Family baking cookies with their kitchen range

Ranges are the workhorses of most kitchens, which means they can end up taking a beating: Boil-overs, spills, and clanging cookware can all wreak havoc on them. (Same goes for cooktops and wall ovens.)

About 25 percent of all ranges will develop problems or break within the first five years, according to estimates from our 2018 survey of CR members, which leveraged data on more than 43,000 ranges purchased new from 2008 to 2018.

More on Ranges & Reliability

While these repairs are rarely costly enough to justify replacing your range—only 2 percent of the ranges from our survey had to be replaced due to reliability issues—the way you use it and care for it can extend its life and save you money. 

Of course, the single best way to get a long life out of these cooking appliances is to buy smart in the first place.

Our Overall Scores for rangescooktops, and wall ovens integrate ratings for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction with a model's performance in the lab. And our buying guides for rangescooktops, and wall ovens tell you everything you need to know about specific types, sizes, and features.

Here, we've compiled our best tips to keep your cooking appliances working for years.

1. Clean up cooktop spills. Get after spills as soon as you’re finished cooking and the cooktop has cooled. “Burned-on spills become harder to remove, and sugary spills can damage a glass smoothtop surface,” says Tara Casaregola, who runs CR’s range test lab. On a gas range, spills can clog ignition parts, preventing burners from lighting properly. Remove the electric coils or, on gas ranges, the grates and burner caps. Then wipe away the bulk of the spill with paper towels, and sponge off the rest with warm, soapy water. You can wash removable parts of gas burners in the sink with soapy water, then rinse and dry them.

Electric coils should be cleaned with a damp cloth—Casaregola says not to rinse them in water. For smoothtops, use a liquid cooktop cleaner and paper towels or a ceramic cooktop cleaning pad, then buff out the residue with a clean towel.

Which brand tops our reliability chart? Check out the winners and losers in CR's latest Appliance Brand Reliability Rankings.

2. Keep your smoothtop smooth. Remember that your cooktop is made of glass, so to avoid scratching or cracking it, don’t fling cookware around like you’re the Swedish Chef. Use flat-bottomed pots and pans only, and lift and place them rather than sliding or plunking them down.

3. Clean your control panel—carefully. Dampen a lint-free rag with warm water and dish soap, then wipe it down. Avoid spraying the control panel directly or soaking it with water, either of which can fry the sensitive electronics inside the panel if water slips past the seal.

4. Clean your oven—frequently. If your oven has a short speed-cleaning cycle, use it often to avoid the need for longer, more involved self-cleaning cycles. You’ll need to wipe away spills with a sponge, but the cycle will loosen them without the need for oven cleaner.

5. Use the oven’s self-clean cycle. Remove everything from your oven, including the racks, which can warp in the extreme heat—up to 850° F—generated during the cycle. Turn on the range hood, crack open kitchen windows, and allow the cycle to run completely, about 2 to 6 hours. Once the oven cools, wipe away any residue with a sponge and warm water. Self-cleaning regularly may curb the temptation to line the oven with foil to catch spill-overs. “Foil is a big no-no,” Casaregola says. “It can melt in place, and you’ll never get it off.”

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the August 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.