My stove gets a workout. Between cooking from scratch and canning and preserving, there are plenty of spills, drips and stains. I wipe up the main surfaces daily, often multiple times per day, but the drip pans and the grates over the burners are usually too hot to clean until later – when I'm on to another task. In the over, things do run over occasionally, so that must be dealt with as well. When I went searching for “natural stove cleaners” and “natural stove top cleaners”, I came up with images of stoves with just minor baked on smudges and smears. I figured I can't be the only one out there with a really grimy stove looking for a non-toxic option, so I decided to share what works for me.
You can see which wheels get the most use by the relative grime levels. The cleanest one one the rear right is a baby burner that doesn't get used much. I prefer to start cleaning in the evening after supper is finished, and let parts soak overnight before scrubbing first thing in the morning to complete cleaning. If your stove isn't this dirty, you can skip soaking and just use the natural stove cleaner options and some elbow grease.
Natural Stove Cleaners – 3 Easy Recipes
There are many different option for natural stove and oven cleaners. The simplest are straight baking soda, vinegar (or lemon juice) and dish detergent – no recipes needed. If you'd like a little more scrubbing power, try these easy homemade stove and kitchen cleaners.
Stove Cleaner #1 – Homemade “soft scrub”
1 part each:
- table salt
- baking soda
Stove Cleaner #2 – Grease Cutting Powder
- 4 parts baking soda
- 1 part washing soda
Store in a shaker container
Stove Cleaner #3 – Citrus Vinegar Cleaner for Grease and Grime
Place citrus peels (any type) in a glass jar (pack fairly tightly) and cover with white vinegar. Place lid on, and let steep for two weeks. Strain out peels. Mix infused vinegar with an equal amount of water and place in a spray bottle to use.
Step by Step Stove Cleaning
To begin cleaning, carefully take apart the stove top. (Make sure it's cooled off first). Remove the drip trays and grates. On an electric stove with visible coil burners, you can carefully remove the drip pans and rings. Put drip trays and grates (or drip pans and rings), into a sink full of hot water and some dish soap.
While the stove top parts are soaking, carefully clean behind any knobs by pulling the knobs straight out so you can get behind them.
Don't twist or force! The knobs should pull off with gentle but firm pressure, and should only go on and off one way. Be careful not to accidentally turn on the gas or burner while cleaning the knobs. Use a little dish soap or some of the cleansers if the area needs more TLC.
Wipe down (or scrub) the stove top. Avoid getting cleaner on your igniters (gas stoves), or you may have to manually light your burners the first time you use them to burn the film off. Watch out for your heating coils and connections on electric stoves.
After cleaning behind the knobs and stove top, go back to the drip trays and grates. If drip trays are grimy, coat with baking soda or other natural cleaner. Spray with citrus vinegar, and let the pans sit while working on the rest of stove top. Scrub with a copper scouring pad to remove cooked on grime. Chore Boy copper scrubbers are the sturdiest I've found. I prefer copper scrubbers to steel wool because they don't rust and are less irritating on my skin. Copper is also naturally resistant to bacteria. They're using in some hospitals now for door handles and faucets to help prevent disease transmission. Pretty cool, huh?
Dealing with Cooked On Stove Grime
Scraping away the worst of the cooked on food with a razor blade scraper or other handy blade will save a lot of time and effort scrubbing. I keep a couple of cheap dollar store paring knives around for just this sort of thing. They're lousy for cutting, but great for cleaning. The small knife allows me to get in all the tight angles of the grate where a blade scraper wouldn't fit.
If you apply any of the cleaners and let them sit, or let the parts soak overnight, final scraping and cleaning should be much easier. Use the knife/scraper and the copper scrubber to remove the debris, adding additional baking soda or scrubbing powder as needed.
