There are a number of types of cooker hobs: gas, ceramic, enamel and combination. Different surfaces require different cleaning and care techniques, explains Mark Woollard from Which Local-recommended The Ovens and Hobs Cleaning Company.
How to clean different types of hobs
Cleaning an enamel hob
'Enamel hobs are easy to clean because you can be forceful with them,' says Mark.
Invest in a hob scraper – a small tool with a retractable blade which you'll find in a supermarket or department store for about £5.
'You can clean reasonably aggressively, but never present the hob scraper to a curved surface as you may damage the enamel.'
Cleaning a ceramic hob
Make it sparkle
A good quality microfibre glass cloth or a cotton tea towel can be used to polish a ceramic hob once you have finished cleaning for the ultimate smear-free shine.
Ceramic hobs are vulnerable to scratches so you shouldn't use abrasive cleaning products.
'Use a hob scraper specifically for ceramic hobs to carefully tackle any black residue around the rings and then clean with a microfibre cloth and a mild bicarbonate of soda paste,' advises Mark.
Cleaning gas burners
'There are different types,' says Mark, 'but the majority of gas burners have an aluminium base.'
Clean the base by soaking it in a washing-up bowl with soapy water. Leave for a while and then scrub off the worst with a scouring pad. 'If you’re struggling to remove all of the grime, try some wire wool. Wipe it dry before replacing.'
The burner lids are usually enamel. If you’re using a 'dip' or large 'soaking tray' to clean other parts of your cooker, you can add these to the solution.
Alternatively, your trusty hob scraping tool can also be used. Sometimes there's an additional piece – a 'coat' around the edge of the burner. This is usually enamel too and can be treated in the same way.
'If there is a problem with the flow of gas from a jet, you could try using a sewing needle in the hole to free up loose debris but call an engineer if this doesn't solve the problem. If you think there is some loose material inside a burner, use a vacuum cleaner to remove it.'
Tips on oven cleaning tools
How to clean your hob will depend on the materials it is made from. Arm yourself with some tools and consult the manufacturer's manual for detailed cleaning information.
- A hob scraper is a small tool with a blade which you can use to remove burnt-on gunk from lots of surfaces (excluding stainless steel). If you can’t find one in a supermarket or department store, have a look online.
- A microfibre cloth is made in such a way that it picks up nasties at a bacterial level. Though they might seem more expensive than standard woven cloths or wipes, they're good value for money as they can be washed around 300 times.
- Bicarbonate of soda paste can be bought on the high street or made at home - just add a little water to a tablespoon of soda. Enamel surfaces can cope with a thick, paste-like consistency but for other surfaces your solution should be diluted to a liquid.
- A ‘dip’ or 'oven soaking tray' can be a little difficult to come by in the supermarket, but they are widely available online. The size of these trays accommodates hob racks and oven shelves which can be soaked to make removing muck easier.
- Wire wool sometimes comes in handy for stubborn, burnt-on gunk. Use with caution, though, as it will scratch some surfaces.
- A microfibre glass or polishing cloth will restore the lustre of most surfaces after cleaning, although a simple cotton tea towel can also do a good job.
- Green scouring pads (the everyday ones from the supermarket) are useful for cleaning away grime once an item has been soaked. Set one aside specifically for cleaning the oven.
- Groundnut oil, applied sparingly, will nourish cast iron hob racks. Use occasionally after cleaning.
Cleaning a stainless steel hob
Stainless steel requires a softly-softly approach. Never leave a spillage on the hob or allow a greasy build-up, as acidic deposits can etch a permanent blemish into the surface of the stainless steel. A professional oven cleaner will be unable to help.
Stainless steel also has a grain. Clean using a microfibre cloth and a weak bicarbonate of soda solution, working with the grain. Don’t use a circular motion as this may leave noticeable rings behind.
Cleaning hobs with cast iron racks
Iron racks are awkward to clean because they’re heavy and won’t fit in a sink. 'That’s where a soaking or dipping tray comes in handy,' explains Mark. 'You can use soda crystals on them and scrub clean with wire wool.'
'Sometimes people put these in a dishwasher,' says Mark, 'but I wouldn’t recommend it if it can be avoided. Dishwasher salt can cause them to rust. If you want to do that, you should wash them with thoroughly with water afterwards.'
However you decide to clean them, you should also oil the racks occasionally. Apply a little groundnut oil with a cloth. 'The cast iron absorbs the oil which nourishes it and forms a protective shield because the burning temperature is very high. It will restore shine too.'
About our expert trader
Our expert: Mark Woollard
Mark Woollard is a professional oven cleaner and proprietor of The Ovens & Hobs Cleaning Company.
The business is accredited by The Association of Approved Oven Cleanerswhich requires its members to complete a training programme.
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