How to Clean Fireplace Glass to Look Brand New
Almost nothing is more comforting than a (controlled) fire. Our ancient ancestors invented fire almost a million years ago, and despite all our modern advances in cooking, heating, and lighting, we still love having a good, old-fashioned fire. There’s just nothing quite like it for ambiance. We have, however, turned the advances of modern tech towards making fireplaces safer, and you can now get glass doors on nearly any type of fireplace. They let us enjoy the fire in greater safety, but when they start to get foggy, you need to know how to clean fireplace glass so you can keep enjoying your flames.
We should define our terms, because there is fireplace glass and also “fire glass” in a lot of modern gas fireplaces. We’re talking today about how to clean fireplace glass: the doors on the outside of the fireplace that let you see in so nicely. Until they get foggy, that is.
Fire glass are pieces of glass that go inside your fireplace and sit among the flames. You’ll only find them in gas fireplaces, and their purpose is to hide the gas jets, reflect the light so the fire looks better, and reflect the heat so the fire performs more efficiently. You can buy fire glass in all shapes, sizes, and colors, but it generally doesn’t need to be cleaned.
Why Does My Fireplace Have a Glass Door?
You might not automatically think about putting fire and glass together. Is it safe? You also might wonder if it doesn’t compromise the efficiency of your fire’s heating. Glass fireplace doors are most commonly seen on gas fireplaces, but you can also buy them for your existing wood fireplace. Here’s why we have them:
To Make Things Safer
This is the most obvious reason for having one of these doors. It keeps little fingers (and paws…and tails!) out of the fire and keeps the fire, including any stray sparks, where it belongs.
To Lower Your Utility Bills
Most fireplaces have to vent somewhere, and that vent is an opening to the outside world. In the summer, your cool, conditioned air escapes out. In the winter, the cold air comes right in. Having a glass door gives you a way to close off the opening.
To Keep You Warmer
Believe it or not, the glass door actually makes things more warm. You’d think having doors would block the fire’s heat, but tests have shown that glass doors double, and in some cases triple, the amount of heat coming out of the fire behind it.
To Look Nice
The fireplace glass tends to conceal the messy ashes of a traditional fireplace or the plumbing of a gas one. Yet it lets you see the fire behind it just fine.
To Keep Out Smoke
Even a gas fire emits a little bit of smoke and fumes, and fireplace glass keeps that away from you. This is a great function of fireplace glass: yet this is one reason we have to know how to clean fireplace glass in the first place.
How to Clean Fireplace Glass
If your fireplace glass is looking cloudy, black, or dim, cleaning the glass will restore the ambiance of the whole room. Doing this job properly takes a little effort and commitment, but it shouldn’t need to be done very often. You’ll be glad you did it once you can see your beautiful fire clearly again. Here’s how to clean fireplace glass safely:
Your first step is to be sure the glass has completely cooled before you try to clean it. Not only do you want to avoid burning yourself; you also don’t want the glass to crack if it’s too hot and you suddenly put cold water or cleaner on it. If you have a gas fireplace, make sure you’ve turned off the gas.
Open the Doors
How you do this will depend on the type of door you have. In some cases, you’ll be able to simply remove the metal clips that let you slide the doors out. Others have screws that must be removed. Either way, make sure you have a soft towel nearby to lay the glass on so it doesn’t break.
If your doors open in the middle, you can choose not to remove them at all. Simply open them and clean the back sides; however, be aware that it will be easier to thoroughly clean off every little nook and cranny (and remove every bit of cleaner) if you’ve taken them off.
Clean the Area (Optional)
While you’ve got the doors off, an ash vacuum is a great tool for getting rid of all the mess in and around the front of the fireplace. While this is an optional step and only applies to traditional fireplaces, keeping the whole fireplace area clean will help keep your glass looking nice for longer.
Choose a Cleaner
If the glass is just cloudy, you can get rid of that with simple household vinegar. Of course, glass cleaner is also always an option for dirty glass of any type; however, regular glass cleaner usually can’t get off caked-on soot. Fireplace glass cleaner is a paste specially made to tackle those burned-on bits of carbon, and if your fireplace glass is really dirty, that’s what we recommend. You can get this at any home hardware store or from Amazon.
Apply Your Cleaner
If you’ve chosen fireplace glass cleaner, apply it in a circular motion with a paper towel or a microfiber cloth. Make sure you’ve covered every part of the glass. Whatever cleaner you’re using, let it stand for a few minutes.
Remove the Cleaner
Use a clean, dry cloth to completely remove all the cleaner. After the cleaner is removed, you may notice that you’ve still got soot on the glass. If you do, repeat the cleaning until it comes off.
Remove the Really Stuck Bits
If you’ve gone too long between cleanings and things are really stuck on there, you might need to use a razor blade to (gently!) scrape off these bits. Just be very careful and patient with this step.
Let It Dry!
This may be the most important piece of advice anyone gives you about how to clean fireplace glass: make sure it’s completely dry and all the cleaner is gone before you put the glass back on. Once you put it back on, you’ll be tempted to start a fire to enjoy your new, beautifully cleaned glass. If the glass is still damp at that point, it might break or turn instantly cloudy.
Why Does My Fireplace Glass Need to Be Cleaned So Often?
If you have a wood-burning fireplace with glass doors, you probably don’t wonder at all about why you have to clean it. Smoke and soot are abundant in a wood-burning fire, and sudden downdrafts from the chimney can blow these right at the glass doors.
But a gas fireplace is a different matter. For the most part, these usually burn cleanly. You may have thought you’d never have to learn how to clean fireplace glass on a glass fireplace. If the gas fire is working correctly, you should just occasionally need to remove the cloudiness from your glass.
If your doors are getting dirty too quickly, though, it may mean something is wrong. Consider one of these possible issues:
The Fuel Isn’t Being Burned Off
If you have a traditional fireplace, too much soot means the fuel isn’t being efficiently burned away. Make sure that you’re only putting wood and the occasionally bit of paper fire starter material in there. Your wood also needs to be dry and seasoned.
You also need to make sure your chimney is perfectly clean and that you give the fire plenty of air as it starts so it gets hot quickly. This will ensure it burns up all the wood efficiently and produces less soot.
Your Gas Is Bad
If your fireplace is fed by a propane tank, the gas inside it is primarily propane with a bit of butane added in. Butane doesn’t burn very nicely compared to propane, and since it’s a heavier gas, it tends to settle at the bottom of the tank. If your fireplace is burning black and creating a mess on the glass frequently, you’re probably getting to the bottom of your gas tank and need to re-charge it.
Your Air-to-Fuel Ratio Is Off
Propane or natural gas need just the right amount of air to burn cleanly. With natural gas, sooty doors are probably because your fake logs or fire glass are obstructing the burner ports or something has fallen in one of the ports and clogged it. Moving the logs to the position the manufacturer recommends and checking the ports should fix the issue.
If you have a propane tank, badly positioned logs or glass could be the issue, but it could also be that the air shutter or flue might need to be adjusted to improve air flow. If none of that works, get an expert in to make sure the lines are all in good shape.
Now you know how to clean fireplace glass, so go forth and do! You’ll be able to enjoy your fire, and your whole room, much more.