How to Clean a Cast-Iron Fireplace Cover

Lisa Maloney

Cast-iron fireplace covers and screens will last just about forever, if well taken care of. A seasoned finish protects them from most corrosion, but if that finish becomes scratched or otherwise damaged, rust may set in.

Cast-iron fireplace screens are also subject to the same dirt, ash and soot build-up that other fireplace screens must endure. A good cleaning will remove all of these as well as remove any rust on your cast-iron fireplace screen and protect it against further corrosion.

  1. Spread out a tarp, several layers of newspaper or several large garbage bags to protect your floor. Lay the fireplace cover down flat on this protective layer, with the surface to be cleaned facing up.

  2. Wipe any surface debris or ash away from the fireplace cover with a clean, dry cloth. You can also vacuum this debris away with the hose attachment on your vacuum cleaner.

  3. Scrape away any stubborn debris crusted on to the fireplace cover with a plastic spoon.

  4. Sprinkle salt on any remaining debris. Cut a lemon in half and use the cut face of the lemon as a scrubber on the salt-covered surface. This should scour off any remaining stuck-on ash, dirt or soot. To clean areas with fine detailing, sprinkle salt on the area, squeeze some lemon juice on to it, then scrub with an old toothbrush.

  5. Remove any corrosion from the cast-iron fireplace cover by scrubbing at it with a wire brush. If you have a plastic tub large enough to put the corroded portion of the cover into, you can also submerge the corroded area in cola. Let it sit for three days, agitating the cola in the tub at least twice a day. The rust should be gone when you pull the cover out of the tub.

  6. Wipe the fireplace cover down with a damp rag.

  7. Dry off the fireplace cover immediately, either by wiping it dry with a clean, dry rag or leaving it in front of a fire or other heat source to dry. If you let it stand with water on it, it will rust.

  8. Remove any lingering soot marks by kneading a fist-sized ball of light colored children's modeling clay until it is soft. Press the clay onto the soot and lift it directly off: The soot should come away on the clay.

  9. Apply a light film of mineral oil to the entire screen or cover and leave it to soak in. This will help to protect the surface from any further rust or corrosion.