How To Properly Clean Your Outdoor Fire Pit After Using It All Winter

During the winter, your fire pit may be the only reason you spend any time outside. Cuddling up near a roaring fire is a great way to enjoy some fresh air in snowy and freezing weather conditions. However, if you've been building fires throughout the entire season, chances are that your pit is looking a bit worn down. No matter what type you have, whether fixed or portable, wood or gas burning, or made out of metal, brick, or stone, it probably has a few signs of wear and tear. 

If so, it's important that you clean it out before spring comes into full swing. If you've never completed this task before, you may be curious as to why this is necessary. After all, isn't an outdoor fire pit supposed to be a bit dirty? And — since it's just where fires are started — it's bound to get dirty again, right? However, neglecting this chore could come with a few dangerous consequences that may just ruin your outdoor hangout spot forever. 

The dangers of a dirty fire pit

Leaving large piles of debris and ash in your fire pit is more dangerous than you might think. While it may be tempting to simply light large amounts of leftover leaves and other objects, this could create excessive stray embers that could either lead to a forest fire or land on you or the others gathered around the pit. Further, ashes are acidic, and if more than an inch sits on the bottom of your pit for too long, they could cause corrosion and lead to less effective fires. 

Gas units can also be damaged by debris if it ends up blocking the burners. For those who own a metal grate, water from melted snow or rain could lead to rust, which would eventually wear down the material and cause it to crack. It also goes without saying that a clean fire pit is much more appealing to look at than one that's covered in ash, dirt, and rust.

The three steps to make it spotless

Luckily, cleaning an outdoor fire pit is quite a simple task. Before you begin, it's important to protect your face and hands by wearing goggles, a mask, and gloves. You'll also want to wait until at least a day after your most recent fire has been put out to clean it, as ashes can continue to smolder long after the fire is gone. 

The first step is to remove everything, including leaves, ashes, debris, and wood. This can be done with gloved hands or a small shovel and broom. Second, you'll need to scrub the surface of either a metal, stone, or brick pit with hot water and a small amount of dishwashing soap on a stiff brush. Third, simply rinse the pit with your hose. If the pit is metal, make sure you dry it well with a soft cloth, as this will protect it against rust. 

There are also some ways to maintain your fire pit so that it lasts for a long time. Investing in a cover will protect it from weather damage, or if it's portable, be sure to store it in a dry place. You can also scoop out extra ashes and place them in a metal bucket a day after every use to ensure the pit is always ready to go.