Note: Do not use the copper scraper on a smooth top range. Stick with the scraper blade and a mild abrasive like the homemade soft scrub. Rinse well, and buff clean. Avoid leaving any cleaning residue on the sooth top range surface, as it may cause discoloration of the stove the next time it is heated. Old t-shirts and socks make very soft and absorbent cleaning cloths.
And here we have one much cleaner stove top.
Clean Your Oven Without Harsh Chemicals
Let me first say that I am grateful to have a stove vent that vents directly outside, as there have been a few times when foods have run over in the oven and smoke has been plentiful. It happens. The best way to keep your oven from sending smoke signals is to prevent the mess in the first place.
Use Drip Pans to Catch Oven Spills
If you bake, I highly recommend a pie drip pan. I don't put a pie in the oven without a drip pan and a pie crust shield. My pie drip pan has seen hard use, so the finish is coming off, but it still works just fine.
A pie drip pan is simple a round tray with a hole in the center to allow heat flow that is placed directly under a pie (or other baking dish) to catch spills before they mess up your entire oven. It's so much easier to use than foil, and can be reused again and again. Just let it soak in the sink, give a scrub, and you're good to go. Here's a shot of mine, with a pie plate placed on top on the right so you can see how it lines up.
Stopping Spills and Cleaning Baked on Food
If you see (or smell) something running over, slide a piece of foil underneath it if possible, and pour some cheap table salt on the spill to soak it up and prevent excess smoking (or turn on the stove vent…). Wait until the oven cools, and scrape out the mess with a metal spatula. The salt treatment will make the goo lift off easier, in a lovely charcoal patty.
Alternatively, if you're lazy, you can just let the mess sit and keep using the oven, and it'll get more broken down and ashlike over time. That said, it's going to stink and smoke, so I highly recommend taking the time to clean up instead. You can use the same methods recommended for the stove top. To soak, simply place a very wet rag over the problem area and let it sit for a bit.
Most ovens now have a self-cleaning cycle to accelerate the “burn to ashes” step, but if you catch spills as they happen, you won't need it. I ran the self-clean cycle once for each of the ovens I've owned in the last 20 years.
Stove Cleaning “Tips” to Avoid
Don't line the bottom of your oven with foil!
I know a lot of people do this, but it is not recommended by manufacturers. It may damage your oven and void your warranty. It may also contribute to uneven cooking, or create a risk of electric shock or fire.
Don't spray any liquid cleaners on a hot oven, especially on the oven glass.
Cold on hot can damage the surface finish, even break the glass. Just don't do it – be patient. You can wipe while warm, or sprinkle on dry powder, just don't spray cold on hot.
Don't get too much vinegar or water on electric or gas connectors while cleaning.
It's fine to soak the grates or metal drip pans, but don't soak your electrical connections or gas igniters with water or vinegar. Both liquids can corrode connections and damage your stove. Don't spray directly on electric connections or igniters. Instead, spray on your cleaning cloth and wipe around the area.
Stove Cleaning Tips Review
- Wipe off what you can as soon as you can, before it gets cooked on, and you'll save yourself time and effort later.
- Let the cleaners and soaking loosen stuck on grime before scrubbing.
- Use the proper tools to remove caked on food.
Dealing with fingerprints and smudges on stainless steel? Most will buff off, but you can try Howard Natural Stainless Steel Cleaner for extra “oomph”. Want a citrus based degreaser without mixing it yourself? Try Biokleen Concentrated All Purpose Cleaner. Looking for an already mixed scrubbing cleanser? Better Life Kitchen and Bath Scrubber is well rated and ready to go.
If you have any tips that you use that I've missed, please leave a comment. I'm always open to learning something new.
You may also find helpful:
- Spring Cleaning – 6 Steps to a Clean and Organized Kitchen
- DIY Natural Cleaners – 7 Easy Recipes to Help You Clean Everything from Windows to Grout
- 35+ Handy Kitchen Substitutions – Printable Cheat Sheet
Originally posted in 2012, updated in 2017.
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