Q: I own a Viking Professional Range — a 36-inch, black enamel model with a hood, which I bought in 2003. The range works fine, but the top, steel backsplash and oven are really grimy. I have had some success in cleaning these parts, but I would really like to have the range restored to a near-new condition. Do you know if any companies can help with this?
A: You might be able to find an appliance repair company that will clean it. Calls to a half-dozen companies in the Washington area found one — Commercial Refrigeration & Home Appliance (703-338-8710; dmvappliancerepair.com). But you'd need to arrange for a visit to get an estimate, and that would cost $59 if you then opted not to have the work done. And maid services, which generally clean the exterior of a range as part of a regular visit, will sometimes also clean the oven for an extra fee. (One company cited $20.) But for the kind of deep-cleaning you want, you may need to do it yourself or hire someone who will perform the specific tasks you want.
The combination of food spatter and heat makes stoves hard to clean. Complicating the issue is the variety of surfaces involved: stainless steel, bare steel, cast iron, porcelain enamel and, in your case, aluminum and a printed surface. While an alkaline cleaner or a mild abrasive might be just what you need on one part, it could damage another.
The materials used for specific parts vary by manufacturer and model, so you can't just go by the cleaning tips you find online. For example, some sites recommend using baking soda. That might be fine if the part has an anodized, painted finish, as Viking ranges sold today do. But on Viking stoves made when yours was, this part was bare aluminum, said Dorian Olson, a Viking service technician. Baking soda and other alkaline cleaners discolor aluminum. So, for you, the best solution is to periodically scrub the burners down to a uniformly shiny surface with extra-fine (000) steel wool, he said.
Begin by reading the care instructions for your range on the manufacturer's website. If you have questions or want to substitute cleaning products, call the manufacturer's customer-service number.
For stainless steel parts, Viking, like many manufacturers, recommends hot, soapy water and a soft cloth, with a rubdown using a microfiber cloth at the end. But when the spatters build up or if there is rust, you need something more powerful. Olson recommends a soft cloth and WD-40 Multi-Use Product or Goof Off Heavy Duty Remover. These products won't scratch the stainless steel.
If that's not enough, switch to superfine steel wool (0000) and rub only in the direction of the brushed finish. On your stove, that "grain" runs horizontally, Olson said. Scrubbing with steel wool, or any other abrasive, will alter the look, but once the grime is gone, you can scrub the entire backsplash and restore it to a uniform look.
Griddles on Viking ranges are "machined steel with a blanchard finish," notes the company's cleaning brochure. That just means it is bare steel that was ground flat with a rotary grinder, like griddles on many brands. The key problem is that it can rust if it is left damp. Viking recommends cleaning after "heavy cooking" by pouring room-temperature club soda on the griddle when it has cooled down but is still warm. The bubbles dislodge grime, the griddle warmth keeps the residue mobile, and the and the middle-of-the-road temperatures of the soda and griddle prevent shock, since flooding a hot griddle with cold water could lead to warping or even a crack. After this cleaning, Viking says to season the griddle by rubbing it with a paper towel moistened with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of unsalted vegetable oil (not nonstick cooking spray, because it contains water, or corn oil, which has a high sugar content that will burn). Wait an hour for the oil to sink in, then wipe off the excess.
When a griddle needs heavy-duty cleaning, the company suggests buying its Griddle Cleaning Kit. Listing for $179, the kit seems overpriced given that you can buy the main components on your own. 3M's Scotch-Brite Liquid Griddle Quick Clean No. 710 (same ingredients as the kit cleaner, which has been discontinued) is $10.49 a quart at webstaurantstore.com. A box of 20 Scotch-Brite No. 46 scrub pads is $24.99 on Amazon.
Alternatively, Olson scrubs his still-warm grill with cooking oil and a grill screen, an open-mesh abrasive that resists clogging better than scrub pads. A grill-cleaning kit with a holder, 20 grill screens and 10 polishing pads is $15.49 at webstaurantstore.com; a box of 20 replacement screens is $2.29.
For the remaining range parts, he also has recommendations.
Grates on your stove, like many, are cast iron. Olson recommends cleaning them with Bon Ami, which has a milder abrasive than many scrubbing powders and doesn't contain ingredients that are not good for cast iron. For example, don't use a powder with chlorine bleach (such as Comet) or oxalic acid (such as Bar Keepers Friend or Zud).
Under the grates, the bowls are black enamel. It's safe to use oven cleaner to loosen stubborn spills on porcelain enamel, but manufacturers don't always recommend it for stovetops because of the risk of spatter on other surfaces, Olson's remedy: Apply the oven cleaner to a cotton rag or paper towel, then place the saturated cloth against the spill. Wait the recommended time for the debris to soften, then wipe it off and rinse thoroughly. Or, on parts that are removable, take them outside and spray them with newspaper underneath.
Most new range ovens have self-cleaning settings. If you need to spot-clean, Olson's trick of moistening a cloth with oven cleaner works here too. But use caution if you are cleaning the oven door. Do not get cleaner or rinse water in the vent holes or the liquid might seep down between the panes of glass on the door.
To clean the surfaces of the window, Olson recommends using a new single-edge razor blade held at a sharp angle for the oven-side glass. Moistening the glass with a little water or glass cleaner helps. On the outside, glass cleaner and a soft cloth usually do the trick.
For the knobs, the cleaning instructions say to remove them and clean them with hot, soapy water, but not to soak them, which could cause print on them to rub off.
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