Dirty Drip Pan Blues

Dear Home Ec 101,

How in the WORLD do you clean off the reflectors on the stove top after you’ve successfully made them the most horribly dirty items in your house?  I am down to one burner that I can use without setting my fire alarms off!


~Smells Like Smoke in Smallville

Heather says:
Oh, how I love my ceramic top stove. You, my friend, have just reminded me just how much I hated that chore. I have several methods; but if your electric range’s drip pans  are as dirty as you say, I’d pull out the big guns.


How To Clean the Stove Drip Pans on an Electric Range

The nearly fool proof way to get greasy and grimy drip pans clean is to spray each pan thoroughly with oven cleaner. Then place the pieces in a garbage bag, or a pail with a lid; and close tightly. Place the bag or bucket outside over night, then wash with regular detergent.

For not quite so dirty electric range reflectors Barkeeper’s Friend comes in handy. The oxalic acid, a safe and non toxic chemical, will help remove grease.

Another option I have heard repeatedly, but not tested, is to soak the drip pans in a dishpan with a dryer sheet. If you try this version, email your results, I’d love to read a testimonial.

Lastly, if the oven cleaner method does not work, drip pans are reasonably priced between $1 and $6 each. Don’t beat yourself up if they don’t come clean. File it under live and learn, just don’t let them get quite so filthy next time.

Send your household questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.


  1. Jinny on November 18, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    I have recently discovered a wonderful way to clean those drip pans…..crumble up a sheet of tin foil and dip it in water. Use this to scrub, it takes a little elbow grease but results are fantastic. This also works greast for rusty bicycle rims

  2. linda on June 30, 2015 at 8:40 am

    i have a older electric ge cookstove and i am not sure how to remove the reflector pans i am not sure that they can be removed am i just dumb !!!!!!

  3. Rene on January 6, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    The stove top drip pans are a piece of junk these days. Looks like you have to buy new ones if you want your stove to look half way decent. I tried all the cleaning methods mentioned in the blog, much to time consuming and dangerous.

  4. Mignondee on November 27, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    So…my drip pans were terribly encrusted with crud and I was down to using only two of them for cooking. I filled my sink with boiling hot water, dish soap, baking soda, and white vinegar… (about a cup of bs and v)… and let them sit for about an hour. Used a soapy Brillo pad to remove stuck on gunk and pans are good as new!

  5. Jadag23 on August 24, 2012 at 5:51 am

    @Kate icommenting have done foil for years and it has. Never cought fire!

  6. Jadag23 on August 24, 2012 at 5:46 am

    I have heard that this works really good for oven drip pans
    1. GET W D 40

  7. Jadag23 on August 24, 2012 at 5:36 am

    It’s kinda hard not to eventually haft to toss them ther very cheap and made out of junk sorry to say but things are not made like they use to be do please don’t beat your self up over it it does not mean u are not cleaning them belive me my mother in law is 78 years old and her house is white glove clean and she has to throw hers out!!!!

    • Dr. Malama on January 11, 2016 at 1:03 pm

      They are meant to be replaced! Planned obsolesance just like many other modern convienences (cars, washers, etc.) These REPLACABLE PARTS are for our protection and cost protection, preservation. Come on peps, Ralph Nader can’t warch your back forever so stop drinkinking the dumb down koolaid and smarten up.DO NOT USE FOIL…. 40 YRS. E.R. Dr. Experiences with burn victims, mostly children who climb up on stoves!!!!

  8. Jadag23 on August 24, 2012 at 5:36 am

    It’s kinda hard not to eventually haft to toss them ther very cheap and made out of junk sorry to say but things are not made like they use to be do please don’t beat your self up over it it does not mean u are not cleaning them belive me my mother in law is 78 years old and her house is white glove clean and she has to throw hers out!!!!

