Columnist Mary Hunt

Mary invites questions at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.

This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually.

Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014.

To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

When it comes to kitchen appliances, nothing says modern and sleek like a beautiful new electric smooth-top ceramic or glass cooktop. While a smooth-top beats a coil element-type cooktop in the style department, it requires a different kind of proactive care to keep it looking good while preventing discoloration and scratching.

WHAT NOT TO DO: With smooth-top cooktops, it’s all about prevention. If you think of your cooktop as a delicate possession that requires your utmost protection, you’ll be way ahead of the game.

CAST-IRON OR STONE COOKWARE: Do not use cast-iron or stone cookware on a smooth-top cooktop or range. It’s tempting, I know, because cast iron works so well on a glass induction cooktop. Just don’t do it. Period. The bottom of these types of cookware can be rough, even gritty, like sandpaper. Any movement on that cooktop can leave permanent scratches.

HEAVY POTS: Do not drag heavy pots across a smooth-top cooktop. Always lift to another area of the cooktop to reduce the risk of scratching. And don’t place anything heavy on a smooth-top cooktop, even for a few minutes.

ABRASIVE CLEANERS: Do not allow abrasive cleansers, Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty sponges (the green ones), scour pads (green) or metal scrubbers of any kind near the cooktop.

SPILLS: Do not allow spills to sit. Clean up any spills and boilovers quickly. When cooking sugary substances, take care not to spill these on a smooth-top cooktop. A sugar substance can discolor the cooktop, leaving yellowish areas that are impossible to remove. Clean up all spills quickly.

USE A STOOL: Do not stand on top of the cooktop to reach something high up.

UTENSILS: Do not place stirring utensils on a warm cooktop while you cook. Food on these utensils can mark or burn the cooktop, leaving a mess that will require a lot of time and effort to clean.

COOLING: Do not place hot bakeware like casserole dishes and cookies sheets on a smooth-top cooktop to cool. Place these items on a heatproof counter or cooling rack.

HOW TO CLEAN: Here’s the rule: If you wouldn’t use it to clean your eyeglasses, don’t use it on your smooth-top. Always reach for a microfiber cloth, blue Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch sponge other soft sponge or cloth and a cream cleaning solution.

COMMERCIAL CREAM CLEANERS: Bar Keepers Friend now makes a cooktop cleaner (about $7 for a 13-ounce bottle) that gets rave reviews from manufacturers and smooth-top owners.

Another highly recommended option is Cerama Bryte Cooktop Cleaner (about $7 for 28 ounces).

SCRAPER: You may need to use a scraper or razor blade to remove really tough, burned-on substances. Please be careful! Using an inappropriate tool or using the right tool incorrectly could add to the misery. The Werxrite RetraGuard Scraper for glass and ceramic stovetops is the right tool. Read the instructions carefully.

HOMEMADE CREAM CLEANERS

Option 1: Make a paste of 50-50 baking soda and Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid. Stir until smooth. Using a nonabrasive soft sponge, work this cream in circles over the entire cooktop. When you’re done, rinse with a wet towel, and follow by polishing the glass surface with a microfiber cloth.

Option 2: For tough spots and any stuck-on food, combine 1 cup water and 1 cup white vinegar in a spray bottle. Add 10 drops of lemon essential oil. Shake well. Once the cooktop has cooled, sprinkle baking soda directly on the tough spots. Spray the baking soda with the vinegar mixture. Wait until the baking soda stops fizzing, and wipe it clean with a very soft cloth or blue Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch sponge (please don’t sneak in a green Scotch Brite, because it will scratch the glass), using the texture of the powder to scour off the grease. This will not scratch the surface. Repeat as needed until you’ve taken care of any tough spots.

WORD TO THE WISE: Always test any product or technique with which you do not have previous experience in an inconspicuous place first. Please.

This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of Debt-Proof Living, a personal finance member website and the author of Debt-Proof Living, Revell 2014.

To find out more about Mary visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.