What is the best way to clean my aga?
The answer divides into two parts:
1. aga ON
WARNING: TAKE CARE WHEN WORKING ON OR
CLEANING A HOT aga!
Cleaning the vitreous enamel top and front:
By far the best advice is to mop up spills as they happen.
This is best achieved with a damp soapy cloth (a touch of Fairy
Liquid on an old flannel or similar is fine) because, for small
spillages or splatter, the cloth softens the deposit as it is
removed (and the thickness of the flannel gives some limited
protection from the heat and retains more moisture than a J-Cloth).
Propriety non-scratch vitreous enamel cleaners or mild
cream cleaners such as Cif work well, but the high temperature
of the aga top makes this quick work! After cleaning, buff the
surface with a dry cloth. If you do not seem to be making progress
with a spill, or it is obviously baked on, do not despair -
see the section below on cleaning a cold aga.
The flue and the vent cover at its base should be treated
the same way as the top and front of the aga and cleaned accordingly.
The chromed lids can be cleaned in the same way. A proprietary
chrome cleaner gives a good final finish. The underside of
the chromed lid is made of pressed aluminium and dents and
scratches easily. It also gets splattered and can look unsightly.
A mild cream cleaner on a nylon scouring pad can improve the
appearance. But see instructions below on cleaning a cold
Do not experiment! Any acid-based cleaner
should be avoided, and fruit juice, milk, vinegar should be
cleaned off immediately because they will permanently mark the
These do not need the traditional form of oven cleaning, because
spills are baked to death and can be brushed out hot or cold
(take great care though to ensure that you dont get burnt).
Deft work with a tapered vacuum cleaner hose is also effective
on cremated remains, providing you do not loiter too long
in the hot oven! The warming oven (bottom left on a 4-door
aga) is cool enough to be cleaned with a damp cloth.
2. aga OFF
When your aga is turned off for servicing, you have an ideal
opportunity to deep clean it. The best advice is
to clean and service it yourself immediately, so that
it is ready to relight when a cold snap reoccurs. The techniques
are rather different to cleaning a hot aga, so read this guidance
carefully. It may sound like refurbishment, and you could reduce
the effort expended. But a properly maintained aga despite
daily use and lots of cooking, animals and children can
be kept looking very new. It just takes discipline and technique.
Use an Allen key to unscrew the bolt on the right hand side
of each lid hinge. Carefully lift the lids (they are heavy)
and the spring assembly and place them safely away from the
work area. Next, lift the circular steel rings away from the
hot plates. These should be wire brushed, lightly oiled with
cooking oil, and placed to one side.
If the lids are hinged on pins, this indicates an older model,
and these pins are hard to remove. You might do better to
clean the lids in situ, rather than trying to remove them.
The hobs must be attended to in a similar way. First, wipe them
clean. Then scrape them with a palette-type knife to remove
any lumps of baked food. A paint scraper is just as good. Then
rub the surface with a mild emery cloth in a circular motion
to clean the surface properly. Vacuum, wipe and dry the surface
and then lightly oil it without getting oil on the insulating
packing around the edge. (If the surface is badly pitted and
obviously corroded see the section below on Restoring
the hob surface)
You now have access to a major area of accrued surface splatter.
Start by cleaning the area with a propriety non scratch cleaner
such as Cif. Baked on areas will gradually soften (you can
lay a damp cloth on them to maintain the damp contact). Try
not to spill water into the insulating packing around the
hob plates. Methodically work your way around the top surface
of the aga. It takes time. You may be tempted to take a knife
or more abrasive approach. DO NOT! The maximum leeway you
should allow yourself is the use of a nylon pad, but with
care because the enamel is softer than it once was. The only
real way is patience and elbow grease. But the results can
The edges of the lids are cleaned up in a similar way. The
chrome lids can be polished and protected by use of chrome
cleaner. As the scratches become painfully clear you will
see why indiscipline with the placement of a pot or lid or
other implement creates lasting damage. Finally, the aluminium
undersides of the lids can be rubbed down with a fine emery
cloth to restore their appearance.
