No matter how careful you are when you cook, eventually your cooktop will become dirty. It could be a drip from a spoon, it could be a boiled over the pot, but most likely, it will just happen from the ambient particles that come from the cooking process. However, cleaning your cooktop isn’t hard. There are a lot of substances and scrub brushes that can remove even the toughest cooked-on stains. The actual hard part of cleaning your electric stove? Doing it in a way that doesn’t damage the enamel surface.
Over time, your vigorous scrubbing with items like steel wool will do quite a number on the surface of your stove. Highly abrasive material will quickly scratch the protective enamel off the cooktop. This leaves it covered in dark scratches. Unfortunately, while the aesthetic may not be important to you, by removing the protective enamel, it also leaves your stove vulnerable to rust. If you want to prevent any more scratches or want to clean a new electric cooktop safely for its whole lifespan, this is what you need to do.
Cleaning an Electric Cooktop Without Scratching It
When working with an enamel cooktop, you will want to invest in a rubber scraper. When you have cooked on cheese or other food items, often trying to remove them with a sponge will result in polishing the rough edges, making them even more difficult to remove. The rubber scraper will see them easily removed. Since it is rubber, it runs virtually no risk of scraping off the enamel. Do not try to use items like a razor blade, this can take the enamel off quickly.
While the rubber scraper can solve a lot of problems, there is one problem that it won’t solve – burn stains. This can’t really be scraped off and sometimes cannot be scrubbed away. For these and other tough stains, you will want to break out your secret weapon when it comes to cleaning anything in the kitchen – baking soda.
Baking soda is an abrasive agent, but not in the same way as something like steel wool is. It is strong enough to remove tough stains, but it is gentle enough to not scratch away the enamel. For very tough stains, spray them down with a solution of vinegar and water, then sprinkle on the baking soda liberally. You want to essentially form a paste that you can use to scrub with a sponge. Once the stains have been removed, the baking soda can be wiped away with a wet sponge.
Baking soda doesn’t need to be a last resort either. It can save you a whole bunch of time and elbow grease when cleaning an electric cooktop. The only consideration is not to get it lodged in the terminals of the electric coils if you remove them while cleaning (as you should). Be careful not to push any baking soda inside these terminals, but otherwise go to town on those cooktop stains.
Can You Remove Scratches From Enamel Cooktops?
If your cooktop already has scratches, can you do anything about them? You may know that in the case of glass cooktops, small scratches may be buffed away. This is not the case with enamel. Attempting to buff will smooth down the edges, but will likely make the issue worse.
You can repair these scratches, however. You will need to sand down the area, then apply a high-temperature porcelain repair liquid. Use the kind that is rated for stove repair and be sure to color match when purchasing. One coat will be enough to repair the area. It is a rather quick fix, but it is better to just not have to do it at all.
Do You Have to Clean the Electric Coils?
In general, cleaning the coils on your electric cooktop is something you do not need to worry about. The coils are often considered self-cleaning because they get very hot during the process of heating your pots and pans. Any food that does spill on it will quickly be burned away.
The coils may end up in an awkward phase where food is still on there because they were shut off before it fully burned away. If you do not want to leave it on the coils until the next use, the food can be gently scrubbed away. You may want to remove the electric coil from the terminals so you do not bend them while scrubbing.
If you had a very serious incident that left a lot of food cooked on your coils, you can soak them in warm soapy water to help remove it. However, you will want to make sure the coils, or more accurately, the terminals are fully dried before plugging them back into your cooktop.
How to Clean the Knobs on Your Electric Cooktop
You might clean your cooktop off after every use, but the knobs? Not so much. Your control knobs won’t get as dirty as fast, but they will still get dirty from ambient exposure as well as direct exposure to fingers. The best way to clean the knobs is to scrub them as little as possible. What you need to worry about is the markings coming off over multiple cleanings in its lifetime. In a gas range, you could just estimate the temperature from the flame size, but with an electric cooktop, telling the temperature is impossible without those markings.
Instead of scrubbing, you will want to remove the knobs and soak them in vinegar and water. Do not use dish soap as it can leave unwanted residue in the area where the knob attaches to the stove. You will want to gently wipe the knobs with a sponge, dry them, and then reattach them. This time is also a good one to clean the area behind where the knobs sit as well.
If you are uncomfortable taking the knobs off or have a rare model in which the control knobs do not come off, you can simply spray them with vinegar and wipe them down with a sponge. Never use anything more abrasive as the markings come off easily in many models.