It is an important step you need to take if you’re going to enjoy regular fires throughout the winter, whether you like to burn fires as an efficient way of heating your home or whether you just like the cozy ambiance the fire gives off.
Before the season of cold weather arrived, you followed the proper checklist of getting your chimney inspected and cleaned so that everything is in working order. That’s an important part of being responsible and staying safe.
But it’s also important to keep your fireplace clean throughout the season for aesthetic purposes. After all, nobody wants to be staring at a dirty fireplace when they’re curling up in front of it. For those of you with glass doors on your fireplace, you know all too well how dirty the glass can get — after several hours of combustion behind them, the glass doors get covered in soot and other buildups that can be a fire hazard as well as a real eyesore.
But cleaning that fireplace glass is a lot easier than you might expect. Plus, it’s something you can DIY without the assistance of a professional.
Create a schedule for cleaning the glass.
First, figure out how often you need to clean your glass. If you have a gas fireplace, you will still need to clean your glass doors the same as you would with a wood-burning fireplace or a pellet stove, but you probably need to do it only twice a year. On the other hand, a wood-burning fireplace or a pellet stove might need to have glass doors cleaned every month or every week depending on how frequently you’re burning fires.
It’s important to note that on your designated cleaning day, you should make sure your glass doors are appropriately cooled down. Don’t try to clean them right after burning a fire. Wait until at least a day has passed. If the air inside your fireplace is still too warm, the temperature difference between your cleaning solution and the heat inside the fireplace will leave streaks along the glass. (Think of the streaks you get when you wash your windows on a hot, sunny day.)
Create the right cleaning solution.
You can create a cleaning solution in one of several ways. It’s best to avoid commercial cleaners, as these are full of chemicals that you don’t want to expose to the heat — any residue left on the glass the next time you build a fire could combust or send out toxic fumes into your home.
Instead, make your own solution with ash you’ve collected from inside the fireplace — yes, seriously. Take a scoop of the ash from inside your fireplace and mix it with equal parts water and white vinegar until it forms a thick paste.
The other option (if you don’t want to work with ash, or if you’ve already scooped all your ash out of the fireplace) is to mix 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water with a splash of ammonia. This will also make a suitable glass cleaning solution.
Put down towels under the door.
Ideally, the glass doors to your fireplace are removable and can be taken outside for cleaning. If that’s not the case with the fireplace in your living room, simply put down towels under the door so that any grime or cleaning solution that comes off the glass doesn’t end up on your floor.
Start with a razor blade if necessary.
Sometimes, the grime on your fireplace glass is so thick that you need to start with a razor blade. Carefully hold your blade at a 45-degree angle pointed away from you and push along the surface of the buildup. Once you’ve penetrated the black residue, get the blade under it and lift it up. Be careful not to scratch the glass with the blade.
Apply your cleaner and wipe.
If you’re using a paste made from ash, you can apply this cleaner using a brush and rub gently in a circular motion until you’ve covered the entire surface of the glass. If you’re using a vinegar-ammonia solution, spritz some of the solution onto the glass or simply dampen a cloth and start wiping away.
Wipe up with a wet cloth.
After you’ve scrubbed the glass with your cleaning solution, the last step is to wipe the entire glass down with a wet cloth, one that’s dampened simply with water. This will give you a chance to remove any cleaning solution that’s on the glass. Afterward, allow the glass to air-dry. You now have a sparkling clean glass cover for your fireplace.