When it comes to cleaning cooking appliances, there are many nuances depending on type, but at least three universal rules:
- Know your appliance. Is it gas, electric, induction, or modular? Is the oven self-cleaning, continuous, or manual? Is venting by hood or downdraft? And, is the surface glass, ceramic, porcelain, enamel, or stainless? Be sure to read and follow manufacturers’ guidance for cleaning.
- Avoid abrasives (whelp!). Sadly, the household appliance most likely to acquire tough, cooked-on gunk — the kind you’ll be most tempted to scrape or scrub with heavy abrasives — is also the most vulnerable to scratching or etching, which will cause it to appear dull over time.
- Clean as you go. Precisely because most cooking appliances cannot be safely abraded or scraped, it’s best to get into a habit of cleaning frequently when cooking spills are safely cooled, but still fresh.
With these universal truths in mind, here are some PRO tips for cleaning the major different oven and cooktop types.
Self-cleaning/heat. Heat self-cleaning ovens use extremely high temperatures (up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit!) to incinerate cooked-on gunk, leaving a fine ash that can be easily swept away. The problem is they also generate smoke and soot, stink up your house, melt or warp plastic knobs, and can prematurely burnout your oven’s heating mechanism, mandating expensive repairs. The smoke can be especially toxic for pets. Best advice is to use high-heat cleaning only rarely and never immediately prior to entertaining. Be sure to remove the racks and, if choosing to clean manually, never introduce chemical oven cleaners.
Self-cleaning/steam. Less damaging than high-heat types, these are not strictly self-cleaning as you’ll still need to use some elbow grease with an all-purpose cleaner to remove the gunk and grime loosened by the steam.
Textured/continuous cleaning. This type of oven has an interior coating that works with day-to-day cooking heat to oxidize spills, leaving a light debris that can be swept away. While these oven types occasionally need heavier-duty cleaning, an all-purpose cleaner will generally suffice.
Manual. This is the kind of oven those smelly, toxic oven cleaners are made for. The good news is that, with a little patience and perhaps a takeout dinner, you can use the baking soda method to avoid all the toxicity. Being mildly alkaline, baking soda reacts chemically with oven grease and grime, causing it to lift away, though it can take up to 24 hours to work its magic.
Gas. Both burners and drip pans can be removed completely, submerged, and soaked in hot water with an all-purpose cleaner. As most gas burners are ceramic, handle gently and avoid abrasives and harsh scrubbing.
Electric/coil. Popular for their durability, both the electric coils and drip pans can typically withstand more scrubbing than gas burners. Gently remove coils to clean, but never submerge. Dry completely before plugging back in. The baking soda method works here too on tough gunk.
Electric/glass. Lacking cracks and crevices, these cooktops are tougher to maintain than you might think. Spills harden as you wait for the surface to cool, and dragging pots and pans across the surface can cause etching that minimizes potential to shine over time. Use an all-purpose, non-abrasive cleaner to dissolve grease and grime and, when necessary, a razor blade or scraper to gently remove cooked-on crud.
Induction/glass. Unlike electric, these sleek cooktops generate heat only when interacting with specialized magnetic cookware. They also cool nearly instantly, making them the easiest to clean as spills can be wiped safely before they harden.
Ceramic/enamel/porcelain/stainless. While all are relatively stain-resistant and easy to clean, these cooktop finishes are—to varying degrees—susceptible to scratching and damage from abrasives. Especially avoid so-called magic sponges, which abrade with microbeads of glass that can permanently damage these finishes!
Remember the ventilation system! Accumulated grease in oven and cooktop ventilation systems is a huge household fire hazard. The good news is most have removable grease filters that are also relatively easy to clean.
Perhaps the easiest route to a sparkling clean oven and cooktop is to have someone else do the cleaning for you! Check with your local MaidPro to see if they offer special deep-cleaning services for large household appliances.