Cleaning a fireplace is a messy, yet necessary chore. After the fire dies down and the embers are no longer hot, you will be left with a heaping pile of ashes. Traditionally, scooping the ashes out of the bottom of the fireplace and into an ash can was messy business. Little has changed over the years, it is still a messy job. It is not considered safe to vacuum ashes away with a shop vacuum or other household vacuum because ashes can smolder for up to two weeks. Sucking in smoldering ashes may result in a smoldering vacuum, leading to a smoldering house. It is just not safe.
Fortunately, there is a very easy way to keep the dust down when it is time to clean the ashes out of the fireplace.
Save your old, used coffee grounds. Keep them in the freezer so they do not become moldy. Storing them in the original coffee can or a lidded plastic container will work.
When it is time to clean, take the ashes out of the freezer and let them defrost a bit.
Dump the ashes in a pot and add just enough warm water to make the old coffee grounds wet again. Strain the coffee ground if you end up adding too much water to them.
Generously sprinkle the damp coffee grounds over the ashes in the bottom of the fireplace.
Let the coffee grounds sit on top of the ashes for 10 to 15 minutes.
Scoop out the old grinds and ashes. The ashes will no longer give off dust. The fireplace ash clings to the old coffee grounds, clumps slightly and keeps the dust away.
Do scoop the grounds and ashes into a metal ash can, just in case the ashes are still hot.
Now you have a less messy job and a good use for old coffee grounds.
This works well for outdoor fire pits and charcoal grills also. If you are not a coffee drink, wet tea leaves are just as effective, but you may have a tougher time collecting the amount you will need.