underscored oven cleaning

Cleaning ovens, stovetops and vent hoods are dirty jobs, but regularly cleaning and maintaining a range is critical to keeping your home safe and your food tasting great.

Gina Perry, a senior merchant for cleaning at The Home Depot, and Katie Sadler, a brand manager at Whirlpool Kitchen, explained the best way to clean ovens, stovetops, vent hoods and filters to keep them looking their best and operating at peak performance.

How to clean inside of the oven

There are three methods to choose from when it comes time to cleaning your oven: commercial oven cleaner, DIY cleaning solutions or, if your model offers it, a self-cleaning function. Each method has pros and cons; broadly speaking, commercial oven cleaners that make quick work of a dirty job are formulated with harsh chemicals that are irritants to the skin and respiratory system, whereas DIY solutions made of gentler ingredients simply don’t work that well, and self-cleaning functions are a good way to ruin your oven, requiring costly repairs or outright replacements.

Ahead, we’ve detailed methods for cleaning an oven with commercial oven cleaner and with a DIY solution. Always consult the appliance’s manual before using oven cleaner or other cleaning agents inside your oven.

Coat the interior of the oven, the racks and the door with oven cleaner and follow the manufacturer’s exposure time directions. After allowing the oven cleaner to penetrate baked-on grime, remove the grates from the oven and wipe them clean with a damp cloth or sponge (a scrub sponge may be needed to dislodge stubborn buildup); rinse clean with water, dry and set aside. Then, using a sponge or rag, wipe the interior of the oven and the door clean, rinsing the sponge frequently.

If you prefer to avoid the use of commercial oven cleaner, you’ll need to clean the racks separately. Remove them from the oven and soak them for at least 30 minutes in a solution of hot water and dish soap to loosen stuck-on food and cooking oils. After soaking, scrub with a scouring pad or heavy-duty sponge, rinse well, dry and set aside.

With the racks removed from the oven, mix 1/2 cup baking soda with enough water to make a spreadable paste. Apply the paste to the interior of the oven, including the door. After 12 hours, wipe the baking soda paste using a damp cloth or sponge; a scrub brush will also be helpful for removing baked-on grime.

How often should you clean your oven?

Every household uses its oven differently, and cleaning frequency depends on how often it’s used. “If you or your family enjoy cooking a lot, give your oven a deep clean every three months or so,” Perry says. “If you rarely cook a big meal outside of a major holiday, then deep cleaning your oven twice a year is more than adequate.”

How to clean a gas stovetop and burners

Perry detailed the step-by-step instructions for cleaning a gas stovetop and burners; before you begin make sure the stove and burners are cold.

Remove the grates and drip pans from the stovetop and soak them in hot, soapy water for 15 to 20 minutes to break down buildup from cooking. After soaking, scrub off any remaining buildup with a non-scratch mesh sponge.

Use a sponge and warm, soapy water or a stovetop cleaning paste made from baking soda and warm water to clean the stovetop. The paste can also be used to clean the grates and reflector pans.

Use a plastic scraper tool, spatula or knife to scrape away dried or baked-on foods on the stovetop. Don’t scrape with anything made of metal, which can leave scratches.

Use a damp cloth to wipe off the scrapings. Dry the stovetop, drip pans and grates and reassemble.

How to clean an electric stovetop

Before cleaning an electric stovetop, make sure it is turned off and cool to the touch, then follow these steps.

Wipe the stovetop, including the coils, with a cloth or sponge and warm, soapy water. Rinse the sponge and wipe away the soap with clean water.

Turn the burners on high to burn off debris and residue (they will smoke, and that’s normal; open a window and/or turn on the vent fan to keep smoke alarms from going off). When the smoking stops, turn off the burners and allow them to cool. Remove them and wipe away remaining debris with a dry cloth.

Remove the drip pans and soak them in hot, soapy water; drip pans with significant buildup should be placed in a large sealable plastic bag with a tablespoon of ammonia. Leave them overnight and rinse clean with water.

Clean the stovetop with a glass cooktop cleaner or with baking soda paste (1/2 cup baking soda to 3 to 4 tablespoons water) using a non-scratch sponge or soft-bristled scrub brush.

How often should you clean your stovetop?

Frequency of use will dictate how often to clean your stovetop; wiping it with a damp cloth or sponge after every use will go a long way to keep the buildup of cooking oils and food splatters and spills from forming on the stovetop.

“In addition to daily cleanings,” Sadler says, “using a cooktop cleaner on a regular biweekly or monthly schedule can help take care of hard-to-remove soils and protect your cooktop from damage.”

How to clean the vent hood and filter

Over time, the vent hood and filter will develop a sticky film caused by cooking particles that attracts dirt and dust.

Start by removing the filter from the vent hood; submerge it fully in hot, soapy water and allow it to soak while you clean the hood. After soaking, use a soft scrub brush to dislodge buildup, rinse well and dry before putting it back in place. And, tempting though it may be, Perry says, “Don’t run range hood filters through your dishwasher. The grease may clog your dishwasher’s drain.”

Sticky, grimy vent hoods need to be cleaned with a degreasing product that can penetrate and break down baked-on cooking particles. A grease-cutting dish soap can be used, but when something stronger is needed, reach for a commercial degreaser like this one.

To clean a non-stainless steel vent hood, Sadler recommends using a nonabrasive cooktop cleaner. Apply a dime-sized amount directly to the vent hood, let it dry to a white haze, then buff with a soft, dry cloth until the white film is no longer visible.

For cleaning stainless steel vent hoods, Sadler recommends Affresh Stainless Steel Brightener. Rub the polish in the direction of the grain and buff clean. “If you don’t have any on hand,” Sadler says, “you can dip a nonabrasive sponge into liquid dish soap diluted in water and scrub the stainless.” Avoid abrasive cleansers and scrubbers that can scratch and dull the stainless.