  9. Ellen on June 25, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    I just tried the dryer sheets thing while soaking mine in water. I’m pretty freakin’ impressed! Mine are the ones that cost a little bit more, but are dishwasher-safe. They were all nasty and crusty and hadn’t been washed in about 100 years. I soaked them with 3 dryer sheets in hot water for at least an hour (I lost time due to Facebook addiction). When I took them out, they were like 98% uncrusty! I scrubbed them with the dryer sheets and some steel wool and holy smokes they are just about good-as-new. I’m soaking them again to see if I can get the last little morsels of crustification off. I found your blog by Googling “How to clean stove drip pans”. Thanks for the tips! 

  10. Ken S on March 10, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Just wanted to post saying the Barkeepers Friend did the trick for me!  Had horribly dirty drip pans.  Stuck them in the sink, squirted them with Barkeepers Friend, came back about 15 minutes later with a green scratch pad, good as new!

  11. Jennifer on January 10, 2012 at 9:28 am

    My drip pans were horried yesterday (to the point this writer talks about). I filled my sink with hot water and put 1/2 Cup of baking soda in the sink then stirred it with a spatula so the baking soda would dissolve. Then I put the drip pans in for 15-20 mins depending upon how dirty they were. Then I wiped them odd with a sponge. They look as good as new.

  12. Andy Pants on December 31, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    The dryer sheets work! Hot water and three dryer sheets. Soaked for 45 minutes, and came back and used the dryer sheets to scrub them with. Easy scrubbing. Shiny drip pans.

  13. Jasmine on December 7, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    I used the dryer sheets and it worked!!! No more setting off fire alarms for me ! 🙂

  14. mokuola on August 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I know using a lemon removes everything from a grill, so I wonder if it’d work on drip pans…

  15. Julie on May 21, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    My favorite thing in the world to use is Cerama Bryte. It is cheap and will remove anything and you can use it on any ceramic top stove. I will put a link to the store I get mine from. They are they cheapest I sound and they also have the cheapest shipping. Any way I put a little cerama bryte on my stove after cooking and let it set while I set and letmy food digest. I get up and with a damp rag I wipe away all of the mess I made leaving me with almost new looking cooktop.
    My recent post Priced Right Parts Launches New Easy to Use Web Site

  16. Netherland on May 3, 2011 at 5:34 am

    I love this stove!!! After a week of going back in forth between this size and the smaller one, and reading countless reviews I made my choice and selected this larger one and I am so happy that I did!! I ordered the stove on Tuesday morning and it arrived Wednesday afternoon, how is that for service? It looks great and it fits perfectly under our TV. We live in a drafty house built in 1936 and even though we live in central Texas, the winters at times can be quite cold

  17. Mrs.Sly on January 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    my biggest problem is getting the burner to go back down can anyone help? i have a very old stove.

  18. Jennifer on December 26, 2010 at 2:55 am

    I just wash them with my dishes with Dawn whenever they get yucky. It usually works just fine.

  19. Name on September 23, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    If it is dirty enough that scrubbing won't get the grime off, just buy new ones…I think I've gone through about four sets already this year. Visitors keep insisting on cooking and then letting things boil over – ugh! Anyway it is not worth my time to scrub forever & still have not so clean drip pans. Definitely worth the money though!!!

  20. tawmgirl on August 22, 2010 at 1:51 am

    Rose and Kate, you don't mention if its GAS or ELECTRIC. Big difference, I believe, if you see a fire hazard immediately, then yes, the foil didn't work. I would never have to do this if I had a Gas stove……..Electric is different and needs to be watched if you're using any cleaning product, even natural Tarter methods. Knowing this is any cleaning procedure, I wouldn't even put "food" close to the burner until it's totally clean or burned off and not a fire hazard before I start cooking again. To be con'td……………

  21. TAWMGIRL on August 22, 2010 at 1:43 am

    I'm going cheap, and try the foil method first, I'm renting, and sick of the sludge in the drip pan in the electric stove stop and and only two of the four work! I'll try this and let you know shortly…. Good suggestions, nonetheless! TW

  22. Kate on July 23, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Do NOT put foil on your drip pans!! This can be a SERIOUS fire hazard!!

