The stove has been called the “heart of the kitchen”, mainly because it’s where most of the family meals are prepared. Keeping your stove’s cooktop clean should be a priority.  Built-up grease and food debris can cause smoke which can damage the surrounding walls or even worse, start a fire. Let’s look at a few tips that will keep you keep the top of your stove clean and safe.

Never clean your stovetop while it’s still hot. It doesn’t matter whether you have a gas or an electric cooktop, never clean it while it’s hot. The heat will turn your cleaning product into a vapor which is dangerous if you breathe it in. Instead, wait until the stove has completely cooled before cleaning.

Remove any movable parts from the stove before cleaning. This includes grates, spill trays, and knobs. Move these pieces out of the way so you will be able to clean every nook on your stovetop. It will also let you concentrate on cleaning those pieces separately – away from the stove.

Soak the items you’ve removed in warm soapy water. Let them soak for a few minutes to loosen the grease and the oils. Wipe them with a large looped microfiber cloth. If the buildup doesn’t come right off, spray them with rubbing alcohol and let them sit for a few minutes on a paper towel. The alcohol will work to break down the grease so you won’t have to scrub too hard to remove it.

If you have a gas stove do NOT spray any cleaner directly onto the cooktop. Instead, spray the cleaner on a microfiber cloth and wipe the stovetop with the cloth. Without knowing the ingredients in your cleaner, it is not safe to spray anything around an open flame.  Remember a gas stovetop has a pilot light underneath that could be exposed to the ingredients in the cleaner.  Another item to avoid around a gas stove is alcohol.  Alcohol is a great product to use to break down grease and oil but do not use anywhere near a gas flame.

Glass stovetops have a lovely look but can be extremely difficult to clean.  The glass needs to be cleaned thoroughly after each use or the residue will become burnt on. There are a lot of specialized creams that you can use to clean the glass. The trick is to use a damp sponge with the cream and apply it in a circular motion. If you have spots that just won’t come clean, you can use a straight edge razor tipped at a 45-degree angle to scrape off the spots. Don’t be afraid of scratching the glass. Just use a new razor blade each time you clean and the residue will slide right off. Finish with a damp microfiber cloth.

Stainless steel stovetops also need to be cleaned after every use.  The stainless in between the burners will oxidize and look very spotty. Wipe the cooktop down with a degreasing cleaner, Then, use a powdered cleanser like Shadazzle to remove the oxidation and leave the stainless steel looking perfect. Wipe off the cleanser, then finish with a light coat of baby oil.  The baby oil will seal the stainless steel, prevent further oxidation and keep it looking streak free.

A hack for cleaning drip pans is to boil some hot water in a large pot big enough to submerge the drip pans. Add a cup of dishwashing detergent and stir until it’s dissolved. Place the drip pans in the boiling water, turn off the heat and cover. Let them sit in this mixture overnight. In the morning just give them a quick rinse and most of the crud should come right off.

Brown burn marks on your stovetop can gently be removed with baking soda and a soft sponge. Just sprinkle the spot with the baking soda and use the damp sponge to gently scrub the spot away. Be very careful not to be too aggressive or you could scratch the surface.

Make a DIY grease cutter to remove grease and oil from your stovetop. Just add some pure lemon juice to a bowl of baking soda until it becomes a thick paste. Then apply this mixture to your stovetop or hood. Let the paste sit for a minute or two then spray the area with HOT distilled white vinegar.  The hot vinegar will activate the baking soda to lift and remove the oils from the surface while the acid in the lemon juice will work to cut through the greasy buildup so it’s easier to remove.  Just give the stovetop a quick wipe and it will be sparkling.

For more information from DIY green cleaning expert Leslie Reichert, visit greencleaningcoach.com