My stovetop is sad
January 2, 2019 9:13 AM   Subscribe

My stovetop has lots of burnt on stuff and general ickiness. How can I give it the deep clean it deserves?

It's a small, old gas stove in my apartment. I don't know the material of the top but it's white (enamel? Porcelain?). Yes, I know I should clean it after every use but I don't. All the options I find online are for people who regularly clean their stovetop or for stainless steel.

What I've tried:
All-purpose cleaner: good at getting the top layer of grime
Degreaser: did nothing. Maybe try a different brand?
Magic Eraser: By far the best gets most of it but there's still more residue than I'd like
Baking soda/vinegar paste: Better than all-purpose, worse than magic eraser.

Please help.
posted by Aranquis to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure what you're referring to with "all-purpose cleanser," but Soft Scrub was made for this kind of thing. Let it sit for a bit and go after it with the heavy-duty scrubbers, or even a Brillo pad.
posted by praemunire at 9:19 AM on January 2, 2019

Hot water and comet powder?
posted by Julnyes at 9:24 AM on January 2, 2019

I've had beautiful results from Soft Scrub also, if you haven't tried that yet.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:24 AM on January 2, 2019

Bartenders Friend + Magic Eraser is the best combination I've found.
posted by something something at 9:27 AM on January 2, 2019 [5 favorites]

The only thing that ever worked reliably for me is Bar Keepers Friend.
posted by General Malaise at 9:27 AM on January 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Hi. This was also me, and I'd also tried all the things you tried and every other product mentioned so far in the thread.

A few months ago I finally put my stovetop pieces in the oven with oven cleaner. The standard time is two hours. Took them out, applied lots of elbow grease, decided they needed another round. After the second round and more elbow grease I've removed about 75% of the original burned on gunk. They need a third round but I haven't gotten to it. I used blue sponges for the elbow grease portion; I probably would have had better results from a slightly more abrasive sponge or scrub brush. I would not suggest using a wire brush though, I believe that would ruin the finish.
posted by vignettist at 9:32 AM on January 2, 2019

I was coming in to say precisely what vignettist said above as I had the same problem and used this same solution. I'm assuming that the burnt-on-food part is on the burner ring things themselves, by the way; just mentioning that in case it needed mentioning.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:35 AM on January 2, 2019

Oh, on re-reading your post I should clarify that my issue is with the burners and burner caps, not the stovetop itself. I'm pretty sure it's against the directions to use oven cleaner in an open/unenclosed area as it's pretty nasty stuff.
posted by vignettist at 9:35 AM on January 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Spray on some windex-type cleaner and walk away for a few minutes. Come back and stuff should come right off with a scrubby sponge.
posted by mareli at 9:39 AM on January 2, 2019

I don't know where in the world you are shopping, so I won't assume that you have access to the same stuff as I do... but over here, there is a heavy-duty degreaser that's based on soap and lye. It cuts right through polymerized grease, which is a big part of what you're dealing with.
If you can get anything that fits that description, spray it on and leave it be for 15 minutes... that should make everything easy to remove.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:21 AM on January 2, 2019

Before scrubbing any flat parts, scrape off as much as you can with a razor blade (with a holder such as this).
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:27 AM on January 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Adding to my previous comment: the stuff may be marketed as engine cleaner in your neck of the woods. Bright yellow stuff, comes in a spray bottle.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:39 AM on January 2, 2019

Every white enamel stovetop I've cleaned has had no problem holding up to a stainless steel scrubber. I'd try that plus oven cleaner. Wear thick gloves
posted by Dmenet at 10:42 AM on January 2, 2019

The window cleaner works because of ammonia (or similar chemical), so you could try just diluted ammonia, but you'll want gloves and good ventilation, as ammonia is nasty stuff.

Jolie Kerr suggests sprinkling baking soda everywhere, then spritzing with vinegar to let the foaming action work on it.

Chances are you're just going to have to do multiple rounds of soaking/scrubbing with whatever product you use. It deposited in layers and over time, so it's not all gonna come off at once.

I did a deep clean of my stovetop last week, and was surprised at the grease-cutting ability of good ol' Formula 409, if you haven't tried that. But it also took some elbow grease and alternating between a blue scrubby sponge and magic erasers. You want to give whatever product you use time to soak if you can. If it drips too much or dries too quickly, you can try soaking rags/paper towels with the product and laying that over the stovetop. Anything you can remove, soak in the sink in hot water and your cleaning product of choice.
posted by misskaz at 11:15 AM on January 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is what Easy-Off is for. Oven cleaner, grates, plastic bag, overnight. They should be sturdy enough to go in the oven on the cleaning cycle, but I have not actually done that. I often out F.Y.I in the dishwasher. You can use oven cleaner on the crud around the burners, too. Let it sit for quite a while. For generally cruddy stove cleaning, I use Ajax cleanser. It may etch the enamel over time; I'm fine with that. Oven cleaner is nasty, use ventilation.

