Induction and Glass Cooktop: Stovetop Care and Repair
Since heat is created only in the cooking utensil and food, this glass-ceramic surface remains fairly cool. Spills can be wiped up with a wet sponge or paper towel, and will not cook on quickly as they would on the "smooth-top" type. Abrasives should not be used, as they can scratch the surface.
Turn diamond rings on fingers away from the surface and be sure that utensils have no rough spots in order to avoid any scratches. Be sure the surface is clean before the heat is turned on, and that the bottoms of pans are clean and dry to avoid burning on soil.
Avoid spills and boil-overs by turning down the heat to the lowest possible setting for the cooking task, and by using large enough pans. Wipe up wet spots promptly, being careful to avoid steam burns. Don't cook with foil on the smooth top—it could be damaged by the foil melting into it. You also want to cover pans to prevent spatters.
Pans of soft metal such as aluminum can rub off on the harder glass surface, making gray or black marks. Copper bottom pans rub off less, but do not give as good of a cooking performance as aluminum. Heavier weight and harder aluminum mark less than lighter weights.
Smooth the bottoms of new aluminum pans with a mild abrasive. Do not slide pans across the surface; lift the pan up when moving or shaking (like when popping corn). Keep the surface protected with a cleaner-conditioner. Never use foil on glass tops; rubbing it across the surface also makes dark metal marks.
Smooth Glass Top Ceramic Cooktop Cleaning
The smooth, glassy surface has no crevices for dirt and spills to hide, but it has to be kept clean to avoid soil burning on and staining. Wipe the surface when it is cool with a clean damp cloth or a clean damp paper towel to remove any spills, soil, or spots. Do not use the dishcloth that is used to wash dishes as it will leave soiled detergent solution on the top, which may show up as brown streaks when heated. A mild detergent solution (such as hand dish-washing liquid in warm water) or baking soda in warm water can be used to clean it. Always be sure to rinse off all cleaning solution thoroughly and wipe with a clean paper towel at the end of the cleaning process.
Special cleaners sold by the manufacturer of the cooktop made specifically for this material should be used periodically. Apply with a clean, damp paper towel, and then wipe with another clean, slightly-dampened paper towel. Follow any label instructions on the special cleaner, or the manual instructions that came with the cooktop. These cleaners leave a protective coating on the surface and remove dark marks from aluminum or copper pans or racks slid across the cooktop.
Dark marks from metal rubbing on glass top MUST be removed before they are heated. Heat can permanently cement them into the surface. For copper marks, rub with a plastic or other non-abrasive scrubber and a mildly abrasive cleanser such as Bar Keepers Friend or Delete. For aluminum, place two paper towels soaked with diluted chlorine bleach (1 part bleach to 4 parts water) on top of the mark for about one hour. Then, clean it with a non-abrasive cleanser. After using a mild cleanser, re-coat the glass top with a sparing application of the cleaner-conditioner. Remove any excess conditioner with a clean, damp paper towel. Allow the polish to dry before heating the surface.
Common Problems and Solutions
If sugar syrup boils over, act at once as it's very hard to remove. Turn the unit to its lowest setting, and at once wipe up the spill with a thick pad of paper towels or clean cloths. Be very careful not to touch the hot syrup, which can burn badly. While the unit is still warm enough that the syrup has not hardened, scrape it off with a single-edge razor blade held at a slant, being careful not to cut fingers or scratch the cooktop. Do not touch the hot syrup with your hands.
For other burned-on messes, such as hot grease, plastic wrap, or an item accidentally melted on a hot unit: Cool unit until your fingers won't be burned; use plastic or nylon pad not treated with any cleaner, and special smooth top cleaner to remove as much of the spill as possible. If some burned material is still stuck, use a single-edge razor blade as you would for the sugar syrup. Let only the flat edge of the blade touch the surface to prevent scratching it.
Thin brown lines are scratches from particles of salt, sugar, sand, etc. that were caught under bottom of a utensil. They cannot be removed. Prevent this by keeping a protective coat of special cleaner on the surface, and wiping off gritty substances of dirt from the air with a clean dampened paper towel before cooking.
Gray or brown stains that don't come off with special cleaner may be deposits of minerals from water or food. Using special cleaner daily with a clean, damp paper towel helps keep deposits from building up. If you have built-up deposits, see the manual for cleaning instructions.
For difficult spots, scrub with baking soda as a cleaning powder on a damp paper towel and rinse thoroughly or use a non-treated plastic or nylon pad. Or, you can use a fine cleanser gently. Do not use any regular scouring powders, treated pads, metal pads, oven cleaners (which are caustic and can etch), or rust removers (which are acidic and can etch). Always apply the special cleaner for protective coating after scrubbing with the materials suggested.
Note: European models have controlled top temperatures on burners, thus preventing spills from quickly baking onto the surface and becoming impossible to remove. American models may move in this direction.
Solid Element Cooktops: Care and Cleaning
These are solid cast iron disks, sealed to the cooktop so no spills can get under them. Follow manual instructions for care and cleaning. Some have a coating which protects them, and needs to be heated and hardened before cooking anything to prevent the coating from sticking to utensils.
Wipe the element when it is completely cool with a damp cloth. For heavier soil, use mild cleaners as recommended by the manual. Always rinse thoroughly and dry completely by heating so it won't rust (it is cast iron!).
This article has been contributed in part by Michigan State University Extension