A quick going-over at the end of the season will keep your fireplace spotless until next winter. Start by shielding surrounding surfaces with a protective covering, like newspaper, to prevent soot from spreading. Then follow these steps from Scott Santel, store manager of the Home Depot in Maryville, Tennessee.
Remove andirons and grate. Add water to trisodium phosphate (TSP) powder to create a paste. Apply to andirons and grate and scrub with a nylon brush. Rinse completely with water; wipe dry.
Scoop out any leftover piles of ash and debris with a fireplace shovel and discard.
Scrub fireplace walls from top down with TSP paste and dirt-removal sponge, such as the Dry Cleaning Soot sponge ($33 for 12, homedepot.com).