use it again. Remove any drop cloths or towels you put down to catch spills.[Edit]Cleaning with Vinegar
Combine a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Combine of white vinegar with of warm water in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle to make sure they are mixed well. Use a clean spray bottle that has not ever had any harsh chemicals in it.
You can buy empty spray bottles at most home goods and hardware stores.
Spray the inside and outside of the fireplace with the vinegar solution. Working from the top down, spray your vinegar solution all over the bricks. Pay special attention to areas that have a lot of soot, which could be right around the opening of the fireplace. Make sure you have a drop cloth down to catch any drips.
If you have leftover vinegar solution, you can use it as a natural cleaner for bathrooms and countertops.
Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. Vinegar is mildly acidic, so it will work to break down the soot and grime stuck onto your bricks. Let the vinegar and water sit on your bricks, but do not let it dry. Don’t let it sit for longer than 10 minutes, or the acidity could start to damage your bricks.
Scrub the bricks from the top down with a scrub brush. Dip your scrub brush in warm water and scrub your bricks. Pay special attention to the grooves in between bricks and any areas that have a lot of soot. Scrub at the bricks until the vinegar smell is no longer there.
You can sprinkle baking soda over your bricks to remove the vinegar faster. However, this will cause a foaming reaction on your bricks and could create a mess.
Clean your bricks with warm water and remove the drop cloths. Use a soft sponge to quickly spread warm water over all your bricks. Take away any drop cloths or towels you used on the floor around your fireplace. Let your fireplace dry completely before you burn anything in it again.[Edit]Removing Soot with TSP
Put on gloves to protect your hands. TSP, or trisodium phosphate, can damage your skin if you get it on you directly. Put on rubber kitchen gloves to protect your hands. Avoid touching TSP with your bare hands as much as you can.
You can find rubber gloves at most home goods stores.
Mix trisodium phosphate and warm water in a bucket. Combine 8 tbsp (112 g) of TSP and of warm water. Use a plastic bucket that will not come into contact with food later. Stir the mixture until it forms a thin, watery paste.
You can buy TSP at most hardware stores.
Use a hard-bristled brush to scrub the mixture into the bricks. Scrub the paste into your bricks on the outside and inside of your fireplace using your brush. Work from the top down, and apply extra paste to areas with more soot. Scrub at the areas to remove the soot. Be careful not to damage the bricks themselves as you scrub, especially if your fireplace is old.
Rinse the bricks with warm water using a sponge. Use a soft sponge to apply warm water all over your bricks. Gently sponge away any TSP residue that is left on your bricks. Rinse your bucket and brushes thoroughly once you are done using them.
If there is still soot left on your bricks, apply more TSP paste and scrub them again.
When you’re done, remove the dropcloths.[Edit]Tips
Only burn dry, clean wood to keep your fireplace clean for longer.[Edit]Warnings
Never use abrasive chemicals when you clean soot from brick. Many will leave a flammable film which could be dangerous the next time you use your fireplace.
Only clean the fireplace when you are certain all ashes are entirely cold. Heat can remain trapped in the ashes for several days after a fire and you could inadvertently burn yourself.[Edit]Things You’ll Need
[Edit]Using Baking Soda
Drop cloth or towels
Gloves or rag
Abrasive brush[Edit]Cleaning with Vinegar
Abrasive brush[Edit]Removing Soot with TSP
Safety goggles (optional)
[Edit]Quick Summary↑ http://www.gobrick.com/docs/default-source/read-research-documents/technicalnotes/20-cleaning-brickwork.pdf
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Recycling newspaper is incredibly easy since there isn’t anything unique about newspaper that makes it difficult to process. Most newspapers can be included with your standard recyclables. Contact your municipal government to find out how you should sort your recycling for pickup. If you prefer, you can also compost your newspaper alongside leaves, food waste, and lawn trimmings. If you want to get more use out of your newspaper before recycling or composting it, use it as a packing material, gift wrap, weed killer, or window cleaner.
[Edit]Using Your Standard Recycling
Contact your municipal government to see if they take newspaper. There is nothing special about newspaper that makes it hard to recycle. However, some local governments have unique restrictions on what type of recyclables can be put in the same bin, and some require that papers and plastics be separated. Call your local streets and sanitation department to see what their recycling requirements are for newspapers.
Look online to find your local streets and sanitation or waste collection department’s phone number. It may also be printed on your recycling bin if your city provided you with it.
The vast majority of the time, your city’s waste collection department will tell you that newspaper can be stuffed in the same bin as your other plastics, papers, and cardboard boxes.
Place your newspaper in your standard recycling bin. Fold your newspaper flat so that it fits in your recycling bin and doesn’t take up a ton of space. Set it outside for your weekly pick-up alongside your cardboard and other paper.
Keep your recyclables away from food contamination by holding on to your takeout containers and disposable plates. Food-waste and greasy residue belongs in the trash, not your recycling bin.
Take your newspapers to a recycling plant if your city doesn’t pick up. If your local government doesn’t recycle or they refuse to take newspapers, you can take them to a plant yourself. Look online to find recycling plants in your area. Call the closest plant and ask them if they take newspaper. If they do, wait until you’ve filled a bin with newspapers. Then, drive them to the local plant and drop them off for recycling,
Unless the plant has a special focus on materials that are difficult to process, the recycling plant near you will have no problem taking your newspaper.
