Installing a wood stove was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. It provides the most radiant, encompassing heat that warms our whole house, and it saves us about $2000 per year in propane… Definitely two of the top benefits! It does take a bit of work to maintain, but it’s totally worth it. Besides cutting, splitting, and stacking wood, it’s also important to keep the stove clean and in functioning condition. Clearing out the ashes and cleaning the glass is a chore we do on a weekly basis to keep everything functioning like it should (and allow us to see those beautiful flames clearly!). We’ll walk you through how we clean our wood stove glass and what products we use in this blog post.
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Why Do I Have Dirty Wood Stove Glass?
First of all, why does dirty glass happen? While some amount of soot and smudges are virtually unavoidable, if you’re getting excessive blackening on your glass, you might be able to prevent this problem.
Reasons that the glass of your wood stove is extra dirty might be because:
- You’re burning the wrong fuel
- You’re using wet wood that hasn’t been dried properly or dried long enough
- Your fire is burning inefficiently or not hot enough, which produces extra smoke
You may be able to reduce the amount of cleaning you have to do by adjusting your burning methods or materials.
How to Clean Wood Stove Glass
Although it’s a simple chore, having clean glass on your stove makes a huge impact on the overall feel and look of your fireplace. We give our glass a regular cleaning about once a week when we empty the ashes. This is usually the best time, since the fire box is cool and the fireplace glass is too.
There are numerous ways to clean your wood stove – including using old newspaper, loose ash, and of course, a variety of other products. The method that we like best is quick, simple, uses one product (that’s very cost-effective), and cleans the glass very thoroughly without excessive scrubbing. We think it’s the best way!
The following steps usually take us about 5 minutes.
What You’ll Need:
- Paper towels or dry cloth
- Rutland Glass Cleaner (you can buy this at most hardware stores, home improvement stores, Walmart, or Amazon)
- Razor blade (optional)
Step 1: Make sure the stove is cool
Before getting started, the first thing you need to do is make sure you’re not working with hot glass.
We always start by letting the fire die, emptying ashes into the ash bucket, and removing any remaining wood ashes off the frame of the door around the fireplace glass.
Tip: We like to use a shop vac to really get the frame of the wood burner glass around the stove door clean before cleaning the glass. However, if you’re going to do this, it’s imperative that you don’t have a hot fire or hot coals. You definitely do not want to be sucking up hot coals or ashes into your vacuum cleaner.
Step 2: Clean the dirtiest spots
Next, start cleaning by applying a bit of the stove glass cleaner to your paper towel and scrubbing off the dark spots from the inside of the glass door of your wood burner. Again, if you’re burning effectively and using dry, seasoned wood, you shouldn’t have a ton of sooty glass. Still, we usually find some black soot spots in the corners of our glass.
These stubborn spots are where some wood stove owners use wet newspaper or dip an old rag in a little bit of ash to work at the glass. However, we’ve found that the Rutland Glass Cleaner works so well that we’ve never had to do this.
Step 3: Clean the entire glass surface
After you’ve scrubbed the worst of it off, add some more glass cleaner to your paper towel and wipe it over the entire surface of the stove glass. Rub in a circular motion to remove any dirty spots or smudges.
Then, just use your towels to wipe it clean for a streak-free shine!
It sounds easy, but that’s because it is. Unless your glass is excessively dirty, the glass cleaner makes it really easy to just wipe your glass and get an effective clean.
Step 4: Use a razor to remove any persistent spots
If you have any persistent spots, especially in the corners or around the edges of your glass, you can use a razor blade to carefully chip away the soot. Then, rub with the glass cleaner and paper towel. If you do this step, the most important thing is to make sure to keep the blade flat to avoid scratching your glass.
You’re ready for your next fire!
Step 5 (optional/annually): Remove the glass
Once a year, either at the beginning or end of the winter season, we like to actually remove the glass and clean it. This allows us to get deep into the corners for a really thorough cleaning.
Other Ways to Clean Your Wood Stove Glass
We’ve found this to be the best method for us. Each time we clean our stove, it’s quick, easy, and doesn’t take much scrubbing or elbow grease at all. The few dollars you spend on the Rutland Glass Cleaner is well worth it and will last for dozens of cleanings.
If you don’t have access to this product, however, here are a few other methods that wood stove owners like to use for cleaning glass.
Tip: Remember, if you’re going to be using water on your glass, it’s especially important that the glass is dry. Otherwise, the cooler temperature of the water could cause some types of glass to crack. Not good!
- Ash method. In a bowl, mix some ash with water to form a paste. Then, take a clean cloth, dip it in your paste, and rub your glass in a circular motion. Repeat until all of the marks are gone. Then, wipe the ash off your glass.
- Wet/damp newspaper method. Many people swear by using newspaper to get your glass clean. Dampen your newspaper in clean water and rub in a circular motion. For extra cleaning power, you can also dip your newspaper in ash as a mild abrasive. When you’re finished, wipe the surface with a clean paper towel.
- Soapy water method. Sometimes all you need is a bowl of warm soapy water and a rag to cut through the soot. Just dip your rag in the water and rub the soot off! This can also be a good start if you have a lot of soot build up. Then, switch to the ash method or the Rutland Glass Cleaner after you have most of it off.
- Vinegar method. Vinegar is another natural method for cleaning your glass (and cleaning almost anything, for that matter!). Just mix some vinegar and water in a spray bottle, spray it on, and wipe clean with a rag or paper towel.
Top Tips for Cleaning Wood Stove Glass
- Avoid using coal ashes. If you burn coal, you won’t want to use these ashes as an abrasive for cleaning your glass. Stick to wood ashes, as coal can cause scratches on the glass. In fact, anything abrasive can scratch your glass. Stick to soft rags and paper towels!
- Steer clear of Windex. Windex and some other cleaners contain ammonia. These can cause harmful fumes, so avoid ammonia-based products!
- Clean your glass regularly. If you clean your glass regularly (each time you empty your ash box or bucket works well), there will be much less buildup and cleaning will be way easier!
- Burn dry wood. Burning dry, seasoned hardwoods will help to avoid creosote buildup.
How Often Should You Clean Your Wood Stove Glass?
As often as needed. We empty our fireplace ashes into a metal bucket about once a week and find that this is a good time to clean the glass, too. The stove is cooled and we can sweep the excess ashes away before doing a 5-minute glass cleaning.
Although it’s a simple task, it’s easy to push off. But it’s so satisfying to sit in front of a clean fireplace and watch the flames burn clearly through the glass!
How often you need to clean your wood stove glass will depend on how often you use your stove and how clean it’s burning. If you stay on top of this task, it will be much easier to do next time! It truly takes us 5 minutes or less each week since there’s not very much buildup in between. In the long run, it helps keep the glass consistently clean so we never have to do an in-depth scrubbing.
Enjoy Your Wood Stove!
Although the main reason we installed our wood stove was to save on propane and heat our house in the colder months, we’ve come to love it for so many more reasons!
The camaraderie of family wood stacking, the cozy evenings in front of it with a good book, and even the benefits of composting the ashes have made us wonder how we ever lived without it! And it produces so much heat – there’s nothing like walking around the house in bare feet and a t-shirt even in the winter!