Electric Hob Cleaning
Cleaning your hob the right way so it looks better for longer and lasts
When we refer to “electric hobs” what we mean is the more traditional type of hob on a cooker, built in hob or range cooker but one that is not a ceramic glass type hob top.
This will leave only two types, the older radiant ring type that was generally only seen on older cookers in the UK and rarely on built in hobs and of course the newer sealed version of those that are commonly referred to as as hotplates or sealed hob heating elements.
Hopefully the tips here will prevent you from having to change the heating elements sooner than you really should need to or ending up with an unsightly hob like the one on the image which is beyond saving if you ask us.
Following the simple tips here may save you expense and hassle.
The older radiant ring types have been on the decline for many years as they aren’t really pretty and not exactly energy efficient so, in the modern era of “going green” they’ve largely been phased out here in the UK and the rest of Europe but do seem to have an enduring popularity in some other regions, notably the USA.
In essence these are the same idea as the newer sealed heating elements but they are more open.
The good thing in is that they will usually be very easy to keep clean, most things on them are very obvious and often the hob to will lift up making access and replacement of these heating elements pretty easy for most people.
Older elements can be treated with Collo cleaner to bring them back to looking “black” and hiding minor imperfections, some minor rust pitting and so on.
If you clean these every few uses just with a cloth or sponge they are usually fine and normally don’t really need a lot of maintenance.
Sealed Heating Elements
Sealed plates look prettier to most people but they do require a bit more in the way of maintenance.
These tips whilst not essential will extend the life of your hotplates and quite probably the hop top by a fair way, you can get a lot more years of use with only a modicum of care and maintenance.
Show your hob a little love and you will get more from it.
The first thing to know is that you will need to “season” the every so often to prevent them from pitting or rusting on the top cooking surface.
Doing this is much the same as you would season a wok or a pan that doesn’t have a non-stick coating.
All you need to do is put the hob zone on at the lowest setting, very lightly cover with olive oil (we find olive oil works best) using a cloth or a bit of paper kitchen towel and then after the whole surface is shiny turn the heat up a bit and leave it for a few minutes.
Turn the hob off and allow it to cool down.
This is real simple but stops water getting to the metal as the oils forms a barrier that will protect it, at least from the worst and doing this can immeasurably extend the life of these heating elements. Correctly maintained doing this will get you many time the life so, it’s well worth dong on a regular basis.
How often is hard to call as mileage will vary depending on your use but, as a rough guide for most people, once a month or every second month is usually okay.
Don’t worry if some of the oil goes over the chrome trim and onto the hob, it will wipe off and probably seal the gaps there and this is nothing to be concerned about, so long as you keep up with the maintenance.
The Chrome Trim
Which brings us to the chrome trim that we’ve mentioned before in several places on the site.
They are a pain the proverbial!
They all discolour, often after only a single or a few uses you will see an iridescent (rainbow effect) type pattern form on them and many people think this is wrong, it’s not, it’s just the way they are.
If these get damaged or start to rust, which we will point out is always a result of poor maintenance, spillage or both, there’s no coming back from it. There’s nothing you can do other than replace the whole element to clean that up.
You can restore the plate surface, the black bit. However, there are limits.
We see adverts online where you see pictures of these types of plates being magically transformed from old and scrappy looking, covered in rust and pitting, to looking like brand new using some “wonderful” product or cleaner.
The first thing we’re going to tell you is, that’s complete manure. It ain’t going to happen.
We recommend Collo cleaner, it’s German, works, has been about for decades and it’s the same or similar to most of the types of cleaner we’re talking about here but we think this is the best one. So much so we don’t bother with the clones of it as, far as we know, Collo is the original and still the best.
What it does as they all do, is to go on a little bit like boot polish that melts onto a warm (not hot) plate and re-blackens the plate masking any pitting, rust and so on as well as putting a protective coating on the plate itself.
It’s really good stuff and can make the plates look a million times better but, it’s not a miracle thing that will give you shiny new plates. It will cover up and hide most minor issues and make the plates look a lot cleaner but if you’ve got major pitting or any holes it won’t solve that.
And importantly, no cleaner will.
The ads we often see for this sort of cleaner are annoying as they can give what we feel is a false impression, we’d rather tell people the truth as we usually do.
Our opinion is that Collo is the best of the bunch but if the plates are really bad, the only choice is to replace them.
If you need any advice on whether to give Collo a shot or replace, just email us a picture of the zones and we will try to advise as best we can on wether you will get away with using a restorer like Collo or the better option is to replace the plates.
But products like Collo cleaner are like seasoning, if you do it reasonably regularly then your hob heating elements will last longer, no doubt about that at all. So it's best to look at this as a thing to use on a regualr basis, not just in crisis.
The Enamel Hob Top
For all types, radiant ring or solid heating element, there will be an enamel top around the heating zones.
If moisture from spillage gets under the enamel it’s game over. It will rust and once that takes hold the hob top will just gradually deteriorate over time and this will often happen quickly.
It is really important to clean up especially major spills as quickly as you can.
Given that this can only be caused by spills and often a lack of care most manufacturers don’t cover this (or anything else in this article) even in warranty. Some extended warranty companies will cover it but that varies depending on the policy of the company and the level of cover.
When we spoke earlier about the oil from seasoning the plates getting into the gaps between the plates and the hob this can actually help with this problem. Th oil can form a barrier that helps prevent moisture from getting underneath the hob and starting it to rust.
It won’t save you from major spills or from constant poor care but, it’s no bad thing for most people.
When you clean the enamelled surface of the hob, don’t use abrasive cleaners, you’ll wreck it!
Try to clean spillage as soon as possible, the longer it sits on the hob the more it can become a problem and some stuff you cook can “eat” into even the best enamel coating.
Even stuff you can’t see there, when the hob is used again and gets hot can start to burn leaving unsightly residues or coatings, especially so around the heating elements where they start to rise out the hob or meet it.