December is a month of celebration, where families across the country enjoy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa – just to name a few. Decorations, new and old, are pulled from boxes and hung with care. For homes with a fireplace, the mantle is often a favourite spot for festive decor. But, don’t let dirt and soot smear your efforts. This year, take a few minutes to clean the mantle before decorating to make it really pop!

Before you start, you need to be aware of a couple things:

  • The cleaning agent you need to cut through grease and soot is called Trisodium Phosphate Cleaner (TSP). It’s a form of lye, so always wear gloves and goggles when handling it.
  • Never use straight or pure TSP directly on the mantle. Always dilute it with water. Straight TSP can stain wood or may damage the mantle. Diluting the mixture will allow it to remove the soot without damage.

Now it’s time to clean!

STEP 1: It’s important to wear gloves and goggles to protect skin and eyes when using TSP. Mix together 1/4 cup of TSP with 2 gallons (7.5 liters) of warm water.

STEP 2: Using a stiff bristled brush, dip the brush into the solution and gently apply to the mantle. To clean ornate carvings, switch to an old toothbrush that will get into small crevices.

STEP 3: Soak a microfibre cloth into clean water and rinse the mantle to remove the last remnants of soot and TSP mixture. Repeat scrubbing and rinsing as necessary until the soot is gone.

PRO TIP: Coffee grounds help eliminate dust when cleaning out the fireplace. Wait until embers are cool, at least 24 hours after use. Sprinkle damp coffee grounds over the ash in the fireplace and let sit for about 15 minutes. Then, simply scoop debris into a metal can. The coffee grounds cling to the ash, so it doesn’t spew dust nearly as much as it would otherwise.

 

 

Photo by Charles Deluvio