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13 Ways You’re Shortening the Life of Your Stove Top

Want to keep your stove top running for as long as possible? Avoid making these very common, very damaging mistakes.

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These common mistakes will cost you

If you think repairing an appliance is costly, try buying a new one. There are very few things that feel as frustrating as getting rid of an expensive appliance that’s just a few years old. The worst part? It could be due to your mistakes! Even the most reliable home appliances on the market need to be properly maintained or their shelf life can be significantly shortened. That is very true for something like a stove top, which will need to be replaced much sooner than it should if you’re inadvertently making any (or all!) of these 13 mistakes on a regular basis.

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You don’t read the manual


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It’s not fun, but you should read the manual of your appliance as soon as you have it installed. Thumbtack pro Oleg Karpynets of Quality Appliance Repair San Francisco says failing to do this can create problems in the future. “Yes, manuals can be extremely boring,” he admits, “but they’re very helpful in keeping your appliance happy and healthy. Manuals can contain special tips for correct cleaning and care.”

Store all of your manuals together in one place such as an accordion file organizer so they’re easy to find. Label the tabs with the name of the appliance and you’ll always be able to find the right one as soon as something goes awry. Are you bad about keeping manuals? That’s likely the reason you’re using these 36 kitchen items wrong.

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You step away while you’re cooking


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Contrary to the saying, a watched pot will indeed boil—and if you’re not watching, it may very well boil over. It may be tempting to leave the kitchen when you’re boiling water or heating up liquids, but even small spillovers can lead to big trouble. Why? Spills, splashes, and other accidents can create stuck-on debris or clogs, according to Paul Berry, owner of Mr. Appliance of San Antonio, a Neighborly company. And if you ignore them, they can cause damage to the appliance, shortening its life.

When a boil-over or spill occurs, be sure to clean it up immediately with an absorbent dishcloth.

clean burner clogs stovetop
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You don’t clean burner clogs


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Do you ever go to use your stove top and light a burner, only to have it not work? Don’t ignore this problem. A burner that doesn’t light is likely clogged, so it needs to be cleaned. According to Berry, if a burner clogs, it can corrode the part and, thus, shorten the life of your appliance. If clogs are never cleaned out, the openings where the gas comes out will decrease in size. “This can potentially lead to inefficient gas burning and possible hot spots in the pan, meaning not a uniform delivery of heat,” he explains. “This could also lead to limited options for repairing the appliance. And if left clogged, burners could eventually just stop functioning properly.”

If you need a little extra help cleaning, try Easy Off Specialty Kitchen Degreaser Cleaner. This product can be used not just on your stove top, but also on backsplashes, microwaves, and most places that aren’t easy to degrease with your regular oven cleaner alone. Appliances tend to need repairing at the worst times. Even if you’re not at fault, this is when your appliances are most likely to break down.

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You ignore debris on a glass stove top


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Glass stove tops are a popular choice for those looking to achieve a sleek, modern look in their kitchen. However, if you let dirt build up, you’ll likely be shopping for a new appliance sooner than you might have planned. “A glass stove top full of streaks, burn marks, and baked-on stains completely voids the whole aesthetic,” says Sarah Brunette, brand director of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company. “This is why maintaining your glass stove top and cleaning it on a regular basis is of the utmost importance if you want to enjoy it for many years to come.”

While cleaning grime can seem daunting, it’s not if you know a few tricks such as keeping a product like Weiman Ceramic and Glass Cooktop Cleaner on hand. For the best results, use it shortly after your stove top has cooled down. But if you’re short on time, here’s how to clean your kitchen in five minutes.

water clean stovetop
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You flood the stove top with water


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Sometimes, less is more—and that is definitely true when it comes to water and your stove top. “We’ve seen stove tops (both gas and electric) short out when our customers use too much water to clean them,” explains Karpynets. “It’s important to remember that a gas cooktop is an electric appliance too, and there are control boards, electric switches, and high-voltage wires right underneath your burners. Flooding the stove top with water in an attempt to clean it is never a good idea.”

It’s best to avoid putting water or other liquids directly on your stove top; instead, wet a scrubbing pad, like these from Pure Sky Kitchen. You should do this routinely to avoid a grimy buildup. While you’re at it, learn the right way to clean an electric stove top too. Keep in mind that your stove top isn’t the only surface that needs regular care. This is the best way to clean a greasy, dusty oven hood.

