Cleaning a stainless steel cooktop.
April 4, 2006 11:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm, seeking way to clean a stainless steel electric cooktop. I have a 20 year-old Jenn-Air and the cooktop has become discolored in places by greasy smoke drawn to the downdraft. I have tried Dawn Degreaser, which works very well on fresh grease, but not this, and also a Scunci Steamer which was useless. Dawn + Scunci = nada. (Except some interesting fumes.)

Obviously I want to avoid scratching the surface so wire brushes, et al, are out. Any tips from you geniuses out there?
posted by KevinKarl to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Goo Be Gone.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:14 PM on April 4, 2006

I don't know what your cooktop is made of. If it's glass, try TSP, a powerful degreaser that will burn your skin if it gets a chance. If that fails, I'd use oven cleaner. Don't get either of these cleaners on painted or wood surfaces. I use both of them as appropriate to remove baked-on residue from stainless steel pans. 3M pads are very good for scrubbing; if you're worried about scratches, the green one might be too harsh. The white is pretty gentle, though.
posted by wryly at 12:17 PM on April 4, 2006

Scotch-Brite (wryly's 3M) pads are highly abrasive; they have silicon carbide bits bonded to the filaments. If you pick the wrong grade of pad, you'll wind up with spots that are more matte or more glossy than your original surface. Oven cleaner might work. I know that the two I named do, with some elbow grease.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:22 PM on April 4, 2006

I found a product called "Cooktop Magic" that works much better on my non-stanless steel stove than any other cleaner for burned-on crud. No idea what's in it. There are also specialty cleaners for stainless steel. Oven cleaner cleaned my stainless steel toaster oven top brilliantly, but that stuff is VERY corrosive and when it dripped on the label that marks the temperature, it wiped it right off!

I wouldn't recommend using a highly abrasive pad on the steel. You can potentially scratch a pattern into it that's not removable.
posted by underwater at 12:33 PM on April 4, 2006

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser cleans the grease right off my white enamel stove. You should test it in some inconspicuous area to see if it scratches. I also have a gallon of some neon-green degreaser I got at a restaurant supply house, but it doesn't work as well as the Magic Eraser with plain water.
posted by Joleta at 12:49 PM on April 4, 2006

I had the exact same solution. Fortunately, there is a magic solution: pumice stones.

Seriously, a pumice stone-- don't ask me why-- can be incredible for this kind of thing. I discovered one and used it to clean my ten-year-old stove just before I moved out of my last house, and it suddenly looked brand new. I was pretty amazed, especially considering that I'd tried all the stuff you mention, as well as all the scouring pads and such available. It's best because, though it's quite abrasive, it doesn't scratch most delicate surfaces, like ceramic stovetops. I even used it on the glass window to the oven without any scratches, although YMMV.

As far as availability, you can, of course, get it on the internet, but I've seen it in a lot of hardware stores.
posted by Viomeda at 12:54 PM on April 4, 2006

Barkeeper's Friend. That and the aforementioned Scotchbrite pad.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:02 PM on April 4, 2006

Can you take this off the cook top or do you have to clean in situ? We took the most disgusting vent cover from an rented apartment range hood - soaked it in a some hot water, water softener (find it in the detergent isle) and some ammonia and the thing literally cleaned itself. Maybe a solution of such sprayed on and left to sit would work equally well. I think this was a Haley's Hint we saw during our local PBS pledge drive...
posted by Wolfie at 1:02 PM on April 4, 2006

The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is amazing and scary. I've had nothing but amazing and scary success with it, including cleaning the nastified baked on old grease that accumulates on and around rangetops. Amazing. And scary.

Barring the MCME (seriously, get one and be astounded) I've found the best run-of-the-mill cleanser for degreasing purposes is Formula 409.
posted by penchant at 1:49 PM on April 4, 2006

I've used Bon Ami cleanser on a stainless steel kettle. It doesn't leave scratches and it's biodegradable. Make a paste, and leave it on overnight. I wrap a soft cloth around a spoon, and scrub with that, instead of using the 3M pads.

Also, soaking bad spots in Windex helped me.
posted by hooray at 1:56 PM on April 4, 2006

Kirth Gerson - I tried the Goo Be Gone - sounded like and excellent idea. Surprisingly, it didn't touch it. I'd really rather only resort to abrasive pads if all else fails.

wryly - thanks for the TSP idea.

underwater - that Cooktop Magic scares the hell out of me

joleta and penchant - now why didnt I think of the magic eraser? And it is kind of scary, isn't it? It got the black stains off, but not the brown smoke stains.

Thorzdad- Barkeepers Friend is also my friend. It got the brown stains off with some elbow grease.

Thank you all for your instant suggestions. I really appreciate it!
posted by KevinKarl at 3:48 PM on April 4, 2006

We love the Magic Eraser, and now keep them stocked with the rest of our cleaning supplies. They're just amazing (even though they're just melamine foam; a mild abrasive).
posted by mrbill at 5:17 PM on April 4, 2006

Try lemon before more abrasive stuff. SOAK in fresh lemon juice and scrub with a plastic mesh scrubber.

You don't want to go using abrasive cleansers on your nice stainless steel. Pumice stone? Seriously?
posted by scarabic at 9:03 PM on April 4, 2006

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