  23. Rose on November 2, 2009 at 1:39 am

    My GE manual says not to cover the drip pans with foil. It says "Using foil so close to the receptacle could cause shock, fire or damage to the range."

  24. Chester on May 8, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I have used both oven cleaner and cream of tartar and water and they do work, but they can take a long time to get the job done. I really like to use Dawn Power Dissolver. This stuff destroys baked on grease and grim. It works great on the oven and microwave too. Give it a try.

  25. Carpet Cleaning NY on May 3, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    I agree with Melissa. A little Cream of Tartar and hot water. It'll definately do the trick.

  26. Rebecca on April 30, 2009 at 9:11 am

    I don’t wash the drip pans nightly, but I do throw them in the dishwasher whenever I have a pot boil over, or its been too long between cleanings (you know, you can’t ID the spots and its been months since I have cleaned them).

    Last time I bought new ones, I got black ones instead of the shiny metal ones. It hides the burnt on bits, and I can go longer between washes. They were a bit more than the metal ones, but they are also more heavy duty, and trust me I can be quite the whirlwind of destruction in the kitchen.

    Oh, and another solution that works until you turn the wrong burner on, the decorative burner covers.

  27. Keter on April 29, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    I have a smooth surface cooktop now, but for years had to deal with the drip pan thing – usually in rentals with really OLD stoves. The tinfoil thing works, but on some models, it prevents the elements from sitting down flat so they rock when you’re trying to cook on them. When that’s an issue, try this: start with a new set of drip pans, spray them with cooking oil spray, and then wash and respray them after every use. It adds to your dishes, but it keeps the drip pans from turning into huge messes. Eventually the oil will form a nonstick sort of coating on the drip pan, like seasoning cast iron. It will be brown, but will wash off very easily.

  28. nil zed on April 29, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    I’ve never lived in a house with both electric stove & dishwasher, so I’ve never tested this theory:
    if you put the drip pans in the DW nightly, would the buildup not get so bad?

    I relied on the foil method, & occaisional replacements justified by company coming. Or when moving out.

  29. Kat on April 29, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    yeah well ladies, I wish i had a ceramic one (its me wish list) but for now, its rusted, yuck looking, but try to keep it clean..in actuality, i need a new stove! but have to live with what i have for now, but those suggestions are great! thanks! 🙂

  30. Jenn on April 29, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    My drip pans are in serious need of scrubbing too and the first thing I’ll try is to boil them in some water with baking soda. That helps loosen the gunk. Then maybe I’ll try the barkeeper’s friend or see if I can borrow a dryer sheet from someone who uses them.

    A ceramic stovetop is very high on my wish list!

  31. Melissa on April 29, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    I use a few teaspoons of Cream of Tartar, and a little hot water. It even removes the little spots of rust!

  32. Heather on April 29, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Becca and Jackie,
    Both of these are excellent suggestions. I used to do the foil trick. I remember being amazed the day I discovered the whole metal top of the range was hinged and I could scrub under the burners. I don’t know if it’s true for all models, but even with drip pans it was nasty under there.
    In addition to regular foil, they also sell foil covers made to fit pans, your mileage may vary, of course.

  33. Becca on April 29, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Hooray for ceramic stovetops! But I remember, all too well, the joy of having to clean those drip pans.

    I, personally, would use salt to help scrub off the burned on debris that wouldn’t come off during cooking. I’d soak the drip pans and then go to it with a little salt and a scouring pad.

    Back in the rental days…..I would keep a pair of “new” ones in the cabinet to be swapped out with the everyday stained ones for special occasions. This way when company came over, etc…….my stove top could look shiny clean. (I was in college and working 2 jobs….& appearances matter). Once the folks go home….put your dirty looking ones back on the stovetop!

  34. Jackie on April 29, 2009 at 10:06 am

    After you get them cleaned, cover them with tinfoil and then you won’t have the problem again. My mother always did this, and I do this on my little stove in my basement (I have a ceramic top in my main kitchen).

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