How to Clean Fireplace Glass and Burn Cleaner Fires

Christine Herrington

Christine is our Chief Editor and a contributing writer to the site.

Last Updated on June 9, 2021

Fireplaces come in all shapes, sizes, and styles, from open masonry units that complement a farmhouse or rustic interior to wood-burning fireboxes with a more minimalist, contemporary look.

However, any fireplace that burns wood, coal, or kindling will often stains on the glass. When these fuels burn, they emit smoke and other fumes that lead to a buildup of dark, discolored soot on the glass. This can leave your fireplace looking unattractive, so it’s essential to learn how to clean the glass effectively.

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Table of Contents

4 Simple Methods for Cleaning Fireplace Glass

When learning how to clean fireplace glass, you must perform the steps regularly. Wipe the glass with a damp microfiber cloth or scrunched up a piece of newspaper every month or so. If you take the time to maintain the glass in the short term, you won’t have to do a deep clean to get rid of embedded soot and ash that builds up over time across the face of the fireplace.

Here, you’ll find four hacks for cleaning your fireplace glass. Whichever method you use, always ensure your fireplace is off and that you are wiping the glass in a circular motion to avoid scratches and streaks.

1. Buy a cleaning product specifically designed for fireplace glass

One of the easiest ways to clean your fireplace glass is to invest in a commercial glass cleaner, preferably one that contains silicone. There are plenty of options on the market for silicone-based sprays and soot-removal cleaners.

Silicone is a polymer, and when you spray it onto the inside of your fireplace glass, it will leave a thin protective layer that limits the future buildup of dirt and debris. Spray this cleaner onto the glass, then use a microfiber rag to wipe away the caked on soot.

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2. Use a paper towel to remove soot and ash with an ammonia and vinegar solution

If you’d rather not use a commercial solution to clear away the marks on your fireplace glass, you can combine vinegar, ammonia, and tap water to make a DIY cleaning agent. Some people find that commercial cleaners leave nasty smudges and smears on their fireplace glass. This happens when you wipe the glass in a hot room or on a summer’s day, causing the liquid to evaporate rapidly and leaving the solid part of the solution on the glass surface as a silt-like streak. You’ll only really see this effect if you use a salt-based cleaning agent.

To make the DIY solution, mix some lukewarm water, vinegar, and ammonia in a ratio of 3 cups to 1 cup to 1 tablespoon. Pour this mixture into a plastic spray bottle, then apply some of the solution to your fireplace glass. Leave the liquid to settle on the glass for between 30 to 60 seconds before using a soft cotton cloth to gently wipe the glass. You might have to spray a bit more of the solution onto the glass panel to remove all the smudges. 

3. Light a hot fire to displace the solidified soot from the glass

Sometimes you won’t clean all the stains off the glass using just a cloth and a vinegar-based or commercial solution. When you’re dealing with a long-term buildup of black soot that’s almost embedded into the glass, the best method is to burn scorching fires a few times before you try removing the stains. 

When the fire burns hot for a couple of loading cycles, it loosens the black soot. This means you’ll be able to wipe away the stains more easily when you spray a cleaning agent onto them. Make sure you’ve let the glass cool down properly before you begin cleaning it.

4. Mix some excess ash with water to make a stain-removal paste

You’ve likely never considered this unique method for how to clean fireplace glass. Another effective way of removing clumps of soot and sediment buildup is to scoop some white ash out of the fireplace base and mix it with water to create a stain-removal paste. Run a microfiber cloth under some lukewarm tap water, then dip it into the paste and scrub the fireplace glass.

Using excess ash is an effective method for a couple of reasons: it creates a slightly abrasive paste that can break down particularly stubborn soot deposits. Firewood ash also contains the chemical compound calcium carbonate, a strong base with a relatively high pH value. This alkaline substance corrodes and breaks down the acidic soot residue on the fireplace glass.

How Can You Prevent Your Fireplace Glass From Getting Dirty in the First Place?

If you don’t want to mix your own paste and put elbow grease into scrubbing away stubborn stains from your fireplace glass, you can take measures to burn cleaner fires.

Try not to use damp unseasoned wood, coal, or bits of trash or paper when you’re laying down your fire. These materials tend to give off a lot of smoke and soot when they burn. You should also avoid lighting up softwoods like birch and pine because they contain resin, a thick polymer that emits soot when it burns.

Ensure your fireplace’s built-in air vents are clean and clear. This allows a steady amount of oxygen to get to the fire, which keeps the flames burning cleanly.

Try to avoid piling up your firewood, so it touches the fireplace glass. When this wood burns in this position, it’s far more likely to stain the glass with its fumes than it would be from the back of the fireplace.

Keep Your Fireplace Well-Maintained With These Simple Tips

Whenever you invest in a fireplace, you’re looking for a permanent fixture that complements the decor of your living room, acting as a stylish centerpiece that your guests and family members admire.

However, you’ll find that the glass in the front of your fireplace becomes smeared with caked on soot and charcoal over time. If you want to keep your fireplace looking aesthetically pleasing use any of these four practical tips to clean the glass and keep your fireplace looking as good as new.

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