The first step in cleaning potbelly stoves is typically removing the ash once it has completely cooled. You can initially use a shovel to get the majority of ash out of your stove and then follow that up by using a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment to get out any remaining debris. After as much of the ash as possible is gone, you can wipe the inside of your stove out with a damp rag. You will need to make sure that you get the inside of your stove completely dry before closing it back up to prevent the interior from rusting, which is a legitimate concern because the majority of potbelly stoves are made almost entirely of iron.
It is very important to wait until the ash inside your stove is completely cool before attempting to shovel it out. Depending on how hot your fire was, it could take as much as a day or more to be sure that the ash inside your stove is no longer dangerous to touch. Once you have allowed adequate time for your ashes to cool, you can start removing them from your stove.
One of the most important things to think about while you clean ashes out of potbelly stoves is where to dispose of the ashes. You want to make sure that you get as little ash as possible on the floor surrounding your stove. When you shovel the ash out of your stove, you can deposit it into an ash bucket that can be covered with a lid. Try to keep the bucket as close to the door of your stove as possible to decrease the chances of ash getting on your floors. When you have shoveled out as much ash as possible, you should carry the ash bucket outside and dispose of the ash inside a garbage bag.
Cleaning the outside of most potbelly stoves is a fairly simple process. In most cases, a damp rag is all that is needed to wipe ash and other debris from the exterior of a potbelly stove. After you have gotten the outside of your stove as clean as possible, you should use a dry cloth to absorb any excess moisture left on the outside of the stove, which should help keep your stove from rusting. It may also be a good idea to notice the floor around the bottom of your stove. Chances are good that at some point during the cleaning process some ash has made its way onto your floor, and you should wipe it up as soon as you notice it so that it doesn't end up getting tracked through your home.