How to Clean a Pellet Stove

Written by: Paul Cathro

Updated on: February 16, 2022

Keeping your pellet stove clean doesn’t need to be a nasty chore, with these few simple steps, you’ll be able to keep your stove sparkling.

wood pellets burning in flames

There are a few household chores that many of us dread, such as cleaning the oven or sorting through the garage. Both of which take time, can be disgusting and then there’s the prospect of finding spiders hidden away in a corner. 

When it comes to pellet stove cleaning, though, there’s absolutely no need to dread the task. These stoves are actually pretty simple to clean, and the more you clean it, the easier it will be to keep sparkling. Plus, keeping your pellet stove clean means your stove works at its best, with much clearer flames.

Here’s all you need to know about keeping your new pellet stove looking as good as new.

Remove Ash on a Regular Basis

Building a pellet stove maintenance routine is a brilliant habit to get yourself into, especially when it comes to keeping on top of the ash left behind after burning. Depending on how often you light your pellet burner, it’s good practice to empty the ash pan at least once or twice a week.

This is a simple two-minute job, where all you need to do is remove the pan and empty the residue into a garbage bin. If you find that there is still a lot of ash in the pan – even after a vigorous shake – then use a specialized ash vacuum cleaner to pick up the rest. Never use your ordinary vacuum cleaner on ash, as this will damage your machine.

wood pellet stove and pellets

Cleaning the Inside of Your Pellet Stove

Ash can also build up on the inside of your stove, and the longer you leave it, the harder it will burn onto the sides. So, on a regular basis, you should remove this ash and keep your stove from getting clogged up.

The best way to remove ash is with a specialized wire brush, which will scrape off the ash. Once dislodged, you can use an ash vacuum to suck up the residue. It’s also a good idea to clean the pipes, as ash can get stuck up there. To do this, you will need a chimney brush.

The best way to keep the inside of a pellet stove clean is with a special hot ash vacuum cleaner. You can read all about the top models here.

Cleaning the Outside of Your Pellet Stove

How to clean a pellet stove exterior will depend on what your pellet stove is made from.

For cast iron stoves, use a wire brush to remove any rust or a build of grime. Like all the other steps in this guide, the more you clean your pellet stove, the easier it will be. If you’ve not cleaned the exterior of your stove in a long while, it might take some extra elbow grease. For extra tough pieces of rust, try gently using a piece of sandpaper then, once you’re finished, vacuum up the residue.

For other stoves, you can make a solution of water and either non-abrasive soap or vinegar. Then use with a cloth to work away any grime. If your pellet stove has stainless steel areas, remember to buff these with a dry cloth to prevent any streaks.

Closeup on the combustion of a pellet stove
Closeup on the combustion of a pellet stove

Cleaning the Glass

One of the best things about owning a pellet stove is being able to sit and watch the mesmerizing flames. However, soot can easily clog and cover the glass on your stove, stopping you from seeing the flames.

To keep your glass sparkling, it’s encouraged that you clean it after every lighting – just remember to wait for it to cool! You don’t need any fancy pellet stove cleaning tools to keep the glass clean either, all you really need is a glass cleaner and damp cloth.

When the glass has cooled, spray your glass with the specialized cleaner, then simply wipe away with a clean, damp cloth. If you have stubborn stains, try leaving the cleaner on for a few minutes before wiping.

For truly stubborn stains, try a piece of newspaper dipped in ashes. This might sound odd, but it really works. When the marks have been dislodged, you can wipe away the ash with a damp cloth.

Never be tempted to scrape the soot away with a razor. You’re very likely to damage and scrape the glass, which is a costly mistake.

Recommended Reading: We’ve got a guide to cleaning stove glass that you don’t want to miss!

The Pellets You Use Can Make Your Stove Dirtier

Now that you’ve finished your pellet stove cleaning, the last thing you want is for it to get dirty with ash again. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it though, but you can help prevent a buildup of dirt by using higher grade pellets, which have less ash content.

All the pellets made for these stoves are given a grade. This grade refers to the materials used in the pellets as well as a percentage of ash. The higher the grade, the less ash. So, by using higher grades of pellets, you’ll spend less time pellet stove cleaning.

The storage of your pellets is also important as, if you store them in a damp place, they will absorb water. This can cause the pellets to stick to your stove.

A hand picking wood pellets

Don’t Be Afraid to Hire a Professional

True, you need to clean and maintain your pellet stove yourself to keep it in top condition, but you should also consider getting in a professional every so often.

Once a year, just before winter arrives, you should ask a professional to service your pellet stove. Not only is this essential for pellet stove maintenance and spotting any potential problems, but these professionals can also reach and clean areas of your stove that you’re unable to do.

To really keep on top of your pellet stove cleaning, make a cleaning schedule for throughout the year. Add in extra cleaning for times of busy usage – such as winter – and make sure the whole family chips in. After all, it’s the full family that uses the stove.

The more you clean your stove, the easier it will be to clean. With regular maintenance, your stove will continue to look and work as if you’ve only just bought it.

Recommended Article: Don’t miss our guide to installing a pellet stove.

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About the Author Paul Cathro

Paul is an ex-HVAC engineer with 5 years 'in the trade'.

He acquired in 2022 and aims to make it the internet's most comprehensive HVAC resource for small homes in the next few years.

You can learn more about Paul's story here.

Browse his published work on the website here.

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