Put the plate rings back. Reattach the lids. Ensure the hob
and ring surfaces are still lightly oiled because this protects
them from rust that can emerge when the lids are left down,
due to poor air flow.
Finally, a few words on a very rare occurrence: SWEEPING
agas, properly set up and maintained, operate at an impressively
high efficiency in the way the oil is burned. There are very
few deposits created, and most flues are left untouched for
years. Most aga service engineers do not try. But, in case you
have had some very sooty experiences, here is what to do: Cover
the cool aga top with a layer of newspaper and then an old rug.
You can sweep the flue yourself using a flue brush (available
from most hardware stores and email order firms) with a very
flexible set of connecting shafts. The technique is to remove
the flue access panel (which can be sited in a variety of ways),
slide the first section of the brush in a short way, place the
vacuum cleaner hose just inside it, and then place (or tie)
another old rug around the flue to trap the soot and dust into
a confined area. Then turn on the vacuum and work the brush
up the flue in short circular movements, adding sections, until
you reach the cowl. Do not knock the cowl off! For an oil fired
aga, there should be very little soot. Slowly withdraw the brush
and clean up. But, before you remove the newspaper, vacuum around
the overheads above the aga. THEN ENSURE
THE FLUE ACCESS IS PROPERLY RESEALED TO ENSURE NO EXHAUST VAPOURS
CAN ENTER THE HOUSE.
How do I restore the hob surface?
If the hob surface is badly pitted, corroded or uneven, this
is usually caused by the hob covers being left down for lengthy
periods with the aga off, when condensation and corrosion can
Removing the central hob for cleaning/replacement or refurbishment
READ THIS IN FULL FIRST! This job
is difficult for one simple reason: the hob is a very large
piece of iron and is very heavy!
Why would you want to remove it? For replacement, to clean around
it, or to refurbish it out of situ. To take it out (obviously
the aga needs to be off and cold) remove the circular plate
rings (they just lift off), prise clear the heat resistant packing
and place it carefully to one side (you may need to buy a bit
more to ensure the seal is re-established on return), expose
the lifting holes on either side of the hob. On older versions
there are no holes but the lip is sufficient. Select a suitable
and strong tool to fit snugly into these holes or under the
lip, and long enough to give you some leverage (say 12-18).
Place newspaper around the top to protect the enamelled surface.
Select two pieces of wood (about an inch square and six inches
long) to act as a pivot for the lifting tool you have selected.
Now, when you lever together with these tools, the hob will
lift clear and level, and you can then jamb it in the half removed
position. TO LIFT IT OUT FULLY, YOU WILL
NEED TO PROTECT YOUR BACK BY EMPLOYING PROPER LIFTING TECHNIQUES.
PUT CRUDELY, YOU MAY NEED TO CLIMB UP ON YOUR aga! Refitting
is the reverse but, remember, one slip and you will damage yourself
or the beautiful enamel surface you have lovingly maintained
Finally, in this section, if your aga is a much older design
which was converted from solid fuel you may have to remove
the barrel to get at the burner, not something for the weak.
The hob surface can be restored reasonably easily in situ by
using grinding paste and an oilstone or suitably shaped flat
piece of steel. But, what ever technique you use, dont
get the paste on the enamel surface!
You will need to purchase the instructions
for further TECHNICAL information and answers to questions like:
How often should I service my aga?
What basic checks should I do first?
What does the Fire Valve do?
Does it matter what sort of oil I use?
Why is it hard to get an aga relit?
Why does the oil flow reduce?
Does it matter how the wick is inserted?
Why does my aga make a popping sound?
What does a yellow flame mean?
How does the Control Valve/ Regulator work?
How do I test for the maximum flow rate?
Can I change the thermometer?
What sort of cowl is necessary at the chimney head?
How do I get spare parts?