Tackling Difficult Stains on a Smooth Top Stove

Dear Home Ec 101,

I am well acquainted with the razor blade to clean the dried food spots on my smooth-top stove; however, there are “places” on my stove that cannot be felt with the fingers, and there is nothing to scrape with the razor blade, they’re just mars, I guess. I have a less than two-year-old stove that has these little places all over the burners and do not come off even with the special cleaner.
Do you have any ideas about these stubborn spots?
Stuck in Stuart
How to clean a very stained smooth top range

Heather says:

I did some research, and this does seem to be a very common complaint among owners of black or speckled cook tops. Since your stove may still be under warranty (1 – 5 years generally), please call and see if they’ll replace or repair the top or if they have specific instructions for dealing with this type of mark or damage.

If calling the manufacturer doesn’t work

Do I have to tell you to make sure the stove is cool before cleaning it? If not, please wait until the stove isn’t going burn you severely —or even minimally. Try making a paste of

Try making a paste of Bar Keepers Friend and water OR baking soda and water, OR dampening a paper towel with white vinegar and placing any one of these over the stained areas. Allow this to sit for several hours before trying a nylon scrubby style sponge.

Never use copper or steel wool on your ceramic cooktop, no matter what you see people recommending on sites like Yahoo Answers. This is a quick way to seriously scratch your cooktop, and once it’s scratched, there’s really no recourse. And if you say you don’t care about scratches, remember that scratches catch dirt and make your stove even harder to clean.

I have seen MAAS recommended by some home care experts, but I would suggest discussing this with the manufacturer of your stove first, to avoid voiding your warranty or inadvertently causing further damage. Yes, this may mean a second phone call. I hate them, too. 

Electric stoves or ranges have a lifespan of 11 – 15 years.

The lifespan of your range will depend upon several factors:

  • The quality of the stove itself
  • The amount of use the stove receives – if you use the stove multiple times a day, it will not last as long as a stove that gets used infrequently. This guideline is based on average use. If you have a large family and cook often, you are not average. Sorry?
  • Whether or not the stove is regularly cleaned. 

An unfortunate fact of life is that some stains and wear are inevitable in our homes and at some point, you try to fix them, realize that it’s going to be more effort than it’s worth and start calling it a patina. I hope one of the suggestions listed above is helpful, but really, don’t get your hopes up too high. Sometimes stains are permanent. 

Unsolicited budgeting advice¹ to make life easier in the long run.

Consider setting up a “sinking fund” for your home’s appliances. In addition to my regular bank, I use an online bank that lets me have 26 free savings accounts. Each one of these accounts is dedicated to looming expenses. I have things like the car repair fund and the braces for the minions fund. Even if you only start by putting $5 a paycheck into your appliance replacement fund, you’ll be glad it’s there the day the refrigerator quits or the repairman tells you that fixing the stove or dishwasher will be more costly than replacing it. You will reduce the amount of money that comes out of your regular budget. To be clear, a stove qualifies may qualify as an emergency, but the dishwasher doesn’t. You can suck it up and handwash dishes. Needing to eat out will blow through more of your budget in no time. 

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

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Home-Ec101.com is not a Registered Investment Advisor, Broker/Dealer, Financial Analyst, Financial Bank, Securities Broker or Financial Planner. The Information on the Site is provided for information purposes only. The Information is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice or any other advice, is general in nature and not specific to you. Before using Home-Ec101.com’s information to make an investment decision, you should seek the advice of a qualified and registered securities professional and undertake your own due diligence.


  1. Michele on February 2, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    I had a boil over of cranberry sauce and it was really stuck to the smooth top surface. I went online and found a suggestion to pour baking soda directly on the dirty area and pour white vinegar (heated in the microwave) over the baking soda. It foams up and eventually my large stain was gone. It took a few applications and perhaps half a box of baking soda. So happy!

  2. KeterMagick on February 24, 2012 at 1:18 am

    I recently had a huge mess on my black (speckled with a little gray) glass cooktop when I accidentally let some strawberry jam-in-progress boil over.  After wiping and scraping as much as I could, I tried scouring with baking soda on a Magic Eraser, which usually does the trick, but not on this.  So I grabbed the Brasso and went at it.  It took some elbow grease, but the burned stuff did polish off and the surface was left smooth.  I then washed off the Brasso residue.  If there’s any discoloration left, it doesn’t show, ‘cuz it’s already black.  ;o)
    One of my friends, however, had a white cooktop that got yellow/brown stains.  At various times she used vinegar, bleach, TSP, and hydrogen peroxide  (SEPARATELY!!!) left soaking on a cloth for a few hours, with varying degrees of success from each. In an all-white kitchen, a white cooktop looks awesome, but once stained…well, it sticks out like a sore thumb.  She has a gas stove now.
    BTW, I don’t know about the others with black cook tops who complained of staining, but I’m 10 years on with this one and it still looks terrific (minus one little scratch courtesy of the hubby, which isn’t visible unless you are viewing it from one precise angle).  Two years ago I had to replace the control for the high heat burner, but it was a relatively simple DIY job.  I wouldn’t have anything but a smooth glass cook top after my experience with this one….so long as it’s black!

    • casey1977 on February 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      @KeterMagick: How did you get the new contold? My ‘big burner’ (the one that has both a small and large ‘spot’ has a broken knob courtesy of my cleaning lady. I’ve been calling and emailing the company for months and all I get is ‘there is no retailer in your area’. I’m assuming the knobs are brand specific – of course I don’t recall what brand mine is right now.

      • John Graybeal on October 2, 2016 at 2:39 pm

        Try repair clinic.com for the part, you will probably need the model number and brand of your stove.

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