How to Clean Wood Stove Glass & Keep It from Getting Black

You want to see your fire, but your wood stove glass keeps getting dirty. Learn how to clean wood stove glass and how to keep it clean.

A wood burning stove with a clean glass front.

Nobody wants a dirty, blackened wood stove glass. Keeping the glass of your wood stove clean can be a challenge, especially when the temperatures start to drop and the fires start burning. Don’t let your wood stove glass become a soot-filled mess.

This post will discuss some simple tips and tricks to keep your wood stove glass clean and sparkly all winter. Let’s unlock the secrets to a gleaming wood stove glass that enhances the ambiance of your home.

Start with the Basics: Why Does Wood Stove Glass Get Dirty? 

Creosote, the black buildup on your wood stove’s glass and interior, happens whenever you burn wood. Contrary to old wives’ tales, pine isn’t more prone to creosote buildup than any other unseasoned wood, which brings us to the first reason why your wood stove glass is getting dirty…

Your Wood Isn’t Properly Seasoned

Unseasoned wood is the primary culprit when it comes to black glass. When burning unseasoned (aka green) wood, the energy evaporates the wood’s moisture rather than burning the wood. This creates excessive smoke, which then settles on the stove glass. You can find out the recommended seasoning times for various types of wood, as well as which species of hardwood or softwood may be right for you, in The Best Firewood for Your Wood Stove or Fireplace. Well-seasoned wood will go a long way to keeping your wood stove glass clean.

You’re Not Burning Hot Enough

Fun fact: Wood itself does not burn; instead, the combustible gases released from the wood when heated burn. If you watch closely, you’ll see little flaming jets of gas form on the ends of logs. To create this combustion, your stove needs to run at least 1,100°F. Any less and the gases will be released, but not burned. This is called smoldering. Smoldering fires cause creosote buildup. A stove thermometer will ensure that you’re burning at the right temperatures. A hot fire will keep your glass clean.

You Have a Poor Draft

Wood may smolder if your wood stove has a poor draft. Starting a cold wood stove with a hot, fast fire will get the draft going quickly. Kindling is a great way to get a hot, fast fire. A very cold chimney can create a cold bubble that blocks the flue and the draft. To preheat the flue, you can use common household products such as a hair dryer, a large three-wick candle, a heat gun, or a handheld propane torch. Place the heating element up the flue for a minute or two, and that can create enough heat to establish a draft. A good draft will keep your glass doors clean.

You’re Removing Too Much Ash

Ash helps to insulate your fire, and it retains a lot of heat. This means your fire will light quicker as the heat gets distributed to other logs. Your fire will also burn hotter right from the start. A nice layer of ash allows your stove to burn cleaner overall. You should aim to leave approximately 1 inch of ash in your stove.

Air Is Flowing Into the Stove Somewhere It Shouldn’t Be

Most wood stoves have an air wash designed into them. An air wash is a specially placed vent that draws in cool air from the room; the air is then heated and ducted to ‘wash’ over the inside of the glass. The rest of the stove needs to be tight for the air wash to function. The stove part that usually fails in this respect is around the door. To check your seal around the door, you can do what is called The Dollar Bill Test. Take a dollar bill and close it in the door. If it stays in tight, your gasket is tight. If it pulls out easily, your gasket isn’t tight enough and may need to be replaced.

Black buildup on a wood stove's glass door.

How to Clean Wood Stove Glass

Wood Ashes & Newspaper

This is my favorite way to clean wood stove glass because it’s free, and the supplies are naturally located next to it. All you’re missing is a bowl of warm soapy water.

Take a sheet of newspaper and crumple it into a ball. Dip the ball of newspaper into the soapy water and then into the ash at the bottom of your stove. If the soapy water isn’t doing the job, add a glug of vinegar. Gently scrub the glass in circular motions with your ashy newspaper ball until the glass is clean. Wipe off any remaining residue with a paper towel and use that paper towel to start your next fire.

Baking Soda Paste

If you don’t have wood ash, you can use baking soda in its place. Make a paste of dish soap, baking soda, and water. Apply the mixture with a paper towel or crumpled sheet of newspaper. Scrub the glass in circular motions until the glass is clean. Wipe off any remaining residue with a clean paper towel.

Razor Blades

This one is controversial and should only be used as a last-ditch effort to clean your stove’s glass. There is a great risk of scratching or nicking the glass. Very carefully, with a cold stove, gently scrape off the residue on your woodstove glass. Keep the razor blade flat against the glass at all times and work slowly.

Commercial Wood Stove Glass Cleaner

I’ve been told that Quick N Brite Fireplace Glass Cleaner works great to remove unwanted creosote, smoke residue, soot, ash, dust, and carbon deposits from glass. I haven’t tried it yet myself. The kit has the spray, a sponge, and a microfiber cloth. For $16, it may be worth trying.

Keeping wood stove glass clean is easier than you think. With the right cleaning products and preventive maintenance, you can keep your wood stove glass clear and bright all winter. Taking simple steps to prevent dirt and soot from accumulating will save you time and energy in the long run. 

A pinterest-friendly graphic for how to clean your wood stove glass and how to prevent it from getting black.

Armed with the right cleaning products and a bit of preventive TLC, you can ensure that your wood stove glass remains a portal to cozy evenings throughout the winter. Embracing these straightforward measures not only preserves the aesthetic charm of your wood stove but also transforms maintenance into a breeze.

Revel in a winter where the only thing clouding your view of your fire is the steam rising from your favorite cup of cocoa. Keeping it clear, keeping it cozy—winter nights have never looked better.

What’s your tried-and-true method for keeping your wood stove glass pristine? Whether it’s a DIY cleaning concoction or a preventative trick passed down through generations, share your wisdom in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

One Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    I can pull the mouse out let alone one dollar bill