best wood burning stove

How to Clean a Wood Burning Stove

Owning a wood burning stove can be incredibly rewarding. Not only do you get to enjoy the warmth of the crackling fire, but you also save a considerable amount on your heating bills. Even if you’ve installed the best wood burning stove, your stove still requires regular maintenance and cleaning for it to remain in pristine condition. 

You can hire a professional who already knows how to clean a wood burning stove, but if you want to save some money and have learned how to install a wood burning stove, you can certainly do this task yourself. 

How to Clean a Wood Burning Stove

How to Clean a Wood Burning Stove
Image by Gustavo Zambelli on Unsplash

Clean the Interior of the Stove

Begin by using a shovel and removing the ash, placing them in a metal pail. You can lightly spray the ash with water so it is easier to remove. Put a lid on the pail and take your ashes outside. If your wood stove has an ashtray and ash box, empty those. You can leave a bit of the ash, but at least once a year you should completely remove it to inspect the firebox. 

Now that your stove is free of ash, use a flashlight to inspect the firebox, flue, and chimney. You should be looking to see if there is any creosote (essentially tar given off by burning wood) or glazing. If there is a layer more than ⅛ of an inch thick, then you will need to clean your stovepipe. 

Clean the Stovepipe 

Your stovepipe should be cleaned once a year or whenever the creosote builds up. Regardless of when you clean it, you should never do it alone. Start by making sure the flue is open and the door to the stove is closed. You might want to put an old towel underneath the door just in case. 

Next, head up to the roof and remove the chimney cap. Tie one end of a rope to the handle of your chimney brush and the other to the base of the stove pipe. This will allow you to pull the brush back up if it falls out of your hand while you are cleaning. 

Start to scrub the topmost part of the inside of the pipe, being sure to twist and move the brush up and down. As you move down the chimney pipe, you will need to add extension rods to the end of your brush. Once you reach the flue, stop. Use the chimney brush to brush off the vents of your spark box if you have one, then replace the chimney cap. 

Leave the roof and return to the stove. If you have a damper above your smoke shelf, clean that, then vacuum up the remaining debris from the firebox.  If you don’t have a vacuum, there are plenty of inexpensive vacuums that can help you get the job done.

Clean the Exterior of the Stove

The outside of your stove will also require some cleaning too. Generally, you can simply use a vacuum cleaner with a soft bristol attachment or a soft cloth to remove any debris or dust. Take care to never use a rough-surfaced object because it can permanently scratch and ruin the surface of your stove. A wet or moist cloth should also never be used as it can cause your stove to rust. 

Cleaning the Glass Door 

You have a couple of options when it comes to cleaning the glass door of your fireplace. A small piece of cold charcoal from your stove may be used. For this method, simply dampen the charcoal with water and rub it over the glass. The residue from the fire should disappear. Simply rub with a paper towel to finish the job. Eliminate waste by using the paper towel as a firestarter for your next fire. 

If you opt for a different method, you can use ash from your stove to clean the glass. To do this, dip a piece of newspaper, cloth, or paper towel in water. Next, dip it in some ashes and use this to clean your glass, and voila! Your glass will look as good as new. 


Image by EJ Strat on Unsplash

Learning how to clean a wood burning stove takes time and effort, but it is a rewarding skill to have. By cleaning your stove, you extend its lifetime and ensure many more years of wonderful memories around the fire. 

Written by Rebecca Turner

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