You should always follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and maintenance, but there are some general guidelines for range cleaning. Try to wipe up spills, carefully, before they have time to burn into the range. Alternatively, if you are cooking something you think may overflow, it may be a good idea to lay down aluminum foil which, if spilled on, can be thrown away. Just be careful not to block any vents. However, no matter how clean a cook you are, there will come a time when preventative care is not enough, and cleaning is necessary. Before you begin to clean your range, you'll have to identify which of the three main types of range you have.
Self-cleaning ranges can be set to clean themselves. This is done by super-heating the range for several hours, turning any spilled food products into a fine layer of ash. This process can produce smoke or fumes, so it's recommended that you keep the room well ventilated by opening a window. Remember to remove the plastic dials (if your range has them) before turning on the cleaning cycle, as the extreme heat has been known to warp them. Once the self-cleaning cycle is over and the range has had time to cool, you can wipe away the ash with a damp cloth. For any particularly resilient stains, you may need to apply a gentle abrasive and a little scrubbing. Once the inside is clean, you can wash the outside with a common household cleaner.
Continuous cleaning ranges have a textured porcelain lining along the inside that slowly burns off any spilled food. All that needs to be done is to routinely wipe the inside with a damp cloth to remove any debris. Be careful not to damage the special lining by using any abrasive cleaners.
For more traditional ranges, prevention is still the best option for cleaning and maintenance. Any time you spill, wipe up the spills with a warm, damp cloth. When it comes time for a serious cleaning, start by wiping up what you can with a gentle abrasive and a damp wet cloth. You will need an range cleaner or a scouring pad for tougher stains. If you do choose to use an range cleaner, make sure the room is well ventilated, as the fumes can be harmful. As an alternative to range cleaner, baking soda can be used as a gentle abrasive or to soak up grease spills without the use of harsh chemicals.