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05/16/2022

How to Clean a Limestone Fireplace: All you Need to Know

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It is not uncommon for homeowners of Columbus and Cincinnati to include fireplaces in their homes. If you have a limestone fireplace installed in your home, it is important to know how to clean it properly. Often we find homeowners asking questions about cleaning a limestone fireplace and how to clean a limestone hearth.

In this article, we will cover how to clean a limestone fireplace effectively and also expose some cleaning techniques to generally avoid when cleaning fireplaces.

Before You Start: How to Dust Limestone Fireplace

Before you delve right into a thorough cleaning of your custom limestone fireplace, you might want to start with dusting. Cleaning a limestone fireplace by starting with dusting helps to reduce your work when the “real” cleaning begins.

  1. Shield the Base - Because you do not want dirt to accumulate on the fireplace floor (as this will be harder to clean), place a rag or sheet at the base while you clean. This will catch falling dirt which can be easily removed when you are done dusting.
  2. Vacuum the Fireplace - Vacuuming can be a very effective process for cleaning your limestone fireplace. Use a non-spinning vacuum brush to clean up loose dirt, being very careful not to scratch the surface of the limestone fireplace.
  3. Wipe if You Cannot Vacuum - Supposing you do not have a non-spinning vacuum brush attachment or you are nervous about scratching the surface, you could carefully wipe the area clean instead. Use a soft, dry cloth and begin dusting from top to bottom.

How to Clean a Limestone Hearth

how to clean a limestone hearth
Limestone fireplace

One of the popular questions homeowners of Columbus and Cincinnati ask is how to clean a limestone hearth. The hearth is just as important as the fireplace exterior and should be cleaned properly. You could use a store-bought limestone wash or make yours using lukewarm water and dishwashing detergent.

  1. Wash the Surface with a Damp Cloth - Limestone hearth cleaning requires carefulness. Dip a soft towel or microfiber cloth into the washing solution and squeeze out excess water. Wipe the hearth with the towel thoroughly but carefully. Do this a couple of times till the hearth is clean.
  2. Wipe Clean - Take a clean dry cloth and wipe the surface of the hearth to remove residual dust. You might want to apply a bit more pressure here. Consider removing stubborn stains with a soft brush.
  3. Rinse with Clean Water - You may need to repeat the first two processes to ensure thorough cleaning. After you are done, use clean water and a soft towel to wipe the hearth surface and remove residual detergent. Leave the fireplace to dry out on its own.

Limestone Fireplace Cleaning: Products to Avoid

Although limestone is a durable natural stone, it also has a delicate surface. Therefore, certain cleaning products can easily damage the beauty of your fireplace. Limestone is rich in calcium, an element that absorbs moisture. Calcium is also quite sensitive to acidic substances and reacts quickly to them. Therefore, acidic cleaning products, especially liquids, can potentially damage your limestone fireplace.

Generally, you should avoid the following cleaning products:

  • Detergents that do not have a neutral pH
  • Ammonia sprays
  • Citrusy liquids, e.g. lemon juice
  • Other acid-based cleaners

How to Remove Stains from Limestone Fireplace?

Next, we will explore how to remove stains from limestone fireplaces. Some stains other than dust might be quite difficult to remove and require more than dusting or wiping, as limestone is a very porous stone.

A safe and efficient way to remove stains from your limestone fireplace is to use a cleaning poultice. You can buy from a store or make one at home using flour and hydrogen peroxide until you develop a paste-like consistency.

Steps for Removing Stain with Cleaning Poultice

  1. Dip a sponge or cloth into the poultice and apply it to the stained parts of your limestone fireplace.
  2. Leave the poultice to dry and set completely. This could take 24 to 48 hours.
  3. Make sure that no one touches the surface at this time.
  4. After the poultice is set, you can remove the dried paste from the fireplace surface. Preferably, you should use a scraping material with a soft edge so you don't scratch the limestone surface.
  5. If the stain persists, you can repeat the process until the poultice totally absorbs the stain from the limestone.

Can Vinegar Be Used for the Limestone Fireplace Cleaning?

Vinegar is an effective home cleaning and disinfecting product. However, it is not appropriate for cleaning limestone fireplaces. Being a citrus-based cleaner, vinegar is significantly acidic. Limestone reacts to acid, breaking down into salt, water, and carbon dioxide. Using vinegar on your limestone fireplace can eat up the surface, affecting the outlook and disturbing the integrity of the fireplace’s exterior.

A good alternative to vinegar when cleaning a limestone fireplace is to use detergents with neutral pH levels.

Can You Polish Limestone Mantel with Sandpaper?

Limestone fireplace
Limestone fireplace

Sandpaper works well as an abrasive to remove stains on surfaces but not on delicate surfaces like limestone. Sandpaper scratches the surface of your stone, and this will affect the smooth aesthetics of the fireplace. Instead of sandpaper and other abrasives, consider using a soft cloth or at most, a soft brush to remove stubborn stains.

Is Cleaning Limestone with Bleach a Good Idea?

Cleaning limestone with bleach is not recommended in any way. The chemical composition of bleach makes it a harsh product that can corrode your limestone fireplace. If you are considering bleach for disinfecting your fireplace and getting rid of fungal growth, it should be completely diluted with water using the ratio of about one cup of bleach to a gallon of water.

Sealing Limestone Fireplace for Better Protection

A more permanent way to keep dirt and stains off your limestone fireplace is to use a special limestone sealer. It is important to note that this will need to be re-applied from time to time.

Sealing your limestone fireplace gives extra protection that prevents stains and liquids from reaching the real thing beneath. Make sure to also reach out to an expert regarding the best sealing material to consider and how to properly apply it.

Conclusion

Cleaning a limestone fireplace helps to remove dust and stains and maintain the natural pristine look of limestone. However, it is important to do it the right way to prevent potential damage to the fireplace.

Now you know how to carefully and efficiently clean a limestone fireplace, how to clean a limestone hearth, and also covered frequently asked questions like cleaning limestone with bleach and how to remove stains from limestone fireplace.

If you think your limestone fireplace is damaged, consider a natural stone restoration service from Stone Center. This can help bring your fireplace back to premium conditions without having to replace it.

Should you have any questions, contact us today for further information.