Kitchens have come a long way over the decades, especially that cooking workhorse, the stove. First came electric stoves in the 1930s, which eliminated the terrifying risk of a gas leak. Today's electric stoves aren't limited to just those metal conductive coils, though. Smooth glass-ceramic cooktops give kitchens a sleek, modern look, but may leave homeowners wondering how to clean an electric stove without ruining its surface.
Before you scrub anything, always read the maintenance section of the owner's manual for your specific model. This will spell out which products you should and shouldn't use. Abrasive cleansers or Brillo pads, for instance, can scratch certain cooktops, warns Brian Sansoni, a cleaning expert at the American Cleaning Institute in Washington, DC.
Here's how to clean this appliance without doing more damage than good.
How to clean an electric stove, whether or not it's glass-ceramic
Before cleaning, always make sure your stove is completely off and cooled to room temperature. Then tackle the cleaning, following the steps outlined below.
Glass-ceramic cooktop: Whether it's an induction stove or an electric stove, smooth glass-ceramic cooktops can be high-maintenance when it comes to cleaning, because they are easily scratched. Use only cleaning pads and solutions specifically designed for the appliance, many of which are sold by the manufacturer.
Wipe the cool glass cooktop with a damp cleaning pad to remove spills. Then dab on glass-ceramic cooktop cleaner and gently rub the entire surface in a circular motion. Wipe clean with a dry cloth. If gunk still remains, hold a cooktop scraper at a 45-degree angle and remove residue with a slight pressure.
Metal heating elements: If you have a more traditional type of electric stove, you'll want to first remove the coiled heating elements with a gentle tug. Wipe them clean with a damp cloth, taking care not to get the electric connection wet. If stubborn stains remain, apply a paste of baking soda and water to the coil and let sit for about 15 minutes. This will loosen any gunk, allowing you to then scrub it off.
Drip pans: You have some leeway when cleaning these steel reflector bowls. Some people toss them into the dishwasher to clean everyday stains. But if liquids such as marinara sauce and eggs harden, you should soak the drip pans in your kitchen sink and scrub them with a Brillo pad. Another option is to spray drip pans with an oven cleaner, let set for 10 minutes, and rinse. (Always open your windows when spraying oven cleaner, which is caustic.)
The nitty-gritty: Little-known fact: Most traditional electric stovetops open upward, like the way you'd raise a car hood. That's so you can clean in there, wiping spills around burners with a damp sponge. While you're in there, also take care to remove any grime from the fuel ports with a straight pin or paper clip.
Enamel-coated stovetop: Spray with a mild detergent, and scrub with a nylon pad -- steel wool can scratch the surface. A spritz of white vinegar will make the enamel shine.
Stainless-steel stovetop: Clean with a stainless-steel or all-purpose cleaner, taking care to towel-dry it quickly to combat wet spots. To dissolve deep stains, spray with a nonabrasive, all-purpose cleaner and cover with a damp paper towel for 15 minutes. Scrape residue with a plastic or rubber scraper, wipe clean, and towel-dry.
How to keep a stove clean
The key to keeping any appliance clean is preventive care. And that's especially true for those glass-ceramic stovetops that turn spills hard as a rock if you don't wipe them up immediately.
To "make things easier on yourself," Sansoni says, "wipe down the stovetop when the stains first get there."
Try to clean the range top with a soft cloth soaked in warm, soapy water or your favorite cleaning solution on a daily basis. And aim to tackle the stovetop for a thorough cleaning, taking it apart if necessary, every week.