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How to clean your hob

Need to get your hob clean? Which? Trusted trader Mark Woollard from The Ovens and Hobs Cleaning Company gives some great advice.

Having a clean hob is worth a bit of elbow-grease – there’s nothing that’s going to put you off your culinary ambitions faster than filthy surfaces. But what’s the best way to get rid of baked in grime? How you best clean your hob will depend what materials it is made from.

Step one is to arm yourself with some tools and consult the manufacturer's manual for detailed cleaning information.

If you don’t fancy getting your marigolds on yourself, Which? Trusted Traders has specialist oven and hob cleaning companies in your area who can help. If you’re up to the challenge, read on for Which? Trusted trader Mark Woollard’s top tips.

Obviously the best idea is to clean regularly so that grease and grime doesn’t harden and become more difficult to shift. However, that’s not always possible – sometimes you just have to make the best of a tricky job and that means having the right tools.

Tips on oven cleaning tools

You may not need all of these tools – it’ll depend on the type of hob you want to clean – but give yourself the best chance of doing a good job by using the right equipment. Mark regularly uses:

  • A hob scraper – this 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 – this 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 – this 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' – although these 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 – it’s old-school, but 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.

So once you’re all kitted up – where do you start? It all depends on what sort of hob you have. For more information on the different types of hob, check the Which? guide to different types of hob.

   Cleaning an enamel hob

Enamel hobs are a classic choice for many kitchens. They have the advantage of being resistant to scratches. As Mark says, 'Enamel hobs are easy to clean because you can be forceful with them'. They will however chip if you clean them incorrectly. Mark recommends investing in a hob scraper – a small tool with a retractable blade which you'll find in a supermarket or department store for about £5.

When using the hob scraper to remove stubborn build-up of grease, he says 'You can clean reasonably aggressively, but never present the hob scraper to a curved surface as you may damage the enamel.'

Once you have removed any build-up with the hob scraper, you can apply a paste solution of bicarbonate of soda to work on any residue of grease and gunk. Leave it on the hob for a good period of time to soften any residue and work on stains. Use a good quality cloth to remove it, so you can scrub without it falling apart.

A polishing cloth or just an old tea towel should finish the job and bring your hob up sparkling clean.

Cleaning a ceramic hob

Ceramic hobs are vulnerable to scratches so you shouldn't use abrasive cleaning products. The procedure is the same as for an enamel hob but you have to be gentler, and use a hob scraper specially designed for ceramic hobs. 'Use a ceramic-hob scraper 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.

If you would rather a professional got to grips with your grease, then Which? Trusted Traders has endorsed oven and hob cleaning specialists available in your area.

Cleaning a stainless steel hob

Stainless steel requires a softly-softly approach. Under no circumstance should you use abrasive tools on a stainless steel hob, as it will scratch.

Prevention and regular cleaning really is essential with a stainless-steel hob. 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. In this instance, even a professional oven cleaner will be unable to help.

You can use a microfibre cloth and a weak bicarbonate of soda solution, working with the grain of the steel. Don’t use a circular motion as this may leave noticeable rings behind. As an alternative you can try using natural cleaning solutions like orange, lemon or vinegar.

If your hob has seen better days and you’d like to invest in a new one, check the Which? guide to buying the best hob.

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.'

While it is possible to put racks in the dishwasher, Mark wouldn’t recommend it. ‘Dishwasher salt can cause them to rust,’ says Mark. ‘If you want to do that, you should wash them with thoroughly with water afterwards.'

However you decide to clean your iron racks, you should also oil them occasionally. Mark recommends using groundnut oil that can be applied 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,’ he says.

Cleaning gas burners

There are different types of gas burner but the majority 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,’ says Mark. ‘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.

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