Fire pits are becoming increasingly popular in landscape design. They offer warmth, an area to gather and socialize, and even an opportunity for outdoor cooking. The designs vary from large masonry hardscapes to metal pits to propane or natural gas-powered units. But no matter what type of fire pit you choose, it will need to be cleaned regularly to keep it attractive, safe, and in good working order.
How Often to Clean a Fire Pit
If you are using a wood-fired pit, the ashes should be removed after every use. Because ashes are acidic, leaving them in the pit can cause damage to the fire surround. For gas-powered pits, take a few minutes before turning them on to remove any leaves, twigs, or debris that may have fallen onto the glass or lava rocks.
A more thorough cleaning is based on how often you use the fire pit. Every type of pit should be cleaned at least twice a year and always before storing or winterizing.
Equipment / Tools
- Metal bucket or ash can
- Shovel or trowel
- Shop-vac (optional)
- Plastic bucket
- Scrub brush
- Sponge or soft cloth
- Rubber gloves
- Safety glasses
- Garden hose
- Old towels
- Muriatic acid
- Masonry sealant
- Dishwashing liquid
- Steel wool
How to Clean a Masonry Fire Pit
Always make sure that the embers are completely cold before attempting to remove ashes from a fire pit. Use a shovel or trowel to scoop out the ashes and place them in a metal bucket or ash can for disposal.
Wood ash can improve acidic soil because it is a good source of potassium. Have your garden soil tested to determine its pH and learn if wood ashes would be a good addition.
Mix a Cleaning Solution
In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of one part muriatic acid and nine parts water.
Scrub the Masonry
Wearing rubber gloves and eye protection, dip a scrub brush in the muriatic acid and water solution. Scrub the brick, rock, or cement blocks with the solution. Be sure to clean both the inside and outside of the pit. This will remove discoloration from creosote stains.
Use a garden hose to spray down the firepit to rinse away the dirt and cleaning solution. Allow the fire pit to air-dry completely, usually 48 to 72 hours, before using.
Once the freshly cleaned masonry is completely dry, consider using a masonry sealant to protect the fire pit from stains and make cleaning easier.
How to Clean a Cast Iron Fire Pit
Safely remove cold ashes. Use a shop-vac to capture any small amounts of ash that cannot be dipped out.
Scrub With Steel Wool
Fill a plastic bucket with hot water. Wearing rubber gloves, dip a piece of steel wool in the water and use it to scrub the interior of the cast iron bowl. Rinse the steel wool in the bucket often as needed.
Rinse and Dry
Using fresh hot water, rinse out the bowl. Immediately dry the cast iron inside and out with old towels. Cast iron rusts easily, so no water should ever be left standing in the fire pit.
How to Clean a Metal Fire Pit
Whether the fire pit is made of steel or copper, these steps can safely be used to keep it clean.
Empty the Ashes
Safely remove all of the ashes and debris.
Mix a Cleaning Solution
Fill a plastic bucket with warm water and add one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid.
Scrub the Surfaces
Dip a sponge or soft cloth in the cleaning solution and scrub the interior and exterior of the fire pit. If you have a cover for the fire pit, clean it with the same solution.
Rinse and Dry Well
Rinse the pit using a bucket of clean water or a garden hose. Dry the fire pit well with old towels to prevent rust from forming.
How to Clean a Gas Fire Pit
Before and after each use, carefully remove any debris like twigs and dead leaves.
Remove Exterior Dirt
A solution of warm soapy water and a sponge can be used to wipe down the exterior of the fire pit if it becomes discolored from soot or is dusty. Rinse by dipping a sponge in clean water and wiping away the soapy residue. Use a dry towel to dry and buff the exterior finish.
A gas technician should clean the gas jets and check connections yearly to keep them in good working order.
Tips for Maintaining Your Fire Pit
- Use a cover to shield the fire pit from the elements when not in use.
- Never pour cold water on a hot flame. A drastic change in temperature can shock masonry and metals, causing them to weaken and crack.
- Use dry, seasoned, split wood and no accelerants when building a fire to reduce creosote build-up.
- Clean and store portable fire pits in a covered area during the off-season.