Wood Stove Corner

How to Clean and Maintain Your Cast Iron Wood Stove

With summer already upon us, it's the perfect time to perform your regular yearly wood stove maintenance. Like many other home installment projects, using a cast iron wood stove will require some upkeep over time. But, the process is simple and straightforward! Just follow these helpful suggestions and you'll be ready for wood stove season before the maple leaves even begin changing color.

Suggested Supplies:

  • Toothbrush
  • Lint free cloth and rag
  • High temperature stove paint
  • Steel wool or finer grit sandpaper
  • Wire brushes
  • Vacuum with expandable nozzle or small shovel and bucket
  • Glass cleaner
  • Dust mask, safety glasses, and gloves

1. Before even beginning, put on a dust mask, safety glasses, and gloves. Make sure that your wood stove is cool to the touch from the last time it was in use. Then remove the grate and empty the firebox of its ashes, using a vacuum with expandable nozzle to access hard to reach areas. If that is unavailable, simply use a small shovel to scoop the ashes into your corresponding bucket. Cooled ashes can be used on flower beds, gardens and compost pies in very small amounts. By spreading a thin layer of wood ash over your azaleas, you'll add lime, potassium and other trace elements that help with neutralizing acidic soils. 

2. Wipe down the inside of the firebox again with a rag before using a wire brush to remove the dirt in difficult to clean areas. Remove dirt from the grate in the same way, wiping it down with a rag before using the wire brush to scrub away caked on ash and grime. Vacuum once more to remove any lingering dust.  

3. After that's completed, you can focus on the outside of your cast iron wood stove. Use a lint free cloth to wipe away any dust on its surface. Begin with the body of the stove, working your way from the top to bottom, before moving onto the base. A toothbrush can be used to clean off any grime in between moldings if your stove has a decorative facade. 

4. Examine the body and base of your cast iron stove for signs of rust. Unfortunately, rusting is a common problem for these stoves, especially in locations of high humidity. This can be easily remedied by using steel wool or a finer grit sandpaper to remove the rust. Simply rub spots in a circular motion to wipe away the rust before cleaning these areas again with a lint free cloth.

5. If your wood stove has a glass door, wipe down both sides with glass cleaner. Performing this regular maintenance will prevent carbon from baking onto the inside of your glass door, making your stove parts last longer

6. Finally, we recommend that you paint your wood stove every couple years to keep it in good shape. High temperature stove paint comes in a variety of colors and will prevent rusting. Make sure that the temperature on the can of high temperature stove paint can withstand at least 1200 degrees. You may also want to purchase a spray can gun for easy application of the paint. Simply attach to nozzle and spray the paint in steady lines across your stove's surface, stopping the stream at the end of each row to prevent dripping. Make sure that glass stove window is covered prior to this.

When you are actively using your cast iron wood stove, you should intermittently check for spots where water gathers and wipe away immediately. We also recommend that you have your wood stove and corresponding chimney inspected once a year by a local building inspector or chimney sweep. They will be able to recognize signs of gradual deterioration that you might not immediately notice. These include everything from cracks, leaks, and warping to gaps in the baffle or creosote in the chimney. Also, remember to replace or repair your stove when necessary. If left to deterioration, dangerous structural damage can occur.