Cleaning Stove Burner Drip Pans/Grates! Or, How My Mom Totally Didn’t Try to Kill Me That One Time.

red stove graphics fairySo, this post is less cleaning your oven with ammonia and more a public service announcement about working with ammonia. But, yeah… it’s also about cleaning your oven. I know. Super glamorous… but one must have something to do in between getting ready for awards season,  philanthropic galas, and my ambassador to Luxemburg duties. Mustn’t one?

Anyways, there are several pins floating around Pinterest about cleaning pieces from your electric stove (drip pans, racks, grates, coils, etc.) with ammonia. The instructions are simple. Put items in plastic bag, pour ammonia in bag, wait, clean. My drip pans were gnarly, so I thought I would give it a shot. All of the pins rave about using ammonia and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of this trick before! My drip pans didn’t fit into my gallon-size plastic bags and I didn’t have any schmancy, oversized ziploc bags- which would have been ideal. In doing more research, I found that you could use a plastic garbage bag for oversized items, which is what I did. I double bagged my drip pans (because why wouldn’t you?!) in garbage bags and poured ammonia in the bag. I, immediately, tied the bags closed and rushed them to the porch outside. It was crazy, as soon as I opened that bottle of ammonia, I had an immediate and hyper-vivid flashback to my childhood.

Back in 5th grade (1990), I forgot to empty my plastic lunchbox of the food remnants (bread crust, fruit rinds, milk box, etc.) before Christmas Break. Flash forward to January whatever and the night before the first day of school. I opened the lunchbox and it was FILLED with a brilliant array of colorful mold and a smell that just wouldn’t quit. My mom threw many bottles of cleaning stuff on the counter and threw some splashes of product in the lunchbox. She walked off telling me to scrub it out while she folded laundry in the other room. I added additional splashes of what I thought she had used. A little bleach… a little ammonia. At age 10, I was no scientician, but lemme tell you… as an ADULT, I know that bleach and ammonia create a type of chlorine gas. I remember, even after seconds of exposure, my eyes were burning, my throat was hurting, my nose and throat were on fire. I left my lunchbox full of chlorine gas in the sink and went to complain to my mom. Assuming I was being a typical 10-year old, I was told, “to deal with it”… or something of that nature. The kitchen continued to fill with gas as I diligently continued scrubbing (through the tears- no less! 🙂  ) until it was sterilized. I rinsed the lunch box out with water, flushing the sink and its contents down the drain. I promptly ran out of the kitchen. Cut to many years later when I learned that ammonia and bleach mixed is like the worst.

poisonFlash forward to present time.  When I CAREFULLY un-bagged my drip pans the morning after- emphasis on carefully (like, gloves, ventilation, carrying the bag around on a towel, etc.)- and rinsed them off I was, indeed, surprised to see how much gunk actually came off. There was, however, a great deal of scrubbing afterwards to get it clean. It still requires some elbow grease. Even after this experiment, my drip pans were still only 96% clean. So, yes. Cleaning stove burner drip pans with ammonia works.  I know it works. There are, for me, just a lot of caveats. I just recently read about leaving a bowl of ammonia in your stove overnight and it having the same miraculous cleaning effects. I’ve also read that people use it to clean their glass. I did find it interesting that some posts mention not to mix ammonia and bleach, but others did not.

I guess I’m just really sensitive to ammonia. Should I just get over it? Is it a miracle cleaner and I just don’t know how wrangle it?  Do you have any tips?

And, by the way, I don’t think my mom was trying to kill me. Right? RIGHT?! 🙂

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  1. Leigh, My (great) Aunt Recie used ammonia as…. well, let’s just say you fainted or were having a dizzy spell- she would make you smell it to ‘bring you back’. I just remember her telling me to go it from under the sink so she could get a whiff of it. I’m glad you didn’t die back in ’90!

  2. I once had a boss who was a little OCD…Lothar Wiechula…really that was his name. One Monday morning he came in telling me how he spent Saturday night in the emergency room after trying to use every cleaning product he had to clean a tile shower stall. Yep! You got it. He mixed bleach and ammonia and it sent him to the hospital with burning eyes, hands, etc. I’ve made sure to keep those two ingredients apart ever since!

    • There is no way that name could have been made up… so I know its real. I keep reading stuff about how great ammonia IS as a cleaning agent… but it really is amazing how dangerous these household items really are when you aren’t informed. Lothar Wiechula. Love it.

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