Fireplaces / October 16, 2018 / Ellen Lombardi.
First of all, you have to understand what you’re cleaning. It’s not regular glass; glass would explode at fireplace temperatures. It’s either some kind of tempered safety glass or, more likely, a transparent ceramic material. That’s why regular window cleaners don’t work very well.
Next, you have to know what you’re cleaning off. Wood fires produce creosote and soot, which forms a sticky black residue. Gas fires produce a whitish haze, which a made of mineral deposits from water condensation. Each requires a different cleaning method and product.
1. The first rule of fireplace glass cleaners: follow manufacturer’s directions.
The best approach to cleaning fireplace glass is to follow the directions that came with your stove. It is especially true if your fireplace glass is under warranty; using alternate methods or cleaners will probably invalidate your warranty. If you don’t have the manufacturer’s directions, you may be able to obtain them by checking the internet or writing or calling the manufacturer.
2. The second rule of fireplace glass cleaners: be safe.
Never clean fireplace glass when it’s hot. Always use gloves. You may also want goggles and a mask. If you’re using a commercial product, read the instructions and see what safety precautions they suggest. You can request an MSDS (Material Data Safety Sheet) from the manufacturer that lists any hazards and what protective gear to use.
3. Cleaning creosote.
Creosote is a thick, sticky, tarry substance that builds up on surfaces when wood a burned. The easiest way to get rid of creosote is to burn it off. Build a fire using dry wood. The temperature inside the stove needs to be 900-1200 degrees Fahrenheit to burn off the creosote, and wet or green wood won’t burn that hot.
After the glass has completely cooled, some people recommend scraping the creosote off with a razor blade. It could scratch the glass, however, so using plastic or Teflon putty knife might work better.
Then you have to scrub off what’s left. A commercial fireplace glass cleaner that’s designed to remove soot and creosote is probably your best bet. There are, however, several other options that some people swear by:
- Scrub the glass with damp newspaper dipped in ashes.
- Use a little dishwashing detergent in water. One of the new “power” detergents might work better than the regular ones.
- Orange-based cleaners.
- Oven cleaner.
Don’t use abrasive cleaners or pads that might scratch the glass. You can’t burn mineral deposits off, and you can’t scrape them off with a Teflon putty knife, either. Some people recommend scraping them off with a razor blade, but that may scratch the glass.
Again, a commercial fireplace glass cleaner formulated to remove mineral deposits or “white residue” is probably going to be more effective than homemade remedies. However, here are the homemade options:
- Vinegar in water.
- Scrub gently with baking soda or salt
- Oven cleaner.
Don’t use anything abrasive.
The best way to clean your fireplace glass is to use a commercial fireplace glass cleaner. When you use the right filter, it takes less effort, and you get better results. Many people are happy with their homemade solutions, though, and you can get satisfactory results with them. They work better if you clean the glass frequently.
Dirty fireplace glass blocks both heat and light, so it makes your fireplace less effective, and you lose the beauty of having a fire. Choose a cleaning method that works for you, and clean the glass several times a year to keep your fireplace functioning at its best.