How to Clean a Stove

Gloved hands cleaning a stove top with a green microfiber cloth.

For the sake of brevity, we’ve decided to narrow the types of stove tops and ranges in this article to three types: the unsealed gas stovetop, the unsealed electric stove stop, and the sealed glass electric stovetop. These types of ranges are the ones I’ve had the most experience with and luckily for you and I, all three of these can be cleaned with little more than a box of baking soda (hardly any, really) and some vinegar. Baking soda is naturally quite abrasive (but will never scratch glass) and also super absorbent; as such, it makes a great kitchen cleaner. Your household vinegar is roughly 5% acetic acid, which not only makes it the perfect thing for cleaning up alkaline (base) powders, but it also kills most germs, like bacteria such as Salmonella as well as any other soap, especially if it is left on a surface for 5 or more minutes.

Below are the steps to cleaning a stove with baking soda, as well as some supplementary information. At the bottom of the page, you will find a couple of organic (Vegan Society approved) kitchen and surface cleaners I think you might find useful if you wanted to try something other than the basics.

Steps to Cleaning a Stove

  1. removing dirty elementsWhether you have a gas stove or an electric stove, you’ll want to remove the elements if you can before cleaning the stove. On our gas stove, removing the elements is simply a matter of picking them up off the stove and stacking them on the counter next to it. Some electric stoves require that you pull the elements in a certain direction before you can lift them out and off of the stove. This usually unplugs the element which breaks the circuit and allows you to clean the stove more quickly and more safely.
  2. Brushing off crumbsBefore you start cleaning the stove with any liquids or solvents it would be a good idea to brush away any removable debris. Pieces of rice, chunks of dried up meat, anything crunchy: these should all be removed to help you clean the stove more efficiently. Debris can get in the way and reduce the abrasiveness of the baking soda when you’re trying to remove tough spots and stains. Simply brush the debris aside and start preparing a baking soda paste 1:1 with water, using as much baking soda as you think you’ll need for the whole stove. I use ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of water, usually.
  3. bowl of baking soda pasteLift a bit of the baking soda paste out of the bowl with a cotton cloth and apply it to the stains that look like they’ll be a pain in the ass. Apply a firm thumb and finger to the cloth and start scrubbing in a circular motion. Baking soda works because it’s a natural abrasive, and a good one too, but it does require a bit of effort to get really tough stains off of stove’s surface. Some stains, as most of us with gas stoves know, are simply impossible to remove with just baking soda, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
  4. scrubbing the stove topOnce you’ve hit all of the tough stains with the baking soda, you can apply the rest of your paste to the stove top quite liberally. After I’ve touched up the tough stovetop stains, I smear the baking soda paste all over and start scrubbing the entire stove surface down. This picks up little stains, smears, and debris up quite quickly, and you’ll notice that the baking soda starts to get saturated with leftover oils and foods, which then clumps and can be easily removed with a brush. If you don’t want to use a brush, you’ll dig this next step.
  5. Spraying vinegar on the stopve topNow it’s almost certain that you have a stove covered with chunks of baking soda and grime, so it’s time to use the vinegar. This is the fun part. Spray a decent amount of vinegar on your stove. The vinegar will not only kill germs on contact, but the acids in the vinegar will then be neutralized by the baking soda, reducing all of it back into a liquid that can be soaked up quite easily with the same cotton rag you used to apply it with. Simply rinse out your rag, wring it, and then wipe up what’s left of the fizzling baking soda and vinegar.
  6. Cleaning the stove ringsVoila, you’re done cleaning a stove with all-natural ingredients; you may put the stove rings back on now.Baking soda is a great natural abrasive, and vinegar kills just as many germs as any other cleaning product on your grocer’s shelves. So, you’ve scoured and disinfected your stovetop without the use of harsh or toxic chemicals that may have ended up in your food, eventually. Of course, for those really tough stains, I would recommend an organic, plant-based surface cleaner from a company like Ecover or Seventh Generation.

Cleaning Stove Rings with Baking Soda

You can use baking soda as a natural stove ring cleaner as well. Most recipes call for a large pot of boiling water and a cup of baking soda. What you do is put the rings in a large pot. Fill the pot with water until the rings are completely submerged, then toss in about a cup of baking soda. Put the pot of water on the burner and bring the water to a boil. You may have to do this twice, considering you’ll need at least one of the rings to put the pot on.

Let the rings sit in the boiling water for a while. The baking soda will work it’s magic, dislodging a lot of the soot and grease that has been building up on your stove rings. The water will change color, and you’ll notice chunks floating around. Once you’re satisfied with the baking soda’s job, remove the pot from heat and let the water cool. You can follow this up by scrubbing the stove rings down with a little organic soap and a green scrub pad.

Natural Stove Cleaning Products

Box of Bio-Nice kitchen cleanerBio-Nice Kitchen Cleaner was the first thing that came up when I searched for “organic stove cleaner.” I can’t attest to this product’s effectiveness, seeing as how I’ve just found it, but since they have a complete line of products (check the links section), I imagine it should be an okay product. It’s important to keep in mind the lackluster marketing campaigns organic cleaning companies usually run.

Spray bottle of seventh generationSeventh Generation’s Natural Citrus Cleaner and Degreaser is perhaps one of the best organic degreaser’s on the market today. Degreasers really are the kind of cleaning agent you’ll need to get rid of the really tough stains on your stove top, like the ones that build up in the drip pans on a gas stove. The heat is so intense, that drippings of oil and grease can get very difficult to remove after a while. A combination of scrubbing with baking soda and soaking with degreaser may be necessary to get these out. If you can’t find the degreaser, try the Seventh Generation Multi-Surface Cleaner (sold at Amazon) in conjunction with the baking soda.