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You use a razor blade to remove buildup


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Sometimes, a serious stove top situation calls for a serious solution. But that solution should never entail removing stuck-on debris with something sharp like a razor blade, especially if you’re dealing with a glass stove top. Brunette says this is a hard no and instead suggests using a silicone or plastic spatula. “This is a great tool because it’s flexible and safe, rather than using the single-edge razor blade or anything sharp that may scratch the glass surface,” she says. And yes, it works.

Just be sure to use a spatula that can take the heat such as the Rubbermaid High Heat Scraper. It’s even available in several sizes, so you can clean any mess, whether it’s large or small.

wire brush stovetop
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You clean the surface with a wire brush


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Baked-on dirt can be tough to remove, but Karpynets emphasizes that using a wire brush can create an even bigger problem in the long run. “We’ve seen spark electrodes ruined by excessive cleaning using abrasive products like wire brushes,” he explains. “Those are delicate parts, and they need gentle cleaning.”

Instead, use the Weiman Cooktop Cleaner Kit which has a scrubbing pad specifically created for this surface. The kit also has a razor blade, but we advise finding an alternative use for it.

glass stove tops
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You don’t clean with a product specifically designed for glass stove tops


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Using a product designed with your appliance in mind is ideal. When it comes to your stove top, cleaning expert Melissa Maker recommends the Scotch-Brite Glass Cooktop Wand. It not only removes dirt—it also keeps your hands from getting dirty. “Just add water to the surface and scrub the affected area,” she says. “Within a few swipes, the grimy buildup that’s been a major source of stress starts to melt away and reveals a shiny, clean cooktop surface.”

chemical cleaner stovetop
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You use chemical cleansers


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Believe it or not, natural products you probably already have on hand can be more effective (and safer) than pricier, chemical-based cleaners. “Sprinkle baking soda directly onto the stove top, and use a clean, damp microfiber cloth to scrub the spot clean,” Brunette says. If you encounter a stubborn spot, she suggests this easy fix: “Add a few drops of distilled vinegar to the baking soda, which should completely clean it.” Are you cleaning your home with paper towels? Here’s why you should be cleaning with microfiber cloths instead.

burner cap stovetop
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You don’t adjust a misaligned burner cap


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An unaligned burner cap can prevent ignition. “If the igniter on your gas stove clicks and clicks without the burner ever lighting, check to make sure your burner cap is in place and properly aligned,” Berry says. “If you aren’t sure, listen to see if the igniter is louder than usual.” Much like a clog, this can cause corrosion and shorten the life of the appliance. If your burner cap is chipped or damaged, it’s best to replace it with a new one before anything goes seriously wrong.

gas leak stovetop
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You ignore the signs of a gas leak


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Gas leaks don’t simply shorten the life of your stove top. If the appliance explodes, it will need to be replaced—and worse, an explosion can also be deadly. The smell of gas is usually a good indication that there’s an issue. “While it’s normal to smell a small amount of gas when you turn on the range, if the smell appears before you turn the appliance on and lingers across your home, this might indicate a leak and a hazardous condition that needs immediate attention,” Berry explains. “Promptly open the windows and call your local gas supplier from outside of your home.”

If this happens more than once, it’s a smart idea to buy a gas leak detector, like this one from EG, and install it in your kitchen. Your oven isn’t the only appliance that can explode.

High Angle View Of Man Repairing Gas Stove At Home
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You try to fix the problem yourself

In most cases, appliance repair is best left up to professionals. “There are instances where an individual may try to repair their appliance, then once they’ve got it all taken apart, unfortunately then realize they can’t figure out what’s wrong with it,” says Berry. “And they realize they can’t figure out how to put it back together.” This can also cause additional damage and end up making repairs more expensive. If you want to tackle a home project, stick to these 40 home repairs anyone can do.

Young woman having a morning coffee in her Downtown Los Angeles apartment
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You wait too long to call a professional

The bottom line is, the longer you wait to address an issue, the bigger—and costlier—your problem will be. “The greater risk that the damage or issue will increase [when you wait too long], or cause subsequent issues that may require repair, can increase overall repair costs to the appliance owner,” says Berry. Next, find out if you’re making any of these 7 mistakes that shorten the life of your refrigerator.

Amanda Lauren
Amanda Lauren is a design and lifestyle expert who covers all things home for RD and among other publications. When she's not in front of a computer, recording her podcast Bougie Adjacent, or re-arranging furniture, she enjoys Los Angeles with her husband and wrangling their two dogs, Milo and Lulu.