Last updated on November 24th, 2021
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If you have a wood-burning or multi-fuel stove you will quickly realise that it is easier to keep the glass clean by cleaning it regularly. However, if you burn your fuel efficiently then you should not need to clean your glass too often.
From experience, there are two ways that are very effective at cleaning the glass on a stove, one includes using ash from the stove, this works amazingly well and I cover this process in more detail. The other is using a specially designed stove cleaner that doesn’t actually seem to be quite as effective as using ash. Both methods I cover in more detail below.
Why does the glass on my stove turn black?
Most modern stoves are now designed with a cool air flush that keeps the glass clean and this feature is very effective as it brings in cool air along with the glass. However, when the occasional log falls against the glass this is obviously going to dirty the glass and over time, your stove is still going to get black soot and dirt on the glass, no matter how efficiently you use your stove.
The most common reason for constantly getting soot baked onto your glass is not burning logs that are fully seasoned as they do not burn as efficiently. If you are not using low sulphur smokeless coal this can also cause excessive black smoke that blackens your glass.
You should always make sure that your logs have a moisture content of between 10% and 20%. If you have a moisture content of more than 20%, this is will cause more black smoke to be created that will blacken the glass. This will also cause your stove to burn less efficiently because the fire cannot burn at a high enough temperature as it needs to boil the water content in the logs first.
You can learn more about how to light a stove using the upside-down method that is incredibly effective and I think the best method to light a wood-burning stove. I take you through the process step by step.
So, the first thing I recommend (once you know how to light the stove properly and you are using seasoned wood with less than 20% moisture content) is to always leave a layer of ash at the bottom of the fire. This helps protect the stove and helps the stove burn the wood more efficiently. Most stove manufacturers would also recommend doing this too.
Before you clean the glass
This goes without saying but never try to clean the glass on a stove while it is hot, always make sure it is fully cooled down. It can also be useful to have a very hot efficient fire before cleaning it as this will burn a lot of the soot away but again, wait until the stove has cooled again.
How to clean the stove glass with ash and newspaper
Don’t use this method with coal ash as it can scratch the glass, only use wood ashes.
First of all, you need to get some warm soapy water, a cloth, newspaper and a little bit of ash from the stove in a bowl.
First, brush or vacuum any loose ash from around the door and the edge of the glass.
Now use the warm soapy water and a cloth to attempt to clean the glass, this should make it a lot cleaner but will probably leave the heavily blackened soot on the glass. In the picture above you can see the black soot around the edge of the window that the soap and water couldn’t remove.
Next, get some newspaper and scrunch it up into a ball and dip it into the soapy water, and then into the bowl of ash.
Now use the paper with the ash on to do a circular motion on the glass until the glass is looking clean.
You may have to do this a couple of times on glass that is very heavily blackened, but you will be amazed at how effective this method is. The ash will act as an abrasive and remove the soot. I have used a few specialist stove cleaners and none have been as effective as using ash.
Please note that you should not use ash from coal fires as this can have hard bits that could scratch your glass.
Give it one last wipe down with the cloth and soap water. You may want to give it one last wipe down with a clean cloth and it should come up like new.
On the outside of the window, you can just use a general glass or window cleaner.
How to clean with specialist ceramic glass cleaner for stoves
All you need to clean your stove is some newspaper or a rag, a damp cloth, and some glass stove cleaner. First off, vacuum around the stove door and glass before starting, just to make the job easier.
To begin with, remove any easy-to-shift deposits from the glass by using a piece of screwed-up newspaper.
Next, apply a small amount of stove glass cleaner to the cloth and wipe the glass in a circular motion until it starts to come up clean. This will take a little elbow grease. You may have to do this several times and apply more glass cleaner to the cloth as you polish.
Wipe the glass down with a damp cloth and it should come up like new.
How to keep the glass clean on your wood burning stove
Most people when they first get a wood-burning or multi-fuel stove make all the wrong mistakes that lead to blackening glass.
As previously mentioned, the main cause of blackened glass is if your fire is not burning efficiently. In most cases, this is because you are burning logs that are not seasoned and have a moisture content that is too high.
Remember to always check the moisture content of your logs using a moisture meter, I have reviewed some reliable moisture meters here. It should be less than 20%, ideally 15%-20%.
I even have some tips if you don’t have a moisture meter to hand.
Finally, if you are burning coal, only use low sulphur smokeless coal and if you buy logs, buy only kiln-dried logs or learn how to season your own if you have cheap access to logs as I do.
Finally, it is much easier to clean your stove on a regular basis rather than to try and remove heavily blackened soot from the glass once a year because you didn’t keep on top of cleaning the glass.
If you are interested in making your stove more efficient, consider investing in a stove fan. I review my favourite stove fan here.
Finally, read why I use the Vonhaus Ash vacuum in this review to make cleaning your stove much easier.