Most municipal plants do not charge a fee for dropping materials off.[Edit]Composting Newspaper
Create a compost bin or pile, using your newspaper as filler. Composting is the process of piling up organic materials and allowing them to decompose over time. This can be done in a bin, box, or free-standing pile. Choose to set up a composting bin or box if you want to keep your compost contained. If you have a large yard, a free-standing pile is perfectly fine.
You need a mix of “green” and “brown” materials to compost. Green materials refer to organics that are usually green, like plants, flowers, and food waste. Browns tend to be white or brown. Newspapers count as a brown for composting purposes, even if they are white or gray in color.
Get a bin with a lid if you’re worried about smell. It isn’t essential for the composting process, though.
Layer your newspapers in the bottom half of a compost bin or pile. To effectively compost, you need an equal mixture of green and brown layers. Since newspaper takes longer to break down than standard organic waste and can blow away in the wind, lay it out flat in the bottom half of your bin to keep it weighed down. You can add any number of layers, but the more you add, the longer it will take to break down.
It doesn’t matter what type of newspaper you use or how many layers you add. The bigger your compost pile is, the longer it will take to break down, though.
Incorporate your newspaper in thinner layers if you want them to compost as quickly as possible.
Include a mixed set of green and brown layers for maximum effectiveness.
Add your compost by hand or with a shovel. You shouldn’t add any toxic materials to the pile to begin with, so it will be fine to touch the compost.
Wait 2-4 weeks for your pile to begin breaking down. Compost will break down naturally over time. Eventually, it will turn into a soil-like substance that you can use in your yard as fertilizer. Leave the pile alone for 2-4 weeks to let it start to break down.
Mix your pile and wait another 3-4 weeks for your compost to break down. The amount of time that it takes for your compost to decompose depends upon the materials, the temperature, and the air flow your compost is exposed to. After the first 2-4 weeks have passed, use a shovel or trowel to mix your pile up. Mix the pile once a week to continue introducing air, which will aid in the breakdown of the organic materials. Wait another 3-4 weeks for your pile to break down into a soil-like material.
It may take longer than 6 weeks for your compost to break down if you have a really large pile.
Use your compost in the garden as a topsoil. Compost is a nutrient-rich material that will promote healthy plant growth in your garden. Once your compost has broken down, spread it out across your garden as a topsoil to incorporate it into your yard or garden.
Start a new compost pile or bin once you spread your decomposed compost out.
You can tell when a compost pile is done decomposing when you can no longer identify the ingredients that you originally added. It should look like a uniform mound of soil-like debris.[Edit]Upcycling and Reusing Newspaper
Use old newspaper as gift wrap to cut back on waste. Instead of spending money on fancy gift wrap, use stacks of old newspaper to wrap your gifts. Lay a sheet of newspaper flat and place your box or item in the center of the paper. Pull a corner up and smooth it down with the palm of your hand. Use a piece of tape to affix the corner to your item and repeat for the other corners. Use multiple sheets layered on top of one another to cover the item.
Keep shipped goods from breaking with newspaper. Newspaper is soft and makes a great packing material. Instead of using bubble wrap or packing peanuts, fill your boxes with crumpled newspaper to keep your goods from breaking or shattering while they’re being shipped.
Packing peanuts and bubble wrap are extremely difficult to recycle. This is a good way to avoid introducing them into the environment.
Do not use newspaper to keep perishable goods safe. The ink on the paper may make its way into the organic material.
Clean windows and glass with black and white newspaper. The next time you grab some window cleaner to clean your windows, use newspapers instead of paper towels. Spread the newspaper out around your palm and wipe your windows using a circular motion after spraying them with the cleaner. Dry newspaper can also be used to wipe your cleaner off and wipe your window dry.
Don’t use paper with color ink on it to do this. Sometimes, colored ink breaks down and wipes off when it gets wet. Black and white newspaper will be fine though.
If you really want to cut back on your carbon footprint, use a mixture of 1-part vinegar and 1-part water instead of a commercial cleaner.
You can compost your vinegar-soaked newspaper after you’re done. You can’t recycle it in your standard recycling bin, though.
Smother weeds in your garden with newspaper stacks. To use newspaper in your garden, grab a stack of 5-10 newspapers. Take them to a weed-infested area of your garden and lay them directly on top of the weeds. Then, cover the newspapers with wood chips or mulch to smother the weeds and keep them from spreading. Over time, your newspapers will decompose on top of the weeds and work their way into your soil, killing the weeds in the process.
This is a good way to get rid of newspapers naturally without introducing harmful chemicals into your garden.[Edit]Things You’ll Need
[Edit]Using Your Standard Recycling
Recycling bin[Edit]Composting Newspaper
Compost bin (optional)
Shovel or trowel[Edit]References↑ https://www.paperrecycles.org/media/blog/paperrecycles-blog/2018/05/22/do-you-know-how-to-recycle-all-the-different-types-of-mail-you-receive