Ease-of-cleaning is a big reason electric radiant smoothtop ranges and cooktops have become so popular. (Exceptional cooking performance with many models in Consumer Reports' tests is another.) While a smoothtop range is definitely easier to wipe down than gas or electric coil ranges, thanks to the absence of any grease and grime-collecting crevices, the glass ceramic surface is vulnerable to scratching and cracking. Here’s how to preserve the mirror finish on a smoothtop range in three easy steps. 

Step 1: Tackle Spills Quickly

The longer spills sit on the surface, the more damage they can potentially cause. That’s especially true for sugar-based foods, such as chocolate or tomato sauce, since their molecules can bond to the glass as they cool, marring the top layer.

Wipe wet spills with a sponge or paper towel. Stay away from scouring sponges, which can scratch the surface. Remove heavy, burned-on residue with a razor blade or a glass scraper made for this purpose. Hold the blade at a 45-degree angle to avoid scratching the smoothtop. The surface will probably still be hot (long-lasting residual heat is one downside of a smoothtop range) so wear an oven mitt to avoid burns. 

Step 2: Polish Periodically

To maintain your cooktop’s shine, clean it now and then with a specially formulated cooktop cleaner. The fine abrasives in these cleaners will polish glass-ceramic pores better than plain soap and water. We tested several of the products, including the well priced Cerama Bryte or Cooktop Magic, and found that most are excellent at cleaning smudges and spills.

Step 3: Be Careful With Cookware

Dragging heavy pots and pans across glass ceramic can cause nasty scratches. That’s particularly true for pots made of aluminum, copper, or other soft metal, which can leave behind deposits. Whatever the material, it’s best to lift and move cookware across a smoothtop range, rather than dragging it. And always clean the bottoms of your pots and pans thoroughly, to prevent food bits from scratching the surface.              

One final tip: Trade in plastic spatulas and other cooking utensils for ones made of metal or wood. Plastic can melt onto a smoothtop’s surface, leading to potentially serious pitting. Once that happens, you’ll probably have to replace the entire glass ceramic panel.