A wood stove is a good thing to have since it is an inexpensive way to heat a room. The problem with having a wood stove, though, is that the outside of it can get covered with rust or soot. This is highly noticeable since the stove sits out in the open. Since wood stoves are not that common anymore, it can be hard to find instructions on how to clean them properly. Once you know what to do, it's a fairly simple task.
Turn off your stove and let it cool for at least two hours. Cover the area beneath your stove with plastic sheeting so it will catch any cleaning solution drips or rust that falls off of the stove.
Pour 2 cups of kosher salt into your bucket and add 1/2 gallon of lukewarm water. Stir until the salt dissolves. Put on your rubber gloves and drop your cotton cloth in the liquid, letting it soak through. Wipe down the stove with the cloth, using a wire brush or steel wool pad as needed to clean any stubborn spots.
Wipe off the salt water with a second cotton cloth, making sure you get all of it off of the stove. If needed, repeat step two a second time. Then wipe the stove again.
Put 1/2 tsp. of stove black (a polish made from a carbon-based liquid or paste) on a third cotton cloth. Rub the polish on the outside of the stove in a circular motion. The polish will give the stove a smooth shine and help to prevent future rust.
Remove the plastic sheeting from the floor and dispose of it. Let the polish dry for 24 hours before you use the stove again. Then start with a small fire only. (Think less than 2 inches in flame height.) This will help to "bake on" the blacking.
Open all the windows and doors in the room before cleaning the wood stove. Stove polish has a strong smell. Make sure you get stove black or "stove polish" not stove paint. Skip the blacking if your stove is painted a light color. The carbon will make the outside look a black or dark gray.
Some recommend cleaning the outside of your stove with kerosene. It's not a good idea, since kerosene is highly flammable. Don't get any stove polish on the inside of your stove. It's only appropriate for the outside. Stop using your wood stove if it is rusted completely through. This is a definite fire hazard.