While a fireplace can add a lot of character to any home, burning anything in it will keep you from having a single clean fireplace brick almost immediately. There is almost no way to prevent soot stains on the bricks in your fireplace, short of never using it. However, it is possible to clean soot off using ordinary materials. What follows should give you all of the information you need to do it.
Step 1 - Setting Up
Before you do anything, put down drop cloths or plastic to protect your floor. Cover any nearby areas that are in contact with the bricks in your fireplace. If you end up with sooty water on your floor or in your carpet, you are right back where you started.
Once you have protection for your floor placed properly, put on your rubber gloves and change into clothes that you do not mind getting dirty.
Step 2 - Cleaning the Bricks
Fill two buckets with warm water. Soak your sponge in one of the buckets and use it to rinse off the entire exterior of your fireplace. Start at the top of your fireplace, and work your way towards the bottom. Be sure not to miss any spots.
Now that your bricks are damp, you can use your foaming bathroom cleaner spray to remove soot from them. Spray the foam cleaner over the entire fireplace, making sure to cover every single brick completely. The cleaner will start to foam on its own. Let the cleaner sit for 1 minute, or if the packaging names a different time, leave it for that amount instead. Once the cleaner has been allowed to sit and foam for the required amount of time, you can start to do the actual work of removing soot from your fireplace bricks in an effective manner.
Get your scrub brush out and go over the bricks in your fireplace bit by bit. While the cleaner will do most of the work on its own, scrubbing is still necessary. Again, start at the top of your fireplace and work your way down. If you start at the bottom, you will accidentally get areas that you have worked on dirty again.
Step 3 - Finishing Up
Use a wet sponge to remove all of the foam and soot. Once again, work your way down because your sponge is going to drip a little bit and you do not want to have to go over the same area twice. This is where having two buckets will come in handy, having a supply of water that you have not used yet that stays clean is a good thing. When you are done, inspect your work. Your bricks should look as good as new.
You may have to clean your bricks once or twice a year, depending on how often you use your fireplace. Be sure to follow the careful instructions every time to avoid upholstery soot issues or carpet damage.