hot water bath canner, I nearly always end up with a dark brown or black ring around the burner. The water and dish soap recommended by my stove manufacturer doesn't even begin to touch this kind of dirty, and other things I've tried, like Bar Keeper's Friend, scratch the surface of the stove, causing permanent damage.
You may not have this trouble with canning, but if you accidentally let a pot boil over, or you cook something greasy, or if you cook on a stove that's already dirty, you may have just as much trouble getting the stove top clean as I do.
Happily, at last I've found an easy, safe way to clean even the dirtiest of stove top!
What You Need:
Plastic wrap (or plastic shopping bags)
How to Do It:
1. Begin by cleaning the stove as best you can with a little dish soap placed on a wet sponge. Don't bother to scrub a lot. Just a good wipe down does the trick.
2. Place paper towels over the still-soiled areas. Fold the paper towels, if necessary, so they don't go over the sides of the stove. (Because that would lead to cleaner dripping off the stove and onto other surfaces.)
3. Pour a little ammonia over the paper towels. I like to pour it into a tablespoon first, then drizzle it over the towels; it doesn't take much to saturate the paper towels. I don't recommend putting the ammonia in a spray bottle, because this puts the cleaner into the air.
4. Cover the paper towels with plastic wrap. Ammonia is really pungent, so open a window or door in the kitchen, for good ventilation. If you've touched the ammonia, wash your hands. Leave the stove alone for 3 hours.
NOTE 9/6/13: If you don't have plastic wrap laying around, plastic grocery bags make an excellent substitute.
5. After 3 hours have passed, remove the plastic wrap and paper towels. Wipe down with a sponge (no dish soap is needed). If necessary, scrub a little - but it probably won't be necessary. If there are still spots that are tough to clean, place the paper towels and plastic wrap back over those areas. After an hour or two, remove the plastic wrap and paper towels and wipe off the stove. Dispose of the paper towels and wrap in an outside garbage can. Wash your hands.
NOTE: Use a similar method for the stove's drip pans. Just place them in a large, seal-able plastic bag, then add a tablespoon or two of ammonia. Seal and allow to sit for 12 to 24 hours.
CAUTION: Never mix ammonia with bleach. The combination creates a toxic and deadly gas. Keep ammonia in an area where children can not reach it.