How to clean the exterior of a wood burning stove

Updated February 21, 2017

After a season of heating your home with a wood burning stove, the stove may not look as good as it did when it was new. Hot fires, wet wood and other environmental factors change the exterior look of wood burning stoves. Restoring a stove to its former glory takes a little effort. Yearly maintenance will keep your new or antique wood burning stove looking great for years to come.

Use a soft-bristle brush and a damp cloth to remove dirt, ash or other debris from the stove surface. Pay close attention to cracks and crevices in scroll-work, and the joints for the door and legs.

Apply a good quality stove polish to cast iron stoves. Liquid or paste stove polish will work the same. Cover a soft, lint-free cloth in stove polish, and rub in a circular motion over all the stove's surface. Use a quality bristled brush to work the stove polish into scroll-work and joints. Buff the polish with a lint-free cloth for a high sheen finish

Cure stove black with a very small fire. Kindling size pieces of wood are sufficient. A stove that warms up slowly will cure slowly, allowing for a good finish. Ventilate the area by opening doors, windows and using fans.

Remove scratches from soapstone wood stoves with an extra fine #0000 steel wool pad. Rub lightly in a circular motion to buff out the surface of the scratch. For deep scratches, use a higher 120-grit sandpaper, rubbing with the same motion. Follow this by buffing the area with the #0000 steel wool.

Refinish the cast iron parts of a soapstone stove by masking off the area and applying stove polish. Soapstone is porous and will absorb the polish. Carefully apply the polish to prevent drips.

Clean glass on a stove by starting an intense fire. Blacking on the glass indicates a low temperature fire with wet wood. This normally happens during damp conditions in the early or late burning season. Clean a glass front with glass cleaner only after the glass has completely cooled. Allow the glass to fully dry before starting a fire to prevent the process from happening again. Use fine steel wool to remove the harder soot stains.

Apply a spray-on metal and fibreglass cleaner to steel and enamel wood burning stoves, and then simply wipe it off. Choose a quality product free of abrasives for a mar-free finish.


An electrolysis process will remove rust.


Never polish a stove that is hot. Never clean glass in a stove that isn't completely cool.

Things You'll Need

  • Lint-free cloth
  • Soft-bristle paintbrush
  • Stove polish
  • #0000 steel wool
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Metal and fibreglass spray cleaner
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About the Author

Dakota Wright is a freelance journalist who enjoys sharing her knowledge with online readers. She has written for a variety of niche sites across the Internet including “Info Barrel and Down Home Basics.” Her recent work can be seen in “Backwoods Home Magazine.”