This Scrubbing Tool Helped Degrease the Inside of My Oven—No Chemicals Required
When you spend as much time as I do in the kitchen, learning how to clean everything in it isn't just a chore, it's a necessity—and in a weird way, a point of pride. For years, though, there's been one spot that has eluded me: the see-through glass pane on my oven door.
It's a tricky spot because drips happen, and high temperatures bake them into permanency, but you don't want to use a lot of harsh chemicals on a surface that's coming into close contact with your food. As a result, I've gone through countless sprays and scrubbers—and two ovens—trying to remove years of baked-on grease and grime without luck. It turns out, the tool I needed all along was never in my kitchen arsenal, but it could have been in my beauty one.
The KitchenStone ($16 for 3) looks like one of those porous pumice blocks pedicurists use to remove calluses from your feet. In reality, it's made from recycled glass windowpanes, a much more eco-friendly material than pumice, a volcanic rock, which is strip-mined, destroying wildlife habitats. It removes dirt in a similar way to exfoliating dead skin, mechanically rather than chemically. And it really works.
I was doubtful that this glorified foot scrubber could do what boiling water and baking soda hadn't been able to touch, but in about ten minutes of light rubbing, my oven windowpane was spotless and scratch-less. I didn't even need water!
I had to know how it worked, so I contacted Tony Cronk, president of Summit Brands, the parent company of the KitchenStone. The company didn't invent the product, but added it to their portfolio after "scouring the market" (I couldn't tell if he intended this cleaning pun or not) for something different.
While chemical cleaners, known as surfactants, work by binding to molecules of dirt and pulling them away from whatever they're stuck on so they can be washed or wiped away, the KitchenStone works entirely by mechanical means. The stone is made of compacted ground glass. In the Kitchenstone, the coarseness of the grind is small, like talc, but there are different levels of abrasiveness for other products such as the GrillStone ($6, HomeDepot) and the ToiletStone ($10, Bed Bath & Beyond).
It's hard enough to loosen caked-on dirt, but fine enough not to scratch the original surface (and that surface can be stoneware, ceramic, glass or metal). It also works whether the surface is hot or cold, where chemical cleaners should not be used on hot surfaces.
Cronk had his team test the products and found exactly what I did: They removed stains thought to be permanent. And they did it without chemicals that could interfere with food flavor and aroma, or irritate human skin. One woman who had chemical allergies that prevented her from using industrial strength chemical cleaners was finally about to remove rust stains with one of the stones.
For all its abrasiveness, the stone does wear away, leaving behind a fine sandy residue that easily wipes off with the soft green synthetic pad on one side. Out of habit, I scrubbed harder than I needed to and went through practically an entire stone on my oven (including the burners and control panel—I got a little carried away, but it was so worth it) but with average use, one should last about a month. For a chemical-free, eco-friendly cleaning tool, that is a beautiful thing.
You can purchase a three-pack of KitchenStones for $15.99 on Summit Brands' website. The one-pack is also available for $4.99 at Kroger, Amazon, and later this year at Walmart.com.