Are you cleaning your kitchen counters, or are you corroding them? What is the effect of oven cleaner on kitchen countertops? Many kitchen cleaners contain chemicals that can damage your kitchen counters’ material and sealant. They worsen the stains instead of removing them, and can leave them permanently dull and discolored.
Oven cleaners melt away the protective finishes and seep into the countertop material damaging its appearance, weakening its structure, and making it more prone to food contamination. Of all the cleaning products in your kitchen, oven cleaners are the worst cleaners you can use to clean your kitchen countertops.
Even worse, oven cleaners can also damage your health—from instant irritation upon contact, to long-term risks. Some of its chemicals are also found in gas and anti-freeze. You would never dip your food in these products, but you are pouring them on your countertops where you prepare your family meals. Other ingredients have been classified as carcinogens by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Find out more about the effect of oven cleaner on your kitchen countertops, and your health.
Almost all oven cleaners contain lye (a corrosive that breaks down substances upon contact) and alcohol (which liquifies varnishes and finishes).
Lye (sodium hydroxide) is one of the most common ingredients in oven cleaners, paint strippers, and drain decloggers. It has also been used to decompose animal carcasses—a clear indication of its powerful corrosive properties.
Since lye has been used as a paint stripper, you should never use it on any countertop that has been painted or sealed with a clear finish. This includes:
Oven cleaners can contain either one or both forms of alcohol: ethanol or MEA (monoethanolamine). These are strong solvents that can permanently discolor countertops made of synthetic materials, such as vinyl, Formica, or Corian.
The alcohol is less likely to show visible damage on stone or tile countertops, but it can dull the finish of wooden countertops.
There are different ways that chemical compounds in oven cleaners can pose a health and safety risk.
|Ingredients||Type of Substance||Health Risk|
|Lye (sodium hydroxide)||Corrosive|
|Skin: Rashes, itching, burning sensation, chemical burn, and permanent scars. Eyes: Burns, swelling, pain, and blurred vision. Ingestion: Nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. |
Source: CDC, CCOHS
|Diethylene glycol monobutyl ether (also called 2-butoxy ethanol)||Volatile|
Classified hazardous substance
|Dizziness, Lightheadedness, Coughing and wheezing, Nausea, Vomiting, Damage to liver and kidneys, Damage to fetal development.|
Source: NJ Hazardous Substance Face Sheet, WHO
|Eye irritation and swelling, Throat, and respiratory tract irritation.|
Source: CDC, EPA
Classified hazardous substance
Classified workplace hazard by the OSHA Poison
|Headaches, Dizziness, Nausea, Eye irritation, Damage to the liver, kidney, and cardiovascular system.|
Source: CDC, EPA
|Petroleum Distillates||Volatile||Headaches, Drowsiness, Nausea, Eye irritation, Throat irritation, Skin Irritation |
These methods can help hide or minimize the appearance of stains left by oven cleaners. However, some stains may be too deep to remove, and discoloration can be permanent. You can have your countertops refinished. This restores them to their original appearance and provides a protective layer that will prevent further damage.
Oven cleaners are for ovens. If you want to remove stubborn stains and dirt from your kitchen counters, then look for the appropriate product for the material that it is made from. Here are some suggestions.
Use a non-abrasive cleaner, or make one from warm water mixed with a little white vinegar. Scrape hard or sticky residue with a spatula. Wipe counters completely dry after cleaning to prevent water stains. However, if you notice a light discoloration, rub half a lemon with salt on the area and wipe away with the water and vinegar solution.
Regularly apply oil or wax to wooden counters to strengthen the protective seal and prevent warping, cracking, and staining.
One of the benefits of natural stone is that it’s durable and easy to clean. You just need soap, water, and a microfiber cloth. Avoid abrasive or acidic cleaning products and tools, which can scratch the stone. Never use vinegar on this type of surface, because it dulls the finish.
To maintain stone countertops in top condition, have them resealed at least once a year.
Quartz resists scratches and stains, but you need to be careful about damaging the resin. You can clean it with water and soap. If you need to use a stronger cleaning product, look for one that is PH-balanced and rinse it off right away.
Laminates are very low-maintenance and can be cleaned with just water, liquid detergent, and a soft cotton cloth. Don’t use any cleansers that contain acids or alkali, which can cause discoloration.
Keep steel countertops clean and shiny with soap, water, and a microfiber towel. You can buy cleaners that are specially made for stainless steel, which can help remove stubborn smudges.
Instead of using oven cleaners to remove stubborn stains, just wipe your kitchen counter with a gentle but effective cleaner every day.
Oven cleaners can damage your kitchen countertops and your health. Find better options for cleaning your countertops and when in doubt shoot me an email using the contact page.