When you invest in professional-quality kitchen equipment, it looks so substantial and solid that it's easy to think it should keep working indefinitely without much attention. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Even the toughest-looking kitchen gear needs maintenance and TLC, and the efforts will help you protect the value of your investment.
Beyond the manufacturers' user guidelines, you can follow these expert recommendations for maintaining your pro appliances.
Shine, don't scrape, stainless steel
It's ironic, but appliances designed to withstand the rigors of a professional kitchen will suffer if you try to clean them with anything more abrasive than a sponge or stronger than soap and water.
"I really only recommend dishwashing liquid like Dawn to safely clean any surface in the kitchen without harming it," says Clark Turney, manager of The Maids Home Service in Knoxville, Tenn. "If you dilute it right it will also cut grease, and you can buy the antimicrobial version."
Stainless-steel surfaces are particularly deceptive, says Turney: "They look solid, but they're actually quite porous. They will absorb oil in particular, which is why your fingers will leave prints and smears on stainless-steel appliance fronts. Little holes on the surface will also catch and hold anything you use to clean."
Clean cooktop spills sooner rather than later
When upgrading from an electric range to gas burners, you gain serious heat but you lose the ability to pop out the burner coil if you need to clean or inexpensively replace it.
"If you have a gas-fired stove, and you want it to cook safely and at its maximum effective level, you need to keep the burners clean," says Bill Handziuk of Union Gas, a major Canadian natural-gas utility. "Clean spills right away while you can still get them with water or a little soap and water, and check those little holes in the burners that allow the gas to come out to make sure they're not blocked with debris. If they are, use a toothpick or a very tiny brush to pick out the debris so the gas can flow freely again."
Use your oven as designed
Keeping a professional-style oven clean isn't a tall order because most high-quality models are self-cleaning, but other steps are still necessary to keep them at peak performance over the long haul.
If you're tempted to fit an oversize roaster in the oven by removing the racks and placing it directly on the floor, resist. "That's a good way to damage the heating element or the floor itself, which isn't designed to hold that much weight," says Handziuk. "Always cook with at least one rack inside the oven to help support the weight of the pots."
Covering the entire bottom of the oven with foil to catch drips and speed cleanup is also inadvisable. "The foil can block the air circulation, which makes the oven much less efficient over time. It will stop giving you the cooking results you expect."