You love your enclosed fireplace. It is a safe and effective source of radiant heat for your family and the beautiful focal point that everyone gathers around.
But how do you keep it beautiful when each use adds to the unsightly black residue that clings to the glass doors?
In this article, we’ll show you how to clean fireplace glass using five different methods. Each option is simple and effective to assure you spend less time scrubbing and more time enjoying the warmth and comfort your fireplace provides.
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In This Article:
How to Clean Glass Fireplace Doors
Soot and ash baked onto glass make for a sticky, stubborn mess. But that doesn’t mean cleaning fireplace glass has to be a difficult task.
With the right tools and approach, you can restore the glass doors on gas, pellet, and even wood fireplaces to their original beauty without back-breaking effort.
First things first, if you can remove your fireplace glass doors, you’ll want to.
Cleaning up that sticky black residue gets messy no matter how you approach it. By removing the doors and bringing them outside or into the garage, you can have peace of mind that none of that soot makes its way onto your carpet or furniture.
Regardless of where you choose to clean, make sure you use towels or drop cloths under the glass to keep the mess contained.
Wet Newspaper and Ash
What you’ll need:
- Ash from your fireplace
- Newspaper, cloth, or paper towels
One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to clean up soot residue is to utilize another plentiful byproduct from your fireplace.
Ash makes a surprisingly good surface cleaner. This is true whether you are scrubbing soot off your fireplace or polishing up antique furniture.
To apply this age-old method to clean up your fireplace glass, simply:
- Wet a cloth or piece of newspaper
- Dab it in ash, and start scrubbing in a circular motion.
- It may take a few passes to completely remove the soot residue, but you should quickly notice a difference.
How Does It Work?
Why ash works so well as a glass cleaner likely has to do with both its makeup and texture.
Ash is naturally abrasive, which means it works away at layers of sticky soot similar to how a Brillo pad would. But, because it isn’t hard enough to scratch the glass itself, it has more of a buffering effect, further increasing the shine of the final product.
Additionally, ash is what is used to create lye–a caustic and powerful cleaning solution. Mixing raw ash with water gives you a weaker version of this alkali cleaner that is safer but still effective.
This cleaning method is most appropriate for wood fireplaces given the high degree of residue typically found on the glass and the natural availability of ash. The ash from pellet stoves is also effective for cleaning purposes.
To learn more about the differences between these two kinds of units check out our wood vs pellet stove comparison guide.
Wear a mask to avoid inhaling ash. It is advisable to use an N95 mask because it can effectively filter tiny particles.
Make a Vinegar Solution
What you’ll need:
- Optional: ammonia, corn starch, rubbing alcohol
Vinegar is another cheap cleaner that most homeowners have on hand. It works well to cut through soot residue but may take a few passes to achieve that original shine on truly dirty glass doors.
Vinegar can be used by itself, diluted with water, or mixed with some additional products to up its cleaning power.
One cup of vinegar, three cups of warm water, and one tablespoon of ammonia mixed in a spray bottle is a very effective fireplace glass cleaner. Allow the solution to sit on the glass for at least 30 seconds before scrubbing.
One-quarter cup vinegar mixed with two cups of water and one tablespoon of cornstarch creates a powerful cleaner with an abrasive texture to cut through thick soot residue. For an even more powerful clean, try adding a quarter-cup of rubbing alcohol to the mix.
Using a vinegar solution is safe and effective. However, don’t let it get in contact with your eyes and skin. Don’t mix vinegar with other cleaning products like bleach because the mixture can produce toxic chlorine gas.
What you’ll need:
- Magic eraser sponge
For routine cleaning and removing that last stubborn layer of black residue, magic eraser sponges work surprisingly well. They are an especially great option for glass doors that can’t be removed since they don’t create a lot of mess or splatter.
Because fireplace soot tends to require multiple passes to fully remove, we recommend using a heavy-duty brand like Oh My Clean’s extra-durable eraser sponge. Use the Magic Eraser like a regular sponge.
Magic erasers are generally safe. To keep your hands clean, you can wear gloves.
What you’ll need:
- Razor blade
Have an especially thick layer of grime on your fireplace doors? Starting with a razor blade is going to be your best bet to make quick progress.
Hold the blade at a forty-five-degree angle and push it along the surface to peel up the black residue. Be careful not to press too hard so you don’t scratch the glass itself.
Focus on taking off just the top thickest layers of soot. Once most of the residue has been removed, switch to one of the other methods mentioned here to remove the remaining discoloration.
Razor blades are sharp. If possible, wear safety work gloves. Ordinary cleaning gloves provide little protection against cuts because its nylon material is relatively thinner than work gloves and garden gloves.
Try A Commercial Cleaner
What you’ll need:
- Oven Cleaner / Fireplace Glass Cleaner
- Cloth / Sponge
If you are looking for a go-to cleaner that doesn’t require extra prep to put together, a commercial product is going to be your best option.
Many oven cleaners are also effective in removing grime from fireplace glass. Easy-Off Professional Oven and Grill Cleaner is great to have on hand for removing grease and soot on any surface.
Before applying the oven cleaner, make sure the fireplace glass doors are cool. Spray the cleaner on the glass, and let it sit for at least 30 seconds. Then, use a damp cloth or sponge to clean.
There are also many fireplace-specific products on the market worth considering.
In terms of ease-of-use and effectiveness, we really like Rutland White-Off fireplace glass cleaner. This cleaner is specially formulated to remove the white residue that tends to form on gas fireplace doors. It is also effective for cleaning glass cooktops.
Just like using an oven cleaner, let the glass door cool down before spraying the fireplace glass cleaner on the surface. Grab a paper towel or cloth and rub vigorously on the sprayed area. Wipe the glass door clean with a new and clean cloth.
Don’t mix different cleaners together as it may lead to a strong chemical reaction. As much as possible, follow the cleaning directions as recommended by the manufacturer.
A Final Note on Keeping Fireplace Glass Clean
Whether you use a homemade solution of ash or vinegar, scrub away the soot with a razor blade or eraser sponge, or opt for a commercial product like Easy-Off Professional or Rutland White-Off, regular cleaning of your fireplace glass is a must.
Gas fireplace doors typically only need to be cleaned about twice a year while wood and pellet stoves require more frequent cleaning depending on use.
If you do use your fireplace frequently but hate the task of cleaning it, you may want to consider upgrading to an electric fireplace. These units are safe and simple to use and require almost no maintenance to keep them looking beautiful.
As always, let us know if you have any questions about fireplace glass cleaning by posting in the comments section below.