The whole point of having a fireplace is being able to see the fire while it burns. If it’s been a while since you have been able to actually enjoy the fire, it’s time to clean. I’ll show you how to clean fireplace glass, the methods that have worked for me (and some that haven’t), and I’ll make sure you are aware of some very expensive and dangerous mistakes you could make when cleaning fireplace glass.
How to Clean Fireplace Glass
To clean fireplace glass efficiently requires white distilled vinegar. Wear a cleaning glove to avoid the vinegar smell, dip a paper towel in undiluted vinegar, and clean the glass in a circular motion. Let the vinegar dissolve the gray and black residue. Finally, wipe with a clean, dry paper towel.
Understanding the Fireplace
Before we get into the different methods of fireplace glass cleaning, I think it’s important to understand a few things about the fireplace’s glass and how it can differ depending on the type of fireplace you have.
- There are two types of fireplace glass, those enclosing a wood burning fireplace and those enclosing a gas fireplace.
- Wood stove glass and wood burning fireplaces will follow the same cleaning process
- Gas fireplaces require a different process, and a regular ammonia based glass cleaner can be dangerous and advisable to avoid using.
Why is the Glass in My Gas Fireplace Foggy?
The reason your gas fireplace gets foggy is because of the minerals in the fuel. As your fuel (gas) burns, it can deposit things like sulfur and calcium onto the glass. Eventually, and especially without cleaning, these deposits will become permanent.
Remember that your gas fireplace is also vented, so there are minerals in the air that are entering the fire, even with the glass doors closed. Without using a glass cleaner regularly, these deposits will stay in place.
Preparation for Cleaning Fireplace Glass
I won’t bore you with a million steps you need to take before cleaning your fireplace glass. If you own a fireplace and use it, these steps should be pretty self explanatory.
- Allow the glass to cool completely before starting
- Open the glass doors and let them sit for a few minutes before you start working
- Use a microfiber cloth, paper towels, or in some cases, newspaper to help you scrub, but remember you are dealing with glass, and you can scratch it if not careful.
- I would put a drop cloth down under the glass doors, as most methods require a vinegar solution, and you may not want that dripping off the doors.
What is the Best Way to Clean Gas Fireplace Glass?
Let’s start with gas fireplace glass, and then we will move to wood fireplace glass. I know this goes without saying, but let’s treat this glass carefully; I would rather look through a little gray film than look through a completely scratched fireplace glass.
- Turn off the gas to your fireplace. Never try to work on your gas fireplace doors while the gas is still on.
- Let the glass cool. I like to clean on a day when I haven’t had a fire, I don’t need to worry about the doors being cooled down, and I can just get to work.
- Take white distilled vinegar and place it in a spray bottle; you do not need to dilute it.
- Grab a roll of clean paper towel, spray some vinegar on the door, and then work in circular motions with the paper towel to scrub and clean.
- Take a dry paper towel and wipe the glass cleaner off.
- Repeat if necessary.
I like to work in small sections here; it becomes easier to focus on really getting the glass clear.
What is the Best Cleaner for Gas Fireplace Glass?
If a commercial based cleaning solution is a better option for you, I recommend Rutland White Off. It’s cream-based, so there’s no dripping, and has never failed me!
- Place a small amount of the Rutland White Off Cleaning cream onto a paper towel or cleaning cloth.
- Work in circular motions to remove the residue.
- This is not an ammonia-based cleaning solution, so you can use more of it if you need to when working on tough areas.
- Wipe off completely with a dry microfiber cloth or paper towel.
Do You Have to Clean the Glass on a Gas Fireplace?
Cleaning is almost always a personal choice, but if you are not cleaning your fireplace glass, you better be saving up to replace it! When you don’t clean the mineral deposits, they become permanent and even etched into the glass.
The only recourse you will have is to completely replace the glass. Make it a point to clean glass on a regular basis to preserve your fireplace.
Will Windex Clean Fireplace Glass?
