Kitchen countertops come under heavy use. Chopping up vegetables, placing hot pans on them, spilling fluids, and kneading dough, they withstand it all.
Many kinds of kitchen countertops exist, from durable stone countertops to inexpensive Formica countertops. The common factor they all have is that they need to be cleaned regularly.
Surface cleaners are made specifically to clean kitchen countertops, just as oven cleaners as made specifically to clean ovens.
Seeing how well oven cleaners remove grease and oil from inside the oven, you might be tempted to use them for your countertop.
Before you decide to do that, you should know how oven cleaners affect your countertops. Most countertops have a protective layer to shield them from dents, scratches, and such.
However, this layer is not enough to protect them from toxic chemicals.
The chemicals in oven cleaners can easily penetrate the protective layer, damaging the surface permanently.
As the color fades away from your beautiful countertop, you might have to consider replacing it, which can be costly.
How do Oven Cleaners work?
Oven cleaners contain many powerful and harsh chemicals. Lye and sodium hydroxide are two very toxic and hazardous chemicals.
Other toxic chemicals include ethanol, turpentine, or MEA (monoethanolamide), ammonia, or sodium carbonate. Fragrances, foaming agents, and emulsifiers are often included as well.
These ingredients are sprayed onto the oven walls and surface to soften and dissolve the grease. A bubbling reaction occurs, eating away the dirt, grease, and oil. This makes it easier for you to clean your oven.
However, using an oven cleaner on countertops does not have the same effect. It is a corrosive agent which can permanently damage the surface.
Cleaning the countertop with an oven cleaner can have disastrous effects depending on the material it is made of.
Using Oven Cleaners on Wooden Kitchen Countertops
Wood is the weakest material in terms of kitchen countertops. You can imagine how damaging strong chemicals can be to this type of material. For this reason, oven cleaners have a serious impact on them.
Many wooden countertops have a transparent varnish or finish.
When the harsh chemicals of oven cleaner come into contact with it, it produces a sticky glue-like layer.
Of course, with wood, you can always re-paint the countertop, but you will never achieve that first look.
How to clean wooden countertops instead?
Scrape and wipe away any dirt or crumbs on the surface. Use dish soap, water, and a sponge to clean the countertop.
For stains, you can sprinkle some salt on the area, and rub with a half-cut lemon.
Let it sit for a while before rinsing with water. A 3% hydrogen peroxide solution is also effective yet safe for stains.
Using Oven Cleaners on Tile Kitchen Countertops
The toxic agent, specifically lye, present in oven cleaners destroy the grout sealer of tiled countertops.
This protecting layer is meant to act as a barrier to protect the surface from absorbing water.
Long exposure to chemicals can cause the top glaze to become dull. Moreover, oven cleaners also ruin the finish of the tiles, leaving an ugly appearance. More often than not, you will need to replace the tiles.
How to clean tile countertops instead?
Commercially prepared tile cleaners are available in the market. They are less toxic than oven cleaners.
You can make your own tile cleaner by mixing baking soda, liquid soap, water, and vinegar. This would be ideal for everyday use.
Using Oven Cleaners on Stainless Steel Kitchen Countertops
Stainless steel seems like an indestructible material for a kitchen countertop. Apart from being incredibly sturdy, it also adds a modernistic, aesthetic appeal to your kitchen.
Oven cleaners can dull the appearance of stainless-steel countertops, making them lose their iconic shine. This is even more apparent if the steel has a proportion of aluminum in it.
Sodium hydroxide in the oven cleaner can discolor the metal. Consequently, they will leave unsightly stains on your countertop.
How to clean stainless steel countertops instead?
Some manufacturers produce dedicated stainless steel surface cleaners. Dish soap, water, and vinegar are non-corrosive natural ingredients that can clean stainless steel counters.
A mixture of water and vinegar can even help keep the surface shinier for longer. Use a microfiber cloth to avoid leaving scratches.
Using Oven Cleaners on Marble or Granite Kitchen Countertops
Marble and granite are more durable and resistant materials for kitchen countertops. They can withstand a considerable amount of harsh chemicals.
The toxic chemicals have a minimal effect on stone countertops when compared to others. Unfortunately, even they are not immune to the effects of oven cleaners.
Oven cleaners can tarnish the finish of the stone countertops, making the surface look faded. The abrasive chemicals can leave the countertop irreparable.
Polished, honed, or leathered granite will also be affected. The marble surface would lose its lustrous, shiny, elegant look.
How to clean marble or granite countertops instead?
Avoid acidic or abrasive cleaners to maintain the overall look of the stone.
A microfiber cloth can help you restore the marble’s shine. Water and dish soap is usually sufficient for daily cleaning.
Using Oven Cleaners on Formica Kitchen Countertops
Formica, laminate, or vinyl countertops are relatively inexpensive and low-maintenance. With various styles available, they are a suitable alternative for stone countertops.
However, they are not heat or scratch-resistant.
Although more resistant than wooden countertops, oven cleaners fade the color of Formica countertops. They will lose their aesthetic appearance, which cannot be restored with polish.
How to clean Formica, vinyl, or laminate countertops instead?
Similar to stone countertops, you can use water and dish soap to clean your Formica countertop. For tougher stains or grease, you can use a mixture of white vinegar and water.
Do not scrub the surface too much as it is prone to scratching.
The Health Hazards of Using Oven Cleaners
As discussed before, oven cleaners are highly toxic products, and many sprays have warnings on their container. You are advised to use the spray with the utmost caution and care.
You must ensure that you use gloves and protective glasses to avoid harmful fumes.
Sodium hydroxide present in the oven cleaner releases hydrogen gas. This is highly flammable, especially if you have some chemical residue left on your counter.
Keeping that in mind, it is not wise to use oven cleaners on a surface where you prepare your food.
Even after you have cleaned the countertop thoroughly, there is a chance of some residue remaining.
Some countertops can even absorb the chemicals, which becomes very difficult to remove.
If the chemicals come in contact with your food, it can result in food poisoning and other health hazards. Even your kitchen utensils and appliances can have some residue left on them.
After all, the countertop is the most frequently used part of any kitchen.
Using Natural Cleaners for Kitchen Countertops
For countertops, it is recommended to use safe, natural, homemade cleaners, or even dish soap. A mixture of white vinegar and lemon juice works wonders.
Let tough stains and grease marks soak for a while before you scrub them off.
Sodium bicarbonate is another ingredient that works excellent when used with vinegar. These homemade cleaners do not produce toxic fumes, so they do not pose a health hazard.
Anytime a kitchen is renovated, a great deal of consideration, time, and budget is spent on the countertop. It needs to functional and visually appealing. You don’t want to waste your efforts by cleaning it with the wrong product.
Countertops can be cleaned in a manner of ways that do not involve toxic chemicals.
Other than natural surface cleaners, there are various kitchen-safe surface cleaners out in the market. So, leave oven cleaners for cleaning the appliance they’re made for.
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