Your stove cooktop is the single most frequently dirty surface in the kitchen. For many home cooks, it’s about all you can do to give the stove a quick wipe-down before cooking or at the end of the day. It’s also totally normal, if not advisable, to leave messes on the stove for days, weeks, even months. This is especially true of the mess that has baked itself onto the cooktop surface before you’re even done with the meal that created the spill.
Whether your stove has one cooked-on problem or is a nightmare waiting to be scrubbed, it’s important to thoroughly clean your stove cooktop periodically. A dirty stovetop puts you at greater risk of grease fires and of food-eating bacteria in the home. If you have a mess that’s hard to scrub and badly cooked-on, don’t worry. We have a few expert cleaning tips to share.
1. Start with Windex
One of the best tips we can give for cleaning the stove is to start with a grease-cutting surface cleaner. Windex is the common name brand, but off-brands are often similarly effective. Pick a disinfecting, grease-cutting surface cleaner in a spray bottle. Spray your entire stovetop, soak it in the cleaning solution. Wait a minute or two for the cleaner to sink in and start dissolving, then wipe the whole mess up with a (frequently rinsed) sponge or a few paper towels.
Cleaning using an Affresh product can also help.
This will help remove the grease layer from the top of your cooktop and make it easier to focus on the more stubborn burned-on messes.
2. Soak Your Burners & Drip Pans Overnight
Pull out both your burners and your drip pans. Burners can be soaked in a solution of hot water mixed with baking soda until it’s nearly a paste. Drip pans should be soaked in a similar solution or covered in oven cleaner and allowed to cure in a plastic bag.
Let them soak for a while. Allow your chosen cleaning solutions to dissolve deeper than the top layer. We advise an hour to overnight soaking for both the burners and drip pans.
3. Combine Borax and a Scrub Sponge
Ready to scrub off that crispy grime? The key here is a scrubbing powder. You can use Barkeeper’s Friend, salt, or baking soda as common fallbacks. We like borax best, granulated sodium borate. Borax is an excellent scrubbing agent that is both non-toxic and safe for stove enamel. Wet the scrubbing side of a sponge and then coat that scrub in borax. You can also sprinkle borax on your stove and then scrub with a wet sponge.
Pro Tip: Put your borax in a spice shaker. Keep one by the sink for non-stick-safe pan scrubbing.
4. Use a Soak-In Stove Cleaner
If the borax and your arm strength aren’t doing the trick, it’s time to soak that grime just like you’re doing with the burners and drip pans. We recommend a stove cleaner designed to foam and then sit on the stove for a few minutes. The longer a solution sits (up to a point), the deeper it can dissolve. With the right solution, you should be able to quickly wipe away the foam and grime at the same time, with little effort. Anything left will give in to another wave of borax scrubbing, or just the sponge alone.
5. Try a Dash of Oven Cleaner
If the stove cleaner didn’t work, try something stronger. Use a small amount of oven cleaner on the worst spots the same way you would stain-treat clothing before washing. Let it soak in the prescribed amount of time. You may want to leave the kitchen, as the oven cleaner tends to be stronger and more aggressively aromatic than stove cleaner. Return, wipe away and scrub again. You should get very satisfactory results.
6. Break Out the Razor
If all else fails, get a small craft razor or Exacto knife. If you are very careful not to damage the enamel, you can often lift the bottom edge of a baked-on piece of grime and lift or chip it away from there. Because the bottom of any grime patch must be perfectly smooth (to bond with the stovetop), a razor is often your best last resort.
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