If you own a wood burning stove fireplace and use it with any regularity, you will know that it produces a lot of soot. While some of that soot may escape, most of it ends up on the inside of your stove, making it dirty and in some cases interfering with its function. In order to keep your stove working as well as possible, not to mention looking its best, you will need to clean it. Doing so, while quite straightforward and requiring no special tools, does require the proper techniques and strategies. What follows should give you everything you need to know to get started cleaning your wood burning stove.
Step 1 - Cool the Stove
Before you do anything, think back to the last time you used your stove. Was it recently? If so, you will need to wait until the stove cools down completely. Cleaning a wood burning stove that is still hot is not safe.
Step 2 - Prepare the Work Space
Put down a drop cloth to protect the floor around your fireplace.
Step 3 - Clean the Catalytic Combustor
After your stove has cooled down completely, you must locate and remove the catalytic combustor. Do this by looking between the stove pipe and the fire. The catalytic combustor should be there. Once you have located it, remove it. Now that the catalytic combustor is out in the open you can use your brush to clean the stove out. Be sure to scrub carefully and loosen any soot or debris you can. When you are done brushing the catalytic combustor, use your vacuum cleaner to remove all loose material from it. A workshop vacuum is the best choice, but an ordinary vacuum will work. However, be aware that you may fill your vacuum cleaner's filter with soot.
Consult your owner's manual and check for any special treatment your catalytic combustor requires.
Step 4 - Remove Large Debris
Next, remove any large debris from your stove. Using a fireplace shovel is the best way to do this. As you remove large debris, put it into a metal container with a cover. When you have all of the large debris out, bring the metal container outside and cover it. Leave it outside, covered, for 48 hours before throwing the debris away to ensure that you do not cause a fire.
Step 5 - Remove Small Debris
Once you have any large debris removed, use your vacuum cleaner to remove any small loose debris.
Step 6 - Clean the Inside
Now that your wood burning stove is mostly free of debris, you can clean the interior properly. Mix 1 gallon of water with 1 cup of bleach in a bucket. Dip your brush into the bucket and use it to apply the mixture to the sides of your stove's interior. Scrub everywhere thoroughly. The entire interior of the stove is probably coated in soot, and you cannot damage it by scrubbing too hard. When you have removed as much soot as you can, use rags or paper towels to wipe up the remaining water, loosened soot, and bleach solution.