Cooking at home is a great way to save money and enjoy food exactly the way you like it. But every meal cooked comes with the one inevitable cost: Cleanup. Most households work out a system to handle dishes in rhythm with home meals. However, the stove needs equally regular attention. Cooking done with oils, butter, or fatty meats will send a nearly invisible spray of oil into the air. This aerated oil quickly cools and settles all over the surface of the stove (and anything nearby). One or two meals of light grease are easy to clean up, but you hardly notice the patina. Months of grease, unfortunately, is not so easy to ignore or to clean up. If you’re looking at a lake of stove grease, or are looking to avoid that from happening again, we’re here to help.
Know How and Where Grease Gets on the Stove
Want to keep grease from building up on your stove? Know where it comes from. Think about the cloud of nearly invisible steam and grease particles that arise from every pan. Consider the splatter of bacon and the sizzle of chicken in oil. If you follow a logical path, you’ll find all the areas where grease has been landing.
Cook on one favorite burner, or have one burner just for meats? The radius of grease will focus on that burner. Only fry foods on Fridays? Then you may only need to clean the stove after that meal. Know where and when your stove-grease is coming from and you can optimize your clean opposition.
Keep Surface Cleaner Handy
There are tons of tips on how to clean up grease. But these usually relate to spills in the kitchen or garage. For the stove, a simple surface cleaner will do the job, most of the time. Glass-cleaner and all-surface cleaner usually include ammonia or a similar chemical that helps to break down grease so you can wipe it away. For a quick cleanup, a spray-bottle of surface cleaner can help keep grease from building up for more than a meal or two at a time.
The thing about surface cleaner is that it’s nearly instant to use. It’s fast and only takes a swipe with a towel or sponge to clean away the last meal of grease spray on your stove surface. Almost zero effort or time.
Hot Soapy Water and Mopping Up
However, the tradition of hot soapy water is backed by science. Hot water melts the grease and soap breaks it down. Using a soapy sponge saturated in hot water will definitely get the grease off your stove. If soap is your cleaning standard, simply soak your stovetop in hot, soapy water and mop up the greasy suds that result.
When using the soapy water method, mopping up is essential. Use a stainable towel for the best results and keep water out of the drip trays.
Run Drip Trays Through Dishwasher
Speaking of the drip trays, these are the silver (often burn-encrusted) cups underneath electric burners. If your stove has drip trays (instead of a glass top), try running them through the dishwasher. It may not get all the burnt areas, but they won’t be greasy. Dropping your drip trays into the dishwasher is a very convenient way to deal with an otherwise delicate task.
Wipe Down Before You Cook
The number-one way to prevent grease build-up on your stove is to prevent it from building up. If you clean up the stove every time you cook, for example, then there’s no chance for the grease to form a layer-on-layer.
For many, the best time to clean your stove is right before cooking. This is when you prep your space and your ingredients to begin a recipe, and cleaning the stove can be a quick few swipes to create a clear, safe cooking surface. While you’re doing this, take a few extra swipes at the non-stovetop surfaces that also collect oil like the back control panel and nearby counters or cabinets.
Use Lids More Often
Cooking with an open pan is necessary for some recipes, but not for others. Look into how many recipes could tolerate or even be improved with the use of a lid. Covering food while it cooks prevents aerated grease from escaping and spreading all over your stovetop. The lid will contain steam and aerated grease. This tends to keep a dish moist, help to cook it on the top and bottom, and prevents grease from forming a new layer around the burner.
Clean the Stove When Doing Dishes
Another good time to clean the stove as part of your routine is when your hands are already covered in soapy water. Whether you have a dishwasher or do the dishes by hand, this is normally a daily routine that focuses on cleaning the kitchen. While gathering and cleaning dishes, take a few moments to wipe down the stove with the hot, soapy sponge. Even a cursory cleaning every time you do your dishes can help keep the stove much cleaner.
Deep-Clean Months of Stove Grease
Lastly, let’s talk about those months of grease. We’ve all been there, by ignoring our own stoves or witnessing the mess of someone else’s stove. Fortunately, this problem is not so difficult to solve.
Get your trashcan nearby. If the grease is deep and congealed, scrape up the entire top layer with a spatula or a plastic putty knife before you begin washing. Then melt the remainder with soap or surface cleaner, Wipe up and throw away the grease as it dissolves. Then use soap, water, and borax (or Barkeeper’s Friend) on the stove surface. Borax will not scratch glass and is an excellent natural scrubbing agent.
Finally, polish the top with surface cleaner and a folded paper towel or shammy. This will get up the last of the soap suds and borax grit, leaving a clean surface.
—Once your stove is completely clean of grease, the best way to avoid another deep-clean is to keep up with daily wipe-downs. Clean every area that can be hit with aerated grease early and the clean-up will take no time or effort at all.