Cleaning · FAQ · HOW TO · Ranges

Cleaning tips: How to clean a stove

Not sure how to regain a clean stove after all that Thanksgiving cooking? Cleaning stove tops can be a pain, but consider that dirty cooking surfaces don’t reflect heat as well, meaning that you waste energy and compromise performance when using a messy stove.

Instead, try these useful stove cleaning tips that have worked for me.

When cleaning a smooth top stove, first use a razor blade (yes, I’m serious) to gently scrape off any burnt on food residue. Sometimes smooth top stoves burners discolor with time, but I’ve found that Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works well to fade dark stains. Apply cooktop cleaner (which we sell for about $5 at all Warners’ Stellian stores) with a soft rag or paper towel for general cleaning. Cooktop cleaner also gives a nice, smooth finish to glass- and ceran-top stoves you can’t get from soap and water, sorry!

To clean a gas stove top — like I have at home — remove all grates and burner caps to the sink and simply use soap and water to clean. I scrub off all the food residue that ends up around the burners by sprinkling on some Barkeeper’s Friend and rubbing it off with a moistened towel. Again, the discolorations (I have a white stove) are removed by Magic Eraser and some elbow grease.

The most important tip I have for cleaning gas stoves, though, is properly replacing the now-clean burner caps, as misplacement could cause stove lighting issues.

Any other good tips on how to clean a stove top?

Cleaning · Refrigerator

Refrigerator cleaning tips, anyone?

Not my fridge (you really think I'd embarrass myself like that) but not too far off either. How do you clean these things?

This weekend, I broke down and cleaned the refrigerator. The condiment shelves alone took a half-hour, because of a combination of leaky bottles and cold temperatures. I used a rag and some Seventh Generation spray cleaner, but because the cold air sucks moisture from the spills, they were condensed and hardened and impossible.

There’s got to be a better way. Does anyone have good tips for a clean refrigerator to share in the comments? How often do you clean your refrigerator, or do you just religiously clean messes as they happen?

I would normally just sic ’em with some Bar Keepers Friend or Bonami, but not around my food. See other things to avoid (lifted from a major manufacturer’s site):

Do not use abrasive or harsh cleaners such as window sprays, scouring cleansers, flammable fluids, cleaning waxes, concentrated detergents, bleaches or cleansers containing petroleum products on plastic parts, interior and door liners, or gaskets. Do not use paper towels, scouring pads, or other harsh cleaning tools.

Seriously, paper towels are “harsh?” Too funny.

Cleaning · Dishwashers · FAQ · HOW TO

HOW TO: Troubleshoot (almost) any dishwasher problems

So easy, a baby could fix it! (I know, cheap excuse to indulge my "photos of babies playing in appliances" habit.)

I won’t necessarily admit that I hate my dishwasher lately, but I will project some anxieties onto blog readers via a dishwasher troubleshooting roundup (!!!).

Whether your dishwasher leaves you with cloudy dishes, wet dishes or still-dirty dishes, my top 4 blogs about dishwasher problems should contain your remedy.

Top 4 dishwasher troubleshooting blog posts

1. Dishes not drying

2. Dishes not clean

3. Dishwasher leaving white film on glasses

4. Food residue left on dishes

Unfortunately, you can’t troubleshoot small and noisy, so watch for an upcoming Things I Want, dishwasher edition.

Cleaning · cooking · FAQ · HOW TO · Ranges

Gas stove troubleshooting: Stove won’t light

Need a light?

Despite a general dislike for most of the appliances I inherited with my first house, I feel lucky to have a gas stove (or range, as in appliance jargon).

I love cooking, so I appreciate the power and responsiveness of gas.

However, unlike their electric counterpart, gas ranges can’t just be dialed on; their burners must be ignited.

I occasionally struggle with lighting my burners — and I know I’m not alone — so here’s what to check if you’re struggling.

Burner cap
A lot of ignition problems and uneven flames result from food spills and related dirtiness. Routine cleaning and general unslobbiness will avoid this.

After a spill, use a nonabrasive plastic scrubbing pad and mildly abrasive cleanser or soap  to thoroughly clean the cap.

Make sure the cap is completely dry before replacing it over the burner. Take care that alignment pins are lined up with with the cap.

