How to Clean A Wood Burner: Glass & Outside

The very mention of a wood burning stove conjures up an idyllic scene in the minds of many people. They picture a cold day; the snow is whirling around outside and the wind is rattling against the windows. Inside, the hypnotic orange flames of the friendly wood burner flicker through the glass and gently warm the room as they snuggle luxuriously under a blanket with a mug of something hot.

The reality is a little different. True, a wood burning stove is a lovely alternative to modern central heating but it does not come without its trials. Wood burning stoves can become extremely dirty, very quickly, as anyone who lives with one knows. It’s impossible to watch the flames dance when the glass is blackened with soot and ashy residue can quickly build up in and around the stove. Cleaning and maintenance can become an almost daily chore in the long winter months.

The good news is that both the glass and the outside of the stove are relatively easy to clean, if you buy the correct kit and tackle it regularly.

Dirtbusters Stove Care Kit (glass cleaner, polish & stove cleaner)

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The simplest solution is to buy a complete stove cleaning kit. Dirtbusters Stove Care Kit has all the products you need to keep a wood burning stove in tip-top condition; this pack comes with stove cleaner, polish, and glass cleaner.

Note of caution: never attempt to clean your wood stove while the fire is lit inside it; always make sure it is cool enough to touch comfortable before you begin.

How To Clean The Glass On Your Wood Burner

The glass door of your wood burner is likely to be the part which needs most frequent cleaning; it starts to blacken almost every time you burn something. This is especially annoying if you enjoy watching the fire as a dirty glass door makes it impossible to see the flames.

Why Does The Glass Get Dirty?

Before resigning yourself to cleaning the glass every time you use the stove, it’s worth taking a moment to understand how and why it gets so dirty. The blackening you see is soot which naturally builds up each time you burn wood. While some residue and soot is normal, if your glass is regularly getting black it then you might have a problem with unseasoned or improperly seasoned wood or an inadequate airflow system, so it’s worth checking these out if you think the problem is excessive.

How to Clean the Glass Door

Method #1: Paper and Ash

Surprisingly, the simplest way to clean your glass door is completely free and doesn’t require any extra products at all, just an old newspaper or paper towel and the ashy residue your stove produces.

Wipe away loose ash and dirt before you begin. Dip a wet paper towel or piece of damp newspaper in some cold ash and rub it on the inside of the glass. The abrasive ash will clean up the soot and should leave the glass looking clear. Repeat the process if needed.

This method is extremely effective and wood ashes should be soft enough to do the job without any damage to the glass. However, if you are worried about the scratches then you might feel more comfortable using a stove glass cleaner.

Method #2: Dirtbusters Glass Cleaner

Dirtbusters Stove Glass Cleaner

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Dirtbusters glass cleaner is super effective and very easy to use; it was actually designed for use by stove cleaning professionals so you know it’s the good stuff! It comes in the form of a paste which should be applied to the glass (make sure it’s cool to the touch) and left for five minutes to work its magic. If you have not cleaned the door for some time then you might need to apply some elbow grease; regular cleaning should be a lot easier and you’ll find the soot will just slide off.

One of the advantages of this paste over the more usual spray cleaners is that it does not drip off the door and make a mess around the hearth area. If you usually wait until you have time to remove the glass from the door for cleaning then this could be a game changer; it makes it really easy to clean to door panel quickly and effectively in situ.

Only a small amount is needed for a regular wipe over so this tub will last for ages. Dirtbusters Glass Cleaner comes in the stove care pack described above or can be bought alone in a 500g tub.

How To Clean The Outside Of Your Log Burning Stove

Now that the glass is looking good, it’s time to get the outside up to the same standard. However, this is slightly less straightforward. The outside of a wood burning stove needs to be cleaned with care; anything abrasive can cause the surface coating to come off, leaving messy patches of exposed metal which look terrible and are not easy to fix. A total respray will be a lot more hassle (and expense) than gentle cleaning so it’s worth doing this properly. Professional products are a must; this is not a time to try DIY solutions.

How to Clean The Outside

If you purchased the stove cleaning kit described at the start of this article then you’ll already have everything you need. If not, the cleaner and polish can be purchased separately.

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Start with the spray on stove cleaner. It’s ideal for regular cleaning and help to remove soot, ash, dust and dirt from the stove’s surfaces. Just spray on and wipe off with a sponge or soft cloth; you should find that the loose dust and dirt lifts off easily. A quick spray and wipe on a regular basis will save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

How To Polish Your Stove

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The third product in your stove cleaning pack is this handy bottle of polish. It restores colour and covers over rust or blemish patches by forming a coating which dries to a black sheen when warmed. Not only is it fantastic for restoring older stoves which have lost their colour, it is also a great product for keeping your wood burner looking its best.

Cool the stove and use the spray first, to make sure the surface is clean. Add a small amount of the polish, using a sponge. You should immediately see a difference in the appearance of the stove, although you will not be able to assess the full result until you have heated it up.

If the first application has not worked, perhaps because of rust or damage to the coating, repeat the process. However, do be aware that this polish is not a replacement for paint; if the surface of your stove is badly damaged it might need to be fully recoated.

This bottle of polish should go far if applied correctly; you really don’t need to use a lot to get a lovely finish. If rust or wear has caused an uneven surface then you might need to apply more initially but after the first time a tiny amount, applied when needed, will be more than enough to keep your wood burning stove looking really good.

How To Keep Your Stove Clean

Not only is keeping your stove clean from day to day a lot less hassle than deep cleaning it once it gets filthy, it also helps to keep it in great condition and reduces the cost of maintenance. Here are five quick and simple things you can build into your routine to help you keep your stove in tip top condition.

  1. Check your fuel. A smoky fire causes soot to build up and makes the glass look dirty very quickly. The best way to prevent this is to burn hard woods that have been well seasoned and are completely dry; they will burn cleanly and produce less smoke and soot.
  2. Vent properly. Learn how to use the air control vents on your stove. They will help you regulate the fire and, if used correctly, prevent the glass from blackening with soot.
  3. Regular maintenance. Make sure you take care of your stove; check and replace any loose parts and make sure the stove shuts tightly. Keep an eye out for the beginnings of any rust spots or scratches so you can tackle them before they become problems.
  4. Clean your chimney. Not only does this help with air flow, which keeps the glass cleaner, it is also an important safety measure. Make sure you book a chimney cleaner regularly, at least once a year.
  5. Clean it regularly. It’s really easy to miss the general build-up of fingerprints, dust and dirt until, one day, you realise it’s filthy. If you let it get to this stage then cleaning will take hours. A regular wipe over will take just a few seconds each time and make a really big difference to the long term condition of your wood burning stove.

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