How to Clean the Burners on a Gas Stove
Gas stoves are speedier than electric cooktops, except when they lose effectiveness when a burner gets clogged. A clogged gas burner will give off a weak flame or, in some cases, no flame if the burner is badly soiled. Learn how to clean gas burners and get back to cooking in a snap.
How Gas Burners Work
The burners on your gas stovetop consist of a burner assembly attached to a small gas intake valve on the front or top of the stove, which is in turn connected to the main gas line. Turning the burner control knob opens the intake valve, allowing gas to flow through the venturi tube, a wide pipe that narrows in the center. The gas enters the venturi through one of the wide ends, increasing in pressure as it passes into the narrow section of the tube. As the gas passes back into the second wide section of the tube, the pressure lessens, drawing in air through a small hole in the bottom of the tube. The air mixes with the gas and flows into the burner.
The burner head itself is just a hollow metal disk with holes or slots in the outside edge. Many burners are designed with a metal or ceramic cap that sits atop the burner head and diffuses or directs the flames emerging from the burner head. A standing pilot light (on older stoves) or an electric spark pilot is located on one side of the burner, and it sends a small flame or spark to ignite the air-gas mixture as it flows through the holes in the burner. Adjusting the control knob on the stove governs the volume of the air-gas mixture, thereby controlling the intensity of the flame.
How Often to Clean Your Stove's Gas Burners
A gas stove system is remarkably simple and trouble-free. In fact, difficulties arise only when the flow of gas becomes hindered, which is often caused by food residue that spills over the sides of pots and pans and clogs the ports around the burner heads. If left unattended, this food residue can become quite hard and difficult to remove. The best rule of thumb is to clean gas burners whenever the flame becomes irregular or exhibits a yellow color. Barring that, cleaning the burners once a month is probably sufficient. There is some variation in how manufacturers recommend cleaning the burner heads on a gas stove, but the following materials and steps will work for most stoves.
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What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Drying cloth
- Dish soap
- Non-abrasive scrub pad
- Old toothbrush
- Baking soda
- Paper clip
Read Manufacturer's Instructions
Knowing what kind of care is best for your appliance will go a long way in protecting your investment. The product manual that comes with your cooktop will help you know which areas are safe to remove for cleaning, making your job a much easier one. The manual may even suggest recommended cleaning products (or products and ingredients to avoid). This can be a good starting point in learning how to clean and unclog your burners. If you no longer have the printed manual, you can probably download it from the manufacturer's website.
Remove Burner Caps
If you have an older cooktop with a standing pilot light, you'll need to shut off the gas valve before you begin. Many gas burners have a removable ceramic disc that sits atop the burner to diffuse the flames. If this is the case with your stove, simply lift this disc off the burner, making sure the burners are completely cool before doing so.
Remove Burner Heads
Beneath the caps, the burner head sits atop the venturi tube. Remove the burner heads by lifting straight up. Take care not to bend or damage the ignition electrode if your stove uses this design.
Soak the Parts
Soak the burner heads and caps in a mixture of liquid dish soap and warm water for about 20 to 30 minutes. This will help loosen debris that is hardened on.
Scrub Burner Heads and Caps
Using a non-abrasive scrub pad and an old toothbrush, scrub away food stains from all surfaces of the burner heads and caps. If debris remains in the port openings, use a straightened paper clip to dig it out, but take care not to damage the metal. Don't try to dig around too deeply in the portholes, and never use a toothpick, as there's a risk that the wooden pick will break off and further clog the ports.
For extremely stubborn stains, make a paste of half baking soda and half water. Apply it to the surfaces of the burner heads and caps, and scrub with a non-abrasive pad and toothbrush. This may take repeated applications, but it will usually remove even the most stubborn stains.
Never use bleach or steel wool to clean stove burner parts.
Rinse the Parts
Rinse all parts thoroughly under running water, shaking them to remove excess water, then drying with a cloth. Allow all the parts to then air-dry completely before reassembling the burners. As the parts are drying, you can turn your attention to cleaning other parts of your stove, such as the grills and drip pans. The same soak-and-scrub method is a sure-fire way to clean these parts, as well.
Reassemble the Burners
Once completely dry, you can reassemble the drip pans, burner heads, caps, and grills. On electronic ignition stoves, take care not to bend or damage the ignition electrodes as you reinstall the burner heads.
Relight the Pilot Lights
On stoves with standing pilot lights, follow the manufacturer's instructions for relighting the pilot flames. Test the burners to make sure they operate correctly—any unusual flame color or shape may indicate that the burner heads are not completely dry, or that the caps are not seated correctly over the burner heads.