It’s inevitable that, with regular use, your stove will get covered in grease. Dish-soap wipedowns can’t remove all of the accumulated grime, and eventually—about once a year or so—you should undertake a heavy-duty scrubbing of your stove. The following process works on both nickel-plated and porcelain-coated stoves and parts. Start by procuring some common cleaning elements: a 3M blue scrubber (you can use the green ones on porcelain, but not nickel-plated finishes); a small, soft brass brush; and a cleaner good at degreasing—Dave Erickson of Erickson’s Antique Stoves recommends Simple Green.
Remove the grilles and burner covers, and submerge them in a five-gallon plastic tub with three parts Simple Green and one part water. (If you have an electric stove, only soak the drip pans, not the burners.) Burner covers that are heavily coated in grease can first be placed on the sidewalk and sprayed with oven cleaner before going into the soaking tub (allow the oven cleaner a couple of hours to do its job). Next, cover up the adjoining floor with a dropcloth or newspapers. Then, wearing gloves and working in a ventilated room, completely spray down the stovetop with the Simple Green. Let it sit for 20 minutes or so, then use the scrubber to gently remove the accumulated muck. After you have loosened some material, rinse with clean, warm water. Repeat the process until all the gunk is gone. On porcelain, you also can gently scrape using a sharp 1″ razor blade.
After an overnight soak, the grilles and burner covers (or drip pans) are ready for a scrubdown, too. These can be scrubbed with the wire brush. Oven interiors should be tackled with a standard oven cleaner; always follow manufacturer’s directions.
Once the parts are clean, make sure to completely dry the burner covers—lay them in the sun for a few hours, or put them in a 250-degree oven for an hour. Then, season them to help keep food residue from accumulating in the future: Lightly spray with olive oil Pam (not the vegetable oil version), then rub with a rag. The oil also will make them black and shiny. After replacing the covers, if the flame fires unevenly, check for an obstructed hole. Straighten out a paper clip, and gently insert its end into the holes around the burner; the flame should bounce right back.