Pro Tip: When you have a wood burning stove, the best gloves to own are gauntlet style leather welder’s glove. While these gloves are too bulky and heavy for cleaning, they are ideal for stirring the fire and putting new logs into a hot firebox. They are available at welder supply houses, and many hardware stores. They will last a lifetime!
How to Clean Your Wood Burning Stove
by Damien Andrews
Things you’ll need:
Drop cloth – for in front of the wood burning stove during cleaning
Paper towels or old newspapers (if you have a glass front to clean)
Small ash shovel
Wide putty knife/scraper
Vinegar and water solution (2 parts water/1 part vinegar)
A small brush (A cheap disposable paint brush works fine and can be used many times before it needs to be thrown away.)
Fireproof ash can or container
Here's a photo showing all of the equipment you'll need to perform a thorough cleaning of your wood burning stove. Since the floor under my stove is concrete, I have not included a drop cloth. Be sure to have the spray bottle of vinegar and water set for fine spray, as you don't want too much liquid on the glass when you clean it. You need the abrasive action of your paper towel or newspaper.
*A very nice optional piece of equipment for cleaning your wood burning stove is a fireplace vacuum, also called an ash vacuum. A properly filtered shop vacuum will also work, but should be cleaned (and a different filter used) after you use it to clean your wood burning stove.
*If your ashes are completely cold, you can also use a shop vacuum. Some models come with special filter bags that augment the regular filtration system. These bags are designed for use when vacuuming very fine materials such as drywall dust and ashes. Another alternative is to have a special filter that you install and use only when vacuuming ashes. The filter can be cleaned by tapping it and the using compressed air – while wearing a dust mask and goggles.
The use of wood burning stoves for heat is becoming more and more popular. And many people who decide to install and use a wood burning stove also find that doing some of the cooking chores on them works very well, and saves more energy. Today’s wood burning stoves are quiet, clean and efficient systems that can heat an entire house, or nicely supplement an existing heating system. Wood burning stoves are also quite charming and attractive – and start many a conversation. You can get a cast iron pot belly stove for a few hundred dollars, or spend many thousands of dollars on a large, porcelain coated, ornate wood burning stove with gold and brass trim. No matter which way you go, you’ll need to clean the stove to maximize efficiency and keep the house clean.
There are three levels of cleaning your wood burning stove:
Regular cleaning. This is done frequently.
Thorough cleaning. The frequency of this level of cleaning depends on use and your personal preferences for cleanliness.
Annual cleaning. This once-a-year cleaning of your wood burning stove includes the inside of the chimney, removal of fireproof bricks, rust removal, and so forth.
In this how-to article, we’ll go through levels one and two. Level two is actually an extension or continuation of level one. Some of the elements in level two cleaning can be added to your regular cleaning protocol, if you choose. Some people, for example, always like to clean the glass front on their wood burning stove. This is not a part of regular cleaning and will not affect the efficiency of your wood burning stove, but can make watching the dancing flames in the stove more enjoyable.