(I know I usually would never say this, but) Don’t put them in the dishwasher.

Burner ports

Burner flames should be about 1″-1.5″, with a proper shape like the flame labeled “A” in the adjacent spiffy illustration. The flame should be blue, not yellow.

If these aren’t the case, your burner ports could be clogged, so you should clean it, following these steps:

  1. Make sure all the controls are off and the stove is cool. Don’t use oven cleaners, bleach or rust remover.
  2. Clean the burner cap as instructed above..
  3. Clean the gas tube opening with a damp cloth.
  4. Clean clogged burner ports with a straight pin as shown. Do not enlarge or distort the port. Do not use a wooden toothpick. If the burner needs to be adjusted, call appliance service.
  5. Replace the burner cap, as shown in the first illustration.
  6. Turn on the burner. If the burner does not light, check cap alignment. If the burner still does not light, call appliance service.

Knobs

(This one falls under the “duh” category, but you never know…) Push in the burner knob before turning to light to ensure that it’s set correctly.

Cleaning · Energy Efficiency · Refrigerator

Beware of pet hair in your kitchen

Manufacturers say that most people don’t need to regularly clean their refrigerators’ condenser coils.

But, you should clean the condenser coils on refrigerators in greasy, dusty environments — and homes with “significant pet traffic” (which just sounds like a kitten parade, right?) — every two or three months.

What’s that? Cleaning stuff is a pain in the butt? Yeah, well so is replacing stuff. Regular maintenance not only ensures your refrigerator runs efficiently (aka for less money) but it will help it run for longer.

I’m betting it’s been about the suggested time span (times 10?) since you have cleared out what lies beneath, so here’s a refresher course:

1. Unplug refrigerator or disconnect power. (We don’t need any heroes, people.)

2. Take off the kick plate, or “grille.” How you do this depends on the configuration of your fridge (e.g. top freezer, side by side), but the “wiggle and pull” method seems pretty universal. For more help, consult your Use & Care manual or (do what I do and) ask a family member for help.

3. Clean the kick plate, the open area behind it and the front surface area using either a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment or, my sister’s favorite, a baby bottle brush duct-taped to a stretched-out coat hanger.

Cleaning · FAQ · HOW TO · Microwave · Uncategorized

HOW TO: remove burnt popcorn smell from your microwave

Burnt popcorn smell lingers in microwaves so badly, an office I worked in banned it from the break room. It’s notorious, but completely removable.

If your microwave harbors its own dirty Pop Secrets, try this cleaning tip we got from Frigidaire (hat tip to Sarah from our Customer Service Department):

Microwave Odor Removal

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup water
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • grated lemon peel
  • several whole cloves

Combine together in a 2-cup glass measuring cup and boil for several minutes in the microwave on full power. Allow hot mixture to sit in the microwave until cool. Wipe interior with a soft cloth.

Though this tip wasn’t specifically written for burnt popcorn, I can’t think of much else that smells up a microwave. Help me out in the comments below!

Cleaning · FAQ · Uncategorized

Should you put aluminum foil in the oven?

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Don't shoot yourself in the foot trying to keep a clean oven.

Warners’ Stellian‘s expert service guy, Gene, passed on a cautionary tale to me yesterday after he ordered a new, $90 oven floor for a customer.

A well-meaning woman lined the bottom of her oven with aluminum foil, to catch all the food that bakes into the oven.

Instead of having to scrape it all off, she could just pull out the aluminum foil and voila, no more mess.

Except she ended up with a bigger mess when the aluminum foil melted onto the oven.

For years, people had lined their ovens with tin foil to speed clean up. But these days, we don’t use tin foil. We use aluminum foil. And aluminum has a much lower heat tolerance, apparently.

And aluminum foil-maker Reynolds warns against it.

From the Reynolds FAQ webpage:

To avoid possible heat damage to your oven, we do not recommend using aluminum foil to line the bottom of your oven. Rather, we recommend that you place a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil on the oven rack beneath the pie or casserole you are baking. The foil should be only a few inches larger than the baking pan to allow for proper heat circulation. The foil will catch any drips before they reach the oven bottom.

There you go. Smart play on Reynolds part, right? Because you know people will end up getting rid of the sheet of foil and using a new one next time…