Use your wood-burning fireplace mostly for cozy wintertime ambiance and decorative holiday scene setting? Before you dress the mantle with festive seasonal greenery and hang those stockings, it’s a fine idea to give your fireplace’s sooty tempered glass doors, if they got ‘em, a touch-up. After all, why would you want to surround something stained with soot with items that sparkle and shine?

When removing built-up carbon residue and other gunk from glass fireplace and wood stove doors, a normal glass/window cleaner most likely isn’t tough enough given that you're not dealing with regular glass. As an alternative, most folks resort to rags dipped in household ammonia, oven cleaners like Easy-Off, or harsh, heavy-duty products manufactured specifically for the task.

Although these solutions can be effective in removing soot and built-up grime and don’t require an extraneous amount of elbow grease, they must be used with utmost caution given their hazardous properties that call for the wearing of rubber gloves and googles, the holding-in of breath, and the opening of windows.

Or, you could avoid chemicals altogether and opt for old newspapers dampened with water and dipped in fireplace ashes. Yep, fireplace ashes. Although it’s counterintuitive and requires a bit more effort on your part, scrubbing glass fireplace doors with the what-in-the-heck-do-I-do-with-this residue left from a raging wood fire does indeed do the trick.

For sootier jobs, it may help to use a flat razor blade to remove more stubborn carbon deposits (take care to not scratch the glass) before going to work with the wood ash. And for a sparkly finish after all of the scouring and scraping, spray the exterior and interior of the doors with a solution of white vinegar and water and pat down with a dry cloth.

Have leftover wood ash after your fireplace cleaning mission? Use it for certain gardening applications and to clean silverware and brass.

Do you have any chemical-free, thrift-minded tips on how to pretty-up your glass fireplace doors in preparation for the holidays?

See also:

Green cleaning tips

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

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