The cast iron stove grates and burner caps on a stove top see a lot of action and can quickly become caked with saucy spills and splatters of grease and oil. They can be heavy and awkward to handle, which can make cleaning them a challenge.
You can deep clean the stove grates and burner caps with common household items and a little elbow grease. Some grates, not all, can be placed in the dishwasher or an oven on the self-clean oven. However, they may still need a good scrubbing to remove baked-on grease and bits of food.
Safety First and Always
Make sure to have safety measures in place to ensure you and the stove top don't get hurt. Wear gloves and safety goggles when scrubbing away at caked-on grime on the grates and burners. Bits of soot and grease can fly quickly. Always work on a stove top that has had hours to cool down after the most recent use. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and consult the manual before attempting a cleaning procedure.
Cleaning Cast Iron Stove Grates
Soak the grates and burner caps in a sealed bag for at least three hours or overnight with 1/4 cup of ammonia. This will loosen baked-on oils easily, but the grates may still need a good scrubbing with a soft sponge. To keep them in good condition, stove grates can be washed weekly with sudsy, warm water and thoroughly dried. Be extra cautious when working with ammonia. Avoid breathing in the fumes and wear protective clothing to prevent skin contact.
Ovens and Dishwasher Recommendations
Some grates can also be placed within the oven when it is in self-cleaning mode. GE Appliances warns that any grates with rubber bumpers on the bottom should not be placed in the oven or dishwasher. Always check the owner's manual before placing cast iron stove grates or stove caps in the oven or dishwasher.
The dishwasher may seem like a good way to get the nooks and crannies of those clunky cast iron stove grate thoroughly clean. However, the harsh environment can damage the cast iron.
Oiling Cast Iron Oven Parts
Grates that have made a trip through the hot interior of the oven or dishwasher can look dingy even after cleaning. A light coating of cooking oil along the grates and wiped over the caps can return the gleam after a good scrubbing.
Vinegar to Clean Stove Caps
The burners can take a good spraying of straight vinegar on a daily basis to keep them sparkling clean. This will cut the grease down before it has a chance to harden on the surface of the oven burner. Spray the burner lightly with the vinegar and let it sit for 15 minutes before wiping away with a soft, clean cloth.
The Maids notes that it's important to stay away from the electric starters that sit on top of the stove and just under and to the side of the gas stove burner. When these oven parts get wet, it will cause them to fire continually, which can last for 24 to 48 hours. This can damage the starter, which, consequently, may then need to be replaced.
When to Call a Professional
Cleaning the cast iron stove grates and round caps regularly should keep the underlying automatic igniters functioning safely and the fuel ports free from getting clogged with grease and grime. However, if the burner doesn't roar to life when the automatic igniter is engaged or the fuel ports are so clogged that the flames flicker inconsistently, then it may be time to call in some professional help.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.