I do the stovetop often, but the heat of cooking bakes tomato sauce and stuff, so I will put a wet sponge on it while I do other stuff, it will wipe off easily in a few minutes.
posted by theora55 at 12:46 PM on January 2, 2019

OVEN CLEANER. I was so god damned pissed that I spent the last 30 years of being a tenant scrubbing with green pads and pass upon pass of Simple Green before discovering a couple of years ago that oven cleaner doesn't have to be just for ovens.
posted by rhizome at 2:06 PM on January 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Holy smokes, y'all, please be careful with the oven cleaner! Like rubber gloves, eye protection, and attention to ventilation careful.
posted by praemunire at 2:34 PM on January 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

For 3 dimensional burnt on crud, sometimes you have to go old-school and get out a razor blade. I use a straight razor blade in a plastic handle designed to turn it into a scraper. It won't damage your stovetop if you're careful to keep it very flat and not let the corners dig in. Scrape straight across, get the bulk of it, and then go back and try these other methods.

This is the only thing that works for the stuff that accumulates right around the burners on my white enamel stove.
posted by telepanda at 2:38 PM on January 2, 2019

Holy smokes, y'all, please be careful with the oven cleaner! Like rubber gloves, eye protection, and attention to ventilation careful.

All of those things are good, but this also isn't 8 molar lye. The worst I've had is soapy fingertips (it melts the fat in your skin), though of course I didn't try spraying in my face.
posted by rhizome at 3:05 PM on January 2, 2019

This is a long shot, but if a significant part of the problem is a layer of greasy stuff and detritus, and if you have a cat, and if that cat has one of those flat rectangular corrugated cardboard scratchpads: take a used cardboard scratchpad you probably have around, tear a square out of it, and try wiping off a bit of the stove while pressing the honeycomb part down firmly. A good deal of the gunk will get picked up by the cardboard, which will now look kind of disgusting. Discard it, get a new square, repeat until most of the gunk is off and then wash with dishsoap and sponge.
posted by sacchan at 3:06 PM on January 2, 2019

I like Simple Green. You can find it best in hardware/restaurant store in a concentrated gallon jug. I first used it to clean the yellow off of old computer cases 30 years ago and it hasn't been replaced for the generic cleaner/de-greaser/mop-the-floor/clean-the-windows soap-like thing. Dilute according to instructions, let it set for a while, works surprisingly well. (And you can mop your floors with it or clean windows, probably do laundry).

While you're at the hardware/restaurant store pick up a scraper/spatula. Cleaning gunk off with a razor blade is asking for an emergency room visit to get stitches.
posted by zengargoyle at 8:16 PM on January 2, 2019

I like the degreaser Krud Kutter.
posted by slateyness at 8:47 PM on January 2, 2019

One morning when you will not be using the stove, get a few dishrags that are soft and plyable and get them saturated with strong detergent or degreaser or whatever you have in the house and are willing to use and wrap them around the crud so they cover it completely. They should be wet enough that there is ooze seeping out of them. As you go through your day - baking in the oven is a good way to stay close by so you don't forget, and the heat below helps - from time to time add a little boiling water, from your kettle to the rags to keep them saturated for six hours or so.

At the end of the six hours or so remove the rags and see what happens if you scrape the crud. It may have softened enough to scrape off without hacking violently. This is an alternative to oven cleaner that may work to soften that nasty burnt on grease stuff which will not produce fumes that kill the house birds.

I find a non stick spatula useful as a scraper,. You can also use plastic cutlery if you are trying to find a use for that plastic knife that came in your take out so that it is not single-use. Neither will work if the stuff is not soft enough, but if they do work they should be quite safe to use and not risk wrecking the finish.

Incidentally, when you scrape the gunk off you may see that the area the gunk covered is damaged and think you have just done it. But if the stove was not new to you it may have been the previous owner doing the same kind of a deep clean.

If you are trying to avoid cleaners and degreasers for the sake of your birds, or your own environmental sensitivities and boiling water doesn't work, try covering the burnt crud with a dribble of oil and leaving it to stand for six to twenty-four hours before cleaning. Sometimes the oil can soften things that boiling water or detergent cannot. This is a long shot, but alternating oil with detergent with soap can work when nothing short of sand blasting will, as the oil acts as a solvent on some types of molecules who are resistant to water and soap, and resistant to detergent. If you try brandy as your soaking liquid it almost always evaporates too quickly to be useful, but creates a fun effect if someone doesn't know what you are doing and turns the burner on before you can wipe the brandy up.

Laundry stain remover is another surprisingly good de-greaser that you might already have in the house. Do not use around birds or asthmatics.

And then there is the possibility of a kitchen blow torch, if you happen to have one in the house for caramelizing the tops of your creme brule.

I haven't tried emery paper yet, but I am interested in the experiment.
posted by Jane the Brown at 10:50 AM on January 3, 2019

If you are able to take the parts that need cleaning outside, carb and choke cleaner (sometimes called gumout) from the auto section works great and is cheaper than cleaners marketed to cleaning stoves or ovens. Once it gets the crusties off, give the parts a thorough rinsing and wash with a hose.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:12 AM on January 4, 2019

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