Good home cooking gets messy, and plenty of that mess spills onto the stove and into the oven. While you’re enjoying your meal, those messes are hardening, accumulating and waiting to start billowing smoke during the next night’s dinner prep.
Cleaning a dirty stove and oven can take quite a while if you try to overpower every stain and spill with sheer elbow grease. But if you use these smart cleaning hacks, you can save time, effort and even the finish on your stove:
- Make your own oven cleaner. Store-bought oven cleaner is a really effective solution, but it only takes a minute to make your own using cheap, common household ingredients. Make a paste out of baking soda and water, then use a paper towel to smear it all over the inside surfaces of the oven, including the door. After letting that set for at least fifteen minutes, put some white vinegar in a spray bottle and spritz it over the paste, which will create foaming action. Wait another fifteen minutes before wiping clean with paper towels.
- Clean removable parts overnight. A can of oven cleaner is needed for this hack, but it’s the easiest way to clean your oven racks, burner drip pans and gas stove burner covers. Just put all these parts in a garbage bag, spray them liberally with oven cleaner, seal the bag and allow it to sit overnight. In the morning, rinse the parts and give them a spin in the dishwasher if a little grime remains.
- Clean the gap between oven door glass panes. To reach this tricky spot, look for an opening at the bottom of the door. This slot is usually hidden by a storage drawer or a removable panel. Once you can get inside, stretch out a wire coat hanger, cover it with a dusting cloth and secure it in place with a rubber band. Slide this tool into the slot to get all the crumbs and grease out of this hard-to-reach area.
- Get a razor-edge scraper for flat cooktops. These handy tools can shave the baked-on gunk right off your glass or ceramic cooktop. Just hold it at a 45-degree angle and slowly, carefully scrape the mess away. For tough spills, spray them with a little warm water and let them soften up for 20 minutes first.
- Conduct a controlled burn. To self-clean electric coil cooktops, just turn them to their hottest setting while the stovetop is clear. After about five minutes, most stuck-on food will burn up and fall off. You may want to temporarily disable the smoke detectors first -- this trick will produce smoke. Just be sure to enable them again immediately afterward!
- Clean coil burners with baking soda paste. If they’re still a little gunky after burning off the big stuff, remove the burners and smear a baking soda and water paste over the dirty areas. Be careful not to get the electrical contacts wet. After 30 minutes, use a scouring pad to scrub the problem areas and rinse clean.
- Clean as you go. Buy a few cheap dish rags and leave them in a neatly folded stack near your stove. Whenever you have a spill, grab and rag and wipe it up. Throw your used rags straight into the wash at the end of the night. If you make this a habit, you can keep your stove looking great between more thorough cleanings.
While you're cleaning, be sure to look closely for any signs of malfunction or damage, such as blackened burner outlets, exposed wires or burning smells that linger after the cooktop has been completely cleaned. If you notice these problems or others, or if your sparkling stove inspires you to dive into a kitchen remodel, your local Mister Sparky electricians are ready to help.