I've used a lot of elbow grease trying to get the inside of my oven clean, but cleaning daily splatters and spills on the stovetop? Super easy. (Yes, really!) And I get slick, shiny results without special stainless steel sprays. In fact, I have a bottle of Stainless Steel Magic spray that I never use; I find rubbing with a clean kitchen towel to be a far superior (and simpler) method. This is my basic routine:
Wipe down the oven handle, replace the knobs and grates, and you're done! All clean and shiny.
How To Clean a Greasy Stovetop With Just Soap and Water
What You Need
Sponge or cleaning cloth
1. If you can remove the grates and knobs, do.
2. Soak the knobs in soapy water while you wipe down the stovetop.
3. Squirt a very small drop of dishwashing liquid onto a sponge or cloth. Wet, then squeeze out most of the water. You need some soap to cut the grease, but you don't want swimming pools of water dripping into crevices.
4. Wipe and scrub away the grease splatters and spilled sauces, rewetting and re-soaping your sponge if necessary. Don't worry about soapy residue. This step is for loosening all the dirt.
5. Rinse your sponge so that the water runs clear (no cloudy, greasy water, which can stick around).
6. With long strokes, wipe away the soap. Rinse the sponge as often as necessary, so you're left with a clean surface.
7. Use a clean, dry kitchen towel to buff away the water streaks. If you have stainless steel, wipe in the direction of the grain.
8. Buff, buff, buff the shiny surfaces until they are streak-free, getting all water out of the corners.
9. Use a soapy scrub brush to clean the grates in the sink. (We don't do this every time we cook, maybe once every couple of weeks.) Rinse and let dry completely.
10. Scrub the grease off of the knobs that have been soaking. Rinse and let dry completely.
11. Wipe down the oven handle; grease lands there, too!
12. Replace the knobs and grates on the stovetop when dry, and you're done!
You can also remove the gas burner covers, but we find that they're hard to clean (the intense heat must really solidify those stains) and not worth the trouble. Plus, we fear getting water where it doesn't belong near those clicking gas starters.
This is our method, but we realize it isn't perfect for every type of stove. What are your best tips? Any electric stove users have some advice?
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Updated from post published February 2011.
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(Image credits: Lucy Hewett)