How to Clean a Fireplace Insert

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Fireplace inserts became popular in the 1970s, during the US oil crisis. Wood was readily available to save money back then. To save money, homeowners were asked to promote a wood-burning insert in the fireplace. Since then, the popularity of such inserts has skyrocketed.

However, people have raised concerns that the maintenance and cleaning of a fireplace insert require too much effort.

How to Clean a Fireplace Insert

Cleaning the fireplace insert with traditional methods may appear exhausting. However, once you’ve mastered the techniques, you’ll realize how convenient they are. Because poor maintenance can lead to house fires and other disasters. As a result, you must learn how to clean a fireplace insert.

Living room with a fireplace in need of cleaning

Method 1: Cleaning with Liquid Dishwashing Soap & Baking Soda

The more often you clean your fireplace insert, the easier it will be for you to maintain it over time. So, it would be best to keep in mind that you can’t ignore the cleaning process because it is a dirty job, which is quite similar to cleaning fire pits. It’s been noticed that many people do not wish to put their hands into it.

But, professional fireplace insert cleaning comes at a high price. Hence, get your hands dirty and do it yourself to save some bucks.

Step 1: Prepare the Area to Limit the Cleaning Mess

  1. You will need newspapers or a plastic tarp for this purpose.
  2. Spread either several layers of newspapers or a plastic tarp on the fireplace front.
  3. It is to keep the floor neat while executing the cleaning process.
  4. Now, clear out all the grates, tools, and woods from the area before proceeding further.

Step 2: Scoop Out the Debris or Ash

  1. You will need a small shovel for this purpose.
  2. Use it for scooping out any of the debris or ash within the fireplace.
  3. Check for large piles of dust & dirt. (Regular cleaning will eliminate the piling of debris or dust)
  4. Now, use a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment for cleaning the surroundings and inside area of the fireplace.
  5. The goal of this step is to remove all the loose debris from the fireplace.

Step 3: Scrub Inside Area of the Fireplace Insert

  1. You will need one heavy-duty brush with wires and a small wire brush for the purpose.
  2. Preferably, use a heavy-duty brush for scrubbing the inside region of the fireplace.
  3. Pay a little more attention to removing all the baked debris or creosote from inside.
  4. Now, use a smaller wire brush for removing debris and dirt off the insert door & hinges.
  5. Loosen all the debris or dirt stuck around the exterior.
  6. Now, use a vacuum cleaner to suck out all of the loosened dirt, debris, and creosote.

Step 4: Prepare Soap & Baking Soda Solution

  1. Take one gallon of water in a large container
  2. Add a teaspoon of dishwashing soap to it.
  3. Now, add a half-cup of baking soda into the mixture.
  4. Mix the solution well.

Step 5: Clean Fireplace Insert with the Solution

  1. You will need a rag for this.
  2. Submerge the rag into the cleaning solution.
  3. Now, use it to scrub inside and outside of the fireplace insert.
  4. Do the scrubbing thoroughly, and concentrate while scrubbing the vents and grates.
  5. Keep repeating the process by changing rags when one gets too dirty.
  6. Remove all the gunk from in and around the fireplace insert using the solution.
Fireplace being used

Step 6: Rinse with Clean Water

  1. Keep another bucket full of clean water right beside you.
  2. Use clean rags to rinse the fireplace insert with the help of water. 
  3. Rinse the surface thoroughly to remove remnants of baking soda and dishwashing soap solution.
  4. Use a clean cloth to dry the fireplace insert afterward.
  5. It would be best if you used multiple clean and dry cloths to soak out all moisture thoroughly from the fireplace insert.

Step 7: Clean Glass Features with White Vinegar

Glass features of the fireplace insert need separate cleaning as they are delicate to handle. Here’s what you need to do for cleaning them:

  1. Fill white vinegar solution in a spray bottle.
  2. Spray it over the glass features of a fireplace insert.
  3. Use a microfiber cloth to remove dirt, dust, debris, and grime off the surfaces.
  4. If the debris is caked, you need to brush it out before using cloth and its solution.

After you’ve finished cleaning, you can throw away all of the newspapers and plastic tarp. Return the tools, logs, and grate to their original locations. Vacuum the area around the fireplace insert one last time to remove any remaining debris.


Check your fireplace insert’s warranty. You should not try any cleaning methods if your warranty is still valid. The company will follow the warranty rules.

Get a better idea of the cleaning steps by taking a closer look at this video which describes the thorough process.

Method 2: Cleaning with Soap, Salt & Water

If you want an even easier cleaning method, use soap, salt, and water.

Check out the below steps:

  1. Spread newspapers on the front of the fireplace insert.
  2. In a container, mix equal parts soap and salt.
  3. Stir well until a creamy cleaning solution forms.
  4. Make sure the mixture is not watery and is a paste.
  5. Apply the paste to the bricks with a towel.
  6. Allow the paste to soak for about 10 minutes.
  7. Scrub the bricks with a brush with firm bristles.
  8. It removes dirt, dust, and caked debris from the fireplace insert.
  9. Rinse the surface with clean water and a clean rag.
  10. Rinse it thoroughly to remove any remaining cleaning solution.
  11. Dry the insert with a clean towel.
  12. After you’ve finished cleaning, throw away the newspapers.

Method 3: Cleaning an Electric Fireplace Insert

Electric fireplace inserts are also popular these days. Furthermore, the cleaning procedure differs from that of wooden inserts. Electric fireplace inserts do not require any outside ventilation and are thus vent-less.

Electric fireplace

They are powered by a power supply and are relatively simple to install and maintain. And if you have an electric one, this guide will help you as well.

Here are the cleaning steps:

Step 1: Disconnect It from the Power Supply

  1. Make sure to turn off the electric fireplace insert a few hours before cleaning.
  2. It is to allow the insert to cool down, making cleaning easier.
  3. To avoid electric shocks, remove the plug from the sockets.

Step 2: Cleaning of the Heater or Insert

  1. Begin by cleaning the interior of the electric heater.
  2. Make use of clean, dry cloth (Preferred cotton).
  3. Wipe down the surface of the fireplace insert.
  4. Maintain a gentler wiping motion.
  5. Clean the electric insert outlet with a soft brush.
  6. Remove all carbon residues and dense debris from the surface.

Step 3: Cleaning of the Glass Features

  1. To remove glass panels from the insert, consult the user guide.
  2. Wipe both sides of the glass with a soft cotton cloth.
  3. On the glass, avoid using abrasive wipers or harsh cleaners.
  4. Dust off the dirt and dust with a soft duster.

There isn’t much of a need for a cleaning solution to keep the electric fireplace inserts in good condition. It’s because they don’t collect caked debris as wooden ones do. As a result, simple and routine cleaning is adequate for the purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Water to Get Rid of Running Fire Right Before Cleaning the Insert?

No, you should not use any liquid to put out a fire unless it is an emergency. Extinguishing a fire with water will turn the ashes into a paste that will be extremely difficult to clean. Check out this link for more information on cleaning the fireplace insert.

How Frequently Should the Fireplace Insert Be Cleaned?

If you only use the fireplace insert during the winter, you must thoroughly clean it at least once a year. However, if you live in a cold climate and require a fireplace insert all year, you may need to clean it more than once every 365 days. However, in most cases, it is preferable to clean the fireplace insert before the burning season begins.


Take advantage of the opportunity to save money on hiring professionals by cleaning the fireplace insert yourself. Don’t put off starting the cleaning process! This guide will assist you in keeping the fireplace insert clean to avoid fire hazards caused by creosote glaze or soot buildup.