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What is the Effect of Oven Cleaner on Kitchen Countertops?

  • August 26, 2019
  • / By Dale Keese
Food Preparation

Food splatters, hardened grease, oil, and persistent stains are some of the things that you need to deal with in your kitchen. If these find their way onto your countertops, then just wiping them to keep the countertops clean will not suffice. You will need to do a lot more than just wiping your countertops to get them to look clean, shiny and attractive.

Food Preparation

Often when faced with stubborn stains, grease, oil, etc. that cannot be removed easily, people look to oven cleaners for help. However, before you decide to use an oven cleaner with heavy chemicals to remove the dirt and grime, just stop and think what is the effect of oven cleaner on kitchen countertops?

Most oven cleaners contain lye or sodium hydroxide, which is a very harsh and hazardous chemical. You can also find other chemicals such as turpentine, ethanol or MEA (monoethanolamine), which is a combination of ethanol and ammonia, etc. Some oven cleaners may also contain soda ash (sodium carbonate), which is an alkalizer that is commonly added in swimming pools. The other ingredients present in oven cleaners may include emulsifiers, fragrances, and foaming agents, to name a few.

The resultant product what you get is a spray foam which helps to soften the surface grease in your oven and dissolves the charred remains of the greasy leftovers that cling to the walls of your oven and allows you to scrape them off easily.

How Do Oven Cleaners Work?

When powerful chemicals present in the oven cleaner come in contact with the oil and grease in the oven, a bubbling reaction is caused which eats away the oil, grease, and dirt and lets you clean the oven easily.

Rustic Kitchen Design

Dangers of Using an Oven Cleaner to Clean Kitchen Countertops

It is not surprising that the mixture of harsh and dangerous chemicals in oven cleaners can be quite toxic. And using an oven cleaner to clean the kitchen countertops that you use as a surface to prepare your food can be hazardous to you and your family’s health. The toxic chemicals in the oven cleaner can come in contact with your foodstuff and even cause food poisoning.

Although your kitchen countertops have a protective layer, it is usually very thin. It can protect the countertop from minor bumps and scratches. However, the heavy-duty oven cleaner with its stew of chemicals can damage and penetrate the protective layer of the countertops and finally, the kitchen countertops will be completely exposed.

The bubbling reaction that occurs when the chemicals in the oven cleaner comes in contact with the dirt and grease on your kitchen countertop can cause the toxic cocktail of chemicals in the oven cleaner to embed itself and be absorbed by the countertops, which not only you but your entire family touch and you also prepare your food on. And, using oven cleaner to clean your kitchen countertops frequently will cause leeching that will build up in the long run and become a serious health hazard.

The lye contained in oven cleaner can strip or cause damage to stone countertops, which are commonly sealed with polyurethane. The lye can also damage the grout sealer used on tile countertops. And, if you do notice oven cleaner spilled on the countertop, wipe it off immediately. Wiping down the area with some vinegar (which is acidic) can help to neutralize any lye residue.

Ethanol or MEA is a powerful solvent, which can cause the surface of your kitchen countertop made from Corian, vinyl or any other synthetic material to get permanently discolored, especially if there has been a spill that remains on the kitchen countertop for many hours.

And, sodium hydroxide releases hydrogen gas, which is flammable when it reacts with aluminum. This causes the aluminum to get permanently discolored and so, you must take care never to spray oven cleaner on an aluminum countertop.

Effect of Oven Cleaner on Kitchen Countertops

While you may believe that the oven cleaner will help you remove grease and stubborn stains from your kitchen countertops very easily, but the toxic chemicals in the oven cleaner can cause more permanent damage. The chemicals in the oven cleaner easily penetrate and eat away the top layer of the kitchen countertop and disfigure and damage your countertop permanently.

Let us now take a look at what is the effect of oven cleaners on kitchen countertops made of different materials.

Cleaning Spray

On Wooden Countertops

Wooden countertops having a clear coat or a varnish coat are most susceptible to damage when you use an oven cleaner. The chemicals in the oven cleaner easily penetrate through the top layer of the countertop and soften it making it sticky and gummy. While some wooden countertops may harden again, others will not go back to their original look and you will have to refinish the surface of the countertop.

On Tile Countertops

If your countertop is tiled, then it is not a good idea to clean it using an oven cleaner. If you leave the oven cleaner on the tiled surface for too long, the top glaze will be eaten away by the chemicals in the cleaner and the countertop can get seriously damaged.

On Stone Countertops

Countertops made from natural stones such as marble, granite, and other stones may be tougher and may be able to withstand the harsh chemicals in the oven cleaner compared to other materials. However, cleaning these countertops with oven cleaner is still not recommended. While they may not be very seriously damaged by the use of an oven cleaner, the finish is sure to lose its sheen and become dull and spotted.

On Formica Countertops

Just like countertops made of stone, Formica countertops are at a lower risk of suffering damage if you clean them using an oven cleaner and rinsing the cleaner and wiping the countertop immediately. However, there is always a risk of color damage.

However, if you have been using oven cleaner to clean your kitchen countertops and your countertops are damaged, there is a chance of restoring the finish on a countertop with a solid façade by polishing it. Also, you can oil your butcher block and seal the countertop to prevent further damage.

Family Dinner

Choosing a Better Alternative

It is always safer, as well as, a healthier option to choose natural cleaners over a chemical-based oven cleaner. Cleaning stubborn grime and grease stains the natural way can seem to be a lot of work; however, there are very easy ways to do it.

Here is how you can make your own natural homemade countertop cleaner:

  • In a spray bottle, take 4 parts (400 ml) of water.
  • To this, add 1-part (100 ml) white vinegar.Add a few drops of dishwashing soap to the above mixture.
  • Close the bottle and stir it gently. Take care not to shake the bottle.
  • Spray the solution on your kitchen countertop and then wipe it clean using a microfiber cloth.
  • Now, you have your countertop looking all clean and shiny!

It is important to understand what effects an oven cleaner can have on your kitchen countertops, and on your health, because this is where you prepare your food. It is always a good idea to choose a natural and non-toxic cleaner to clean the dirt and grime off your kitchen countertop because it is a safer and healthier alternative for a clean and sparkling kitchen.