Rock fireplaces add a majestic, natural feel to a room, but owning a rock fireplace comes with its own share of unique maintenance problems, not least of which is cleaning the accumulated soot and grime. Depending on the type of rock, a simple soapy water wash may not penetrate the porous surface of the stone. Basic commercial cleaners react differently to different materials and may permanently stain or etch the rock, while specialty cleaners can cost an arm and a leg. Fortunately, the gentle acids in vinegar clean rock fireplaces cheaply and effectively.
Cover the flooring around the fireplace with a plastic sheet to catch any dripping or running water. Remove any decorations or accessories from around the fireplace.
Pour 1 gallon of water into a plastic bucket. Add 1 cup of vinegar to the water, then stir the liquid.
Dampen a clean cotton rag with the solution. Wash the exterior of the fireplace with the rag, starting at the top so that any dripping vinegar runs off on the rocks below it. Clean the nooks between the rocks as well as possible.
Scrub the interior of the fireplace with a nylon scrub brush if the soot won't respond to a simple cloth wash. Dampen the scrub brush in the vinegar solution. Clean the interior of the fireplace from the top down the same as you did the exterior.
Examine the rock for any remaining dirt or soot after thoroughly washing the interior and exterior. Touch up any dirty areas as necessary. Use a toothbrush to reach any hard-to-reach places between the rocks.
Dampen a clean cotton cloth in cold water. Wipe down the fireplace to rinse off any remaining vinegar.
Pat the fireplace dry using a soft cotton towel.