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A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
Doug is a hardcore barbeque enthusiast and connoisseur. While he spends most of his time on editing and research, he sometimes moonlights as a product tester for particularly interesting things he comes across.
Even if you cook infrequently, periodic stove cleaning helps your kitchen and its appliances stay in peak condition. Grease and grime doesn’t always appear obvious on dark stovetops but can become sticky or even start to smell over time. The grime can transfer to your pans and make it harder to clean them after each meal.
Modern stoves are designed to be easy to clean, but there are still best practices for cleaning them. Glass and cast iron surfaces are particularly vulnerable to damage if you use the wrong products. Here’s how to clean the stove safely without spending excessive time scrubbing tough stains.
1. Cleaning the Surface
The smooth, even surface of the stove should be easy to clean with soap and water. Use a sponge with a plain surface or a plastic scrubber to avoid scratching the finish. Make sure to remove all soap from the stove once you’re finished in order to leave a sparkling clean surface.
Some very sticky spots may need a degreaser to clean, but be sure to buy a product that’s safe to use on stovetops. You can use a metal scraper specifically designed on glass electric stoves if the scraper is specifically designed for glass and the stove manufacturer instructions allow it. If you’re unsure how to clean the stove, double-check the instruction manual and look online for an appropriate product.
2. Dealing with Burners
Electric coil burners are designed to be unplugged and carefully washed by hand. Because the burners are usually coated to resist sticky spots and stains, you should be able to get any grease off with just a sponge and warm water. If needed, use a small amount of soap, but make sure to rinse it away thoroughly without getting the electrical contacts wet.
Gas burners require gentle cleaning with a toothbrush to make sure no food particles are stuck inside. Most food and residue should come out easily without soap. If you suspect that something large is stuck inside where you can’t reach it, contact a maintenance technician for support instead of trying to handle it yourself.
3. Scrubbing Drip Plates
Your stove may have small drip plates under the burners that help catch stray food and liquid. Usually, these drip plates are removable for easier cleaning, but remember which plate goes back in which spot on the stove.
Drip plates may require more scrubbing than burners and other parts because of how much food falls into them. Try soaking them in either soap and hot water or a 1:1 water and vinegar mixture. Then wash with a nylon scraper or textured sponge.
4. Getting Cooked-On Stains
Figuring out how to clean the stove gets more difficult when heavy stains are involved, especially on gas stoves’ metal grates. Caked-on grease that doesn’t come off grates easily may require extra soaking in the sink.
Plug the bottom of the sink and fill it with hot, soapy water or water and vinegar, then leave the grates for 10-15 minutes. After that, the grease and grime should wash off with relative ease. You can also try scrubbing a mixture of soap and baking soda onto the dirtiest areas or use a powder cleanser that’s specifically designed for metal.
You can clean uncoated grates using a strong plastic sponge or non-scratching nylon scraper, but avoid using steel wool or a metal scouring pad. Metal can damage the cast iron that most stove grates are made of. Grates coated with enamel paint also need a careful touch, so avoid scrapers unless the stove manufacturer directions say otherwise.
Since it’s essential that all stained surfaces of the grate can fit under water for soaking, large grates might require a larger container for cleaning. Try soaking grates in a strong, large plastic container with warm water and soap. You can also use baking soda or a powder cleanser.
In a worst-case scenario, you may need to use ammonia to soak the grates for a few hours. Make sure to loosely cover the container you’ve placed the ammonia and grates in and place it in a ventilated area, and never mix any other cleaning solutions with ammonia. Double-check the ammonia cleaner’s directions to make sure you use it safely.
5. Dishwasher-Safe Parts
Gas stove grates are not usually designed for dishwasher use, but some are sized and coated in a way that makes them safe to clean in the dishwasher. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for information on which settings to use and any restrictions on dishwasher soaps.
Once a part has been cleaned in the dishwasher, make sure to hand-dry it thoroughly before putting it back into place. Even a small amount of remaining moisture could cause mildew or rust later.
6. Minor Stains
Even with deep cleaning and scrubbing, very old stoves will inevitably show some minor staining. Cleaning your stove regularly helps prevent this, but if the previous owner didn’t take good care of the stove, then you may be stuck with some minor cosmetic damage.
If you are selling or renting your home, you can usually buy replacement parts for stoves if the stove’s appearance could be off-putting to potential buyers or renters. However, repainting the stove grates with temperature-resistant epoxy paint goes a long way if you’re careful and follow the directions carefully. This is a much safer option than trying to scrub with steel wool and damaging the metal.
7. Getting into a Routine
Wipe your stovetop down briefly after every use. Most people should deep clean the stove monthly or whenever you spill significant amounts of food or liquid, but if you use it daily, consider cleaning it more often.
Try to pick a consistent time to deep-clean the stove each month to make it harder to forget. For example, doing it the first weekend of the month may be a good option.
Once you’re used to which products and cleaning methods work best for your stove, you’ll be able to clean it quickly and easily. The first time may be the hardest due to caked-on grime and grease, but with more regular cleaning, your stove can be an impressive focal point in your kitchen.