It only takes one forgotten pot of pasta to make a huge mess of your electric stove top.
When the burners are smoking from spilled oil or your drip pans are blackened from burned on food, you can clean those components and get your stove back in good working order!
Let’s look at how to clean an electric stove including the burners, coils, and oven without nasty chemicals.
Supplies That You’ll Need
Cleaning up your stove isn’t terribly difficult, but there are some simple tools that will make it easier.
- Degreasing dish soap (Something like Simple Green)
- Plastic scrubbing pad and scraper
- Baking soda (how long does baking soda last?)
- White vinegar in a spray bottle
Electric Stove Parts To Clean
There is a difference between a gas vs electric stove. When cleaning up your stove, knowing the electric stove parts names is a good idea.
On the cooktop:
- Coil: The round part that gets red hot when you turn on the control button for that quadrant of the stove. Most electric stoves have four coils, and they’re generally of different sizes. These are sometimes referred to as “eyes,” so if you find information on how to clean stove eyes, that same data will work on your coils.
- Drip Pan: Your drip pan is the stainless steel metal bowl that sits under the coil. If you’re lucky, it will catch spills.
Inside the oven:
- Bake Element: This is the heating source for the oven. It has prongs at the back where it plugs into the oven wall. Generally, these don’t get dirty unless you have something spill and spatter inside the oven.
- Racks: Oven racks hold baking pans and can be pulled out like a drawer when it’s time to remove casseroles and cake pans from the oven. If you have a spill, these will need to be cleaned up outside the oven.
Safety First! Unplug The Stove
Electric stoves should be unplugged before you start using water on the cooktop or before you start removing burner coils.
Yes, this will mean resetting the clock. It will also mean not electrocuting yourself, and it’s easier to figure out how to reset the clock than to withstand a severe electrical shock.
How To Remove Electric Stove Burners
- Once your stove is unplugged, let the burners cool completely.
- Then you should be able to see where the prongs for the burner pass through the drip pan into their receptacles.
- You can now remove the cooled coils by tugging the burner connections out straight across from that drip pan opening.
If it doesn’t come, don’t force it. The connection may be more involved, so review your manual.
Some cooks will attempt to clean their burners by cranking them up on high and burning off the food residue. This is a smoky, smelly and possibly dangerous option. Worse, it won’t work long term.
How To Clean Electric Stove Coils
Your coils will likely need a degreasing soap.
If you find that this doesn’t remove dark burnt stains, consider making a paste of baking soda and water.
- Coat the burned coil in this paste and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then scrub the burner clean.
- Rinse the coils completely, so they’re not slippery or gritty.
- Then let them dry and plug them in.
Cleaning Your Drip Pans
While you’ve got the burners out, you can pull the drip pans and scrub them clean. Study these pans carefully before you start cleaning them. They may have food burned on them, but they can also corrode over time. If they’re crusty or have developed any rust at all, they should be replaced.
You can find replacement drip pans for most electric stoves at your local home improvement store. This is a remarkable facelift for your stove and can really brighten up your workspace.
If the drip pans aren’t too bad and you just want to degrease them and put them back to work, again, a degreasing soap is critical. This will at least clean off the top layer of goo.
For getting rid of dark, burned on grease, try the baking soda and vinegar trick.
- Make a paste of baking soda and water and coat the drip pans in a solid layer of paste.
- Let it sit for 7 to 10 minutes, then use a spray bottle to spritz the pans with pure vinegar. The pans will foam vigorously, and this foam will carry away (or at least break through the surface) of burned grease.
- Now you can use a scrubbing pad to apply more baking soda paste. The soda will act as an abrasive.
Use a ratio of vinegar to water, 1 to 1. If you dread working with vinegar because of the odor, the addition of essential oils might help!
Cleaning the Stove Top
If the heating elements on your stove are round metal coils, then the center of your cooktop is likely a baked on ceramic finish. While this finish is incredibly tough and a great heat conductor, it can be scratched.
No matter how clean you get this surface, if you scratch it, it will always be at least a little dingy.
When working out how to clean burnt electric stove top, take care not to use steel wool or a metal scraper. Instead, clear away the drip pans and coils and wipe down the enamel surface to see what remains.
Consider adding a degreasing cleaner, such as Simple Green, to break down any clinging grease and make the surface of any grease stains uneven.
If you need a bit of grit, baking soda paste and a nylon scrubber can help a lot. The grit of baking soda will crumble against the hard enamel surface, so it’s hard to do any permanent damage to the center panel or along the burner cover edges.
Be aware that baking soda paste can leave grit behind no matter how often you wipe down the surface.
Consider the following to reach a smooth, clean cooktop surface:
- Create a double or triple layer of paper towels and saturate it.
- Use this stack of wet paper to wipe down the stove.
- Discard the towels and repeat.
Three rounds of de-gritting should get you back to a fairly smooth surface. For the final touch, let the surface dry completely and rub it roughly with a scratchy towel. This will knock the remaining grit off the cooktop.
Whatever you do, be thorough before you step up to a more abrasive cleanser or a heartier scrubbing pad. Remember, the best cleaner for electric stove tops is the one that leaves that enamel top unscratched.
If you have stainless cooktop, consider our best stainless steel cleaner guide to help you choose a product.
Once the cooktop, the coils (or eyes) and the drip pans are clean and have dried completely, you can reassemble your cooktop. Run the burner prongs through the pans before plugging them in, and you’ll be ready to cook in no time because you can finally plug in your stove!
Prevention! Keep an eye on any cooking pot, and take care not to leave anything covered if it’s set to a high temperature. If you’re baking and cooking at the same time, your cooktop will be hot. If you spill, wipe it up immediately.
A stovetop spill isn’t the end of the world, but it can leave a nasty mess if it’s not addressed soon.
If you inherit a dirty cooktop from the previous tenant or owner, know that you can clean up your cooktop fairly quickly.
Spills happen, but long-term messes don’t have to hang around!