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How to Clean Out a Fire Pit: Tips and Techniques to Keep the Fire Burning

How to Clean Out a Fire Pit: Tips and Techniques to Keep the Fire Burning

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For me, there’s no better place to sit back and relax after a long day than in my backyard, beside a warm and welcoming fire pit.

It’s the perfect spot for toasting marshmallows, sharing stories and laughs, and maybe even entertaining guests now and then.

However, being outdoors has caused my fire pit to start looking dull, and nightly use has led to soot, ashes, and unburnt wood building up inside.

In my quest to get my fire pit looking clean and shiny again, I’ve come across several helpful tips on how to clean out a fire pit, which I’ll be sharing with you today. Let’s get started!

Do You Have to Clean a Fire Pit?

Whether you have a wood-burning fire pit or one with a gas burner, regular cleaning, and maintenance is the key to keeping it looking and functioning well for the years to come.

Leaving ashes inside the fire pit for a long time can deteriorate its interior, while moisture and rainwater build-up lead to rust. Dirty fire pits also contain flammable debris that accumulate over time. Collected ashes, soot, and unburnt debris not only look bad but also stifle proper airflow.

To keep your fire pit safe, effective, and attractive, give your fire pit a thorough clean-up at least once every season.

How to Clean Out a Fire Pit: A Step-By-Step Guide

Follow these steps to get your fire pit shining, spotless, and ready for your next cozy evening:

1 – Remove Ashes and Debris

Start by emptying your fire pit of bits of wood, sticks, leaves, ashes, and other debris. The best time to do this is at least 24 hours after your last fire, to ensure that all the embers have cooled completely.

Wear protective equipment, such as rubber or working gloves, to keep your hands safe while cleaning. Here are a few other tools that you can use during this step:

  • A garden trowel to loosen up compacted soot
  • A shovel or ash scooper to collect debris
  • A long poker or tongs to move logs around
  • Shop vac to suck debris from nooks and crannies
  • A metal can or bucket for dumping the ashes

2 – Scrub and Clean the Surfaces

Now, it’s time to take care of your fire pit’s inner and outer surfaces.

The right cleaning method and cleaning solution will often depend on what material your fire pit is made of. Here’s a guide on how to thoroughly clean each type of fire pit:

Stone and Masonry Fire Pit

Brick and stone fire pits are classic, beautiful, and long-lasting additions to any yard. One of their main advantages is that they can withstand year-round weather conditions without breaking down.

Here’s how to keep your stone or masonry fire pit clean throughout the seasons:

1. After removing all debris, use a stiff-bristled brush and some warm soapy water to scrub your fire pit thoroughly.

2. To tackle stubborn residue build-up in the interior and exterior of the pit, you can also scrub with a mixture of one part muriatic acid and nine parts water. Don’t forget to wear eye protection when using this solution.

3. Use a garden hose to rinse the dirt and cleaning solution.

4. Allow your fire pit to air dry completely for two to three days before using.

Steel and Metal Fire Pit

Steel and metal are some of the most versatile and durable fire pit materials and are easier to clean than other options.

Here’s how to clean your steel or metal fire pit:

1. Clear out all ashes and use a stiff-bristled brush to remove loose debris from the surfaces.

2. Mix a cleaning solution using warm water and one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid. Another option is to use a gallon of warm water and ¼ cup of washing soda.

3. Dip a sponge, cloth, or nonabrasive scrubber into the solution and scrub the interior and exterior of your fire pit. Scrub in the direction of the metal grain, and don’t forget the fire pit cover, grates, and screens.

4. Rinse your fire pit with clean water and wipe it dry with old towels.

Cast Iron Fire Pit

Cleaning cast iron fire pits can be a bit more challenging, as they easily develop a top layer of rust after exposure to oxygen and moisture.

Follow these steps to restore your cast iron fire pit to its former sparkle:

1. Use a shop vac or ash scooper to capture any debris.

2. Put on your rubber gloves and fill up a bucket with some hot water.

3. Dip a piece of steel wool into the water, and scrub the interior of the pit using circular motions.

4. You can also use distilled white vinegar and a piece of cloth to remove rust or dirt buildup.

5. Rinse the fire pit with fresh water and dry it thoroughly with towels to prevent rusting.

Copper Fire Pit

The benefit of using copper fire pits is that they’re essentially rust-proof and can withstand high temperatures and exposure to the elements.

Over time, they develop a beautiful natural patina that doubles as a protective layer and can be removed anytime.

Here’s how to clean your copper fire pit:

1. After safely removing the debris, spray your fire pit with a garden hose to wash away the dirt.

2. Use a soft cloth or rag dipped in warm soapy water to clean the surfaces.

3. To remove stubborn soot, tarnish, and patina, you can gently scrub the copper with a commercial cleaner or homemade paste made out of two parts salt and three parts lemon juice.

4. Rinse your fire pit with clean water and dry it using a lint-free towel.

Gas Fire Pit

Gas fire pits are among the easiest to maintain, as they burn cleaner and more efficiently than wood-burning units. That means there’s little to no soot, ash, and smoke to deal with.

All you have to do is keep the burners free from debris to allow the proper flow of gas and check the gas lines for blockages and leaks.

To clean your gas fire pit, follow these steps:

1. Disconnect your fire pit from the gas supply before the clean-up.

2. Carefully remove debris, including dead leaves and fallen twigs.

3. Use warm soapy water and a sponge to wipe the interior and exterior of your pit.

4. For tough stains, skip the abrasive cleaners and stick to a mixture of vinegar and water.

5. Rinse with your sponge and clean water, and wipe away any residue using a dry towel.

6. Request your gas technician to clean the gas jets and inspect the connections yearly to keep them in good condition.

How to Clean Fire Pit Glass

Just like your fire pit, it’s inevitable for fire glass to lose some of its luster over time. The good news is cleaning fire glass is easy, and most of the things you need can be found in your home.

Before getting started, ensure you wear protective gloves, as fire glass can have sharp edges.

1. Mix one part water and one part household vinegar in a plastic bucket.

2. Use your scoop or trowel to place the fire glass inside the bucket.

3. Gently stir the solution and soak the fire glass for one to two minutes.

4. Remove the fire glass, put it in a strainer, and rinse thoroughly with clean water.

5. Let the fire glass air dry or carefully wipe them with a paper towel until they’re completely dry.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of the type of fire pit you own, a thorough cleanup is necessary for it to perform at its best and serve as the centerpiece of your yard for the years to come.

To ensure that your fire pit stays clean and efficient for longer, consider investing in a fire pit cover and storing your portable fire pit in a garage or shed when not in use during off-seasons.

Now that you know how to clean out a fire pit, you’re ready for more cozy evenings by the fire!


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