Dear Home-Ec 101:
I have a glass smooth-top stove. Recently I managed to burn it pretty badly – I think there were some food particles either on the burner or the bottom of my pot because when I put the pot on the burner, it sizzled and then a very bad burning smell filled the air. I immediately removed the pot from the burner, but there were scorch marks on the pot and ‘melted stuff’ on the burner. I was able to scrub the pot bottom clean, but I am not sure what to do about the burner, and it’s my ‘favorite’. I tried cleaning it with soap and a sponge, but that did not help. I’m afraid to scrub it because these kinds of stoves scratch really easily. I googled it, and there are so many recommendations I’m at a loss for where to start. Suggestions?
I also have a second smaller burner that started smoking the other day when I removed the pan. There was a dark line of something across it, but in addition to smoking, it was also releasing a chemical smell, plastic, maybe? I did get the mark cleaned up with soap & water, but when I turned the burner on last night, it still has that funny smell.
Stumped in Stovington
You’re right to be careful. One of the drawbacks to smooth top ranges is their propensity for becoming scratched. There are several cleaners made specifically for the job, and you should always defer to your manufacturer’s instructions to avoid using a cleaner that voids the warranty.
For what it’s worth, GE only recommends Cerama Bryte, which I have used in the past, and it is a good product.
Never clean your cooktop while it’s still hot.
There are two reasons for this. First, you could burn yourself. Secondly, if you use a room temperature or colder product on the hot surface you may crack the cooktop.
My favorite cleaning product for stubborn, burnt-on food is Bar Keepers Friend®. BKF is safe for smooth top ranges and glass. Dampen the stove, sprinkle it on and give the oxalic acid a little bit of time to work. Then wipe with a damp cloth. If the burnt on stain is particularly thick, you may need to repeat the application several times.
Quick tip: Buy BKF at your local big box store and skip it in the fancy cooking outlets. I’ve seen it sold for 4 – 5x as much in those places.
You may need to use a Razor Scraper for especially difficult, burned-on stains. Yes, just like you would use to remove excess paint from a window pane. Hold the razor blade to the cooking surface at a 45° angle and carefully scrape away the residue. Then clean and polish as usual.
Regularly polishing your stove top helps make everyday stain removal a little easier. The protective coating fills in the tiny nicks and scratches that we can’t see, keeping particles out. Additionally, regularly wiping the burners can prevent oils from polymerizing on the hot surface. Polymerized oil is a nightmare to remove.
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