How to Clean a Cast Iron Wood Stove

Updated April 17, 2017

There is no secret to cleaning a cast iron wood stove. No matter the style, shape or size of your cast iron wood stove, the basic principles of cleaning still apply. Work top to bottom, left to right, and always use the proper materials for the job. Since the cast iron stove has been around and functional for well over a century, there is no need for expensive "modern" speciality cleaners.

Assemble the cleaning materials you'll need, and lay newspapers or a tarp on the floor around the cast iron wood stove.

Make sure that the wood stove is cool and the firebox is empty.

Remove any accessories, such as a water receptacle or pot hangers, before you begin cleaning. If you have a bake oven in your wood stove, remove any racks. Make sure that you have as smooth and unimpeded a surface as possible.

Use your duster and work top to bottom, left to right, finishing with the sides and base of the wood stove, to remove any dust, debris and loose residue.

Use your wire brushes to scrape off any baked-on or difficult to remove dirt.

For rust spots or calcified deposits on your cast iron wood stove, left by leaks or humidification, use metal-grade sandpaper and gently rub the spots away. Use the duster to clear the area of the particles you have scraped away.

Dab the scraped spots with a little oil, grease or shortening applied to a clean rag.

Use the toothbrush to scrape dirt and dust deposits from the corners and crevices of your cast iron wood stove.

Use a vacuum with a flexible host attachment to clean the firebox of all ash residue. Don't forget the upper corners. Remove the grate and set it aside for special attention.

Wipe out the firebox with a clean rag, starting with the top and moving left to right, allowing any residue to fall to the bottom of the firebox. Use your wire brush to scrape away any grit.

Re-vacuum the firebox.

Scrape the grit and dirt off the grate using a wire brush before replacing it in the firebox.

After you have removed all of the surface dirt, apply stove blacking all over the cast iron wood stove and allow it to dry.


Always make sure that your wood stove chimney pipe is clear of debris and creosote before starting a fire in your cast iron wood stove. Use newspapers daubed with a little bacon grease to give your cast iron wood stove a quick spruce-up between major cleanings.


Some manufacturers of modern wood stoves require specific treatment of different materials to retain the cast iron wood stove's safety rating with the Environmental Protection Agency. Always consult the manufacturer's directions before making any alterations to your cast iron wood stove.

Things You'll Need

  • Assorted wire brushes
  • Newspapers or tarp
  • Toothbrush
  • Rags
  • Metal-grade sandpaper
  • Olive oil, bacon grease or shortening
  • Vacuum
  • Duster
  • Stove blacking
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About the Author

Kate Sheridan is a freelance writer, researcher, blogger, reporter and photographer whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and trade publications for over 35 years. She attended Oakland University and The University of Michigan, beginning her journalism career as an intern at the "Rochester Eccentric." She's received honors from the Michigan Press Association, American Marketing Association and the State of Michigan Department of Commerce.