Windex is not recommended for use on fireplace glass. The ammonia-based solution can cause damage to the glass. Some of the cleaning solutions can remain on the glass, and when it is heated, it has the potential to create irreversible damage. Use a vinegar solution instead of Windex.
How To Clean Wood Burning Fireplace Glass
Wood burning fireplace glass is a little different than gas fireplace glass. With the way the fire burns in the wood burning fireplace, you get a lot more dirt and debris on the glass, in addition to the mineral deposits.
The only thing to be careful of here is to ensure your wood stove or wood fireplace has cooled before you start cleaning.
Vinegar, Newspaper, and Leftover Ashes
I know this method may seem a little unorthodox, but it is actually the way my parents would clean our glass fireplace doors when I was a kid. Why does this matter to you? The method works, and it’s been around for a long time!
The ash from the fireplace adds a little grit to your cleaning, but it doesn’t scratch the glass.
- Gather a newspaper (preferably black and white only), a small bowl, and a little vinegar, and put a drop cloth under the fireplace’s glass.
- Take a sheet of newspaper and crumple it, dip the newspaper into a little vinegar, and then into the leftover ashes in your fireplace.
- Use a circular motion to clean the fireplace glass, the same way you would with a regular glass cleaner.
- When finished, wipe the glass carefully with paper towels.
Quick N Brite Fireplace Glass Cleaner
Admittedly dipping newspaper in vinegar and ash gets a little messy, and it’s not for everyone. If a simple commercial solution works better for you, I recommend the Quick N Brite Fireplace Cleaner. Remember, only use this cleaner when the glass is cool.
- Spray the Quick N Brite Fireplace Glass Cleaner directly onto your glass.
- Use a rag to wipe the cleaner, scrubbing in a circular motion to remove creosote, smoke residue, dust, and carbon deposits.
- Wipe dry with a microfiber cloth when complete.
Don’t just take my word for it; the Quick N Brite also has really great reviews on Amazon for a quick solution on the mildly soiled glass. However, if you have NEVER cleaned your glass fireplace, you will likely need something a bit more advanced, like my DIY method above.
Continued Maintenance for Fireplace Glass
To avoid a major project every time you need to clean your fireplace glass and to reduce the risk of long-term damage, try these basic tips.
- Clean the fireplace glass once per week when you are in fire season; when not using the fireplace, once every other month may be all that you need to get the dust and dirt off.
- Think about the correct wood to burn in your wood burning fireplace; kiln-dried firewood burns cleanly and won’t leave as much soot. Also, I like to use oak, hickory, or cherry when available.
- In a wood burning stove, place the fireplace close to the glass doors; this placement minimizes the chance of a smoke stain because there is a smaller chance of the doors cooling down.
- Build a large fire so your fuel burns through quickly and is not left smoldering and staining the glass.
When to Clean the Fireplace
If you are noticing that your fireplace glass looks foggy, almost like auto glass, on a day when the temperatures in your car don’t match the temperatures outside, it’s probably time to clean the glass.
To make things easier on myself, I clean the fireplace glass once a week when it’s cold out, and we are doing more frequent fires. I just wipe it down in the summer months every other month to ensure it’s not dusty.
The longer you wait to clean fireplace glass doors, the more work it is for you when it comes to the elbow grease you are going to need to put in!
Common Mistakes to Avoid
I would hate to see you ruin a new fireplace or create damage when cleaning the glass of your fireplace, so pay close attention to these mistakes I have both seen, made myself, or heard about.
- Harsh and abrasive cleaners can scratch or break down your glass over time; sticking to natural methods like wet newspaper, vinegar, and mild cleaners are your best bet.
- Never clean glass when it is hot; you risk damaging the glass and also hurting yourself.
- Don’t use ammonia-based cleaners, as they can create stains and marks on the glass that are not easily removed.
- A razor blade may be needed at times, but without the proper amount of caution, it could scratch your glass.
Don’t skip the weekly clean, it’s great to enjoy a roaring fire, but cleaning soot is the price you pay for this. It needs to be a part of your routine.