The holiday season should be filled with warmth, cheer and a general sense of goodwill. But when you open your oven, it can sometimes fill you with horror and a deep sense of shame. If your oven is starting to look like an archaeological dig, it's one sign that it's time to get down to business and clean that grimy buildup.
Other ways your oven is telling you it wants to be cleaned? The smell. If your oven has a curious odor when you fire it up, it means the ghosts of Thanksgiving past and other meals are lingering.
And those lingering smells can affect the taste of your holiday cookies or anything else you decide to cook! Yuck!
Finally, when your oven is angry at you, it starts to smoke. This is a full red alert and means you need to break out your gloves and scrub brush stat!
But not to worry, our overwhelmed holiday revelers. Though nobody likes to clean their oven, it's not half as bad as you think with a few handy hacks. And the rewards are great: a sparkly oven, a sense of pride and cakes that don't taste like giblets.
To help you overcome your sense of dread and lethargy, we've put together an oven cleaning guide that will help you rid it of gucky grime (and fill you with relief).
Here are three ways to clean your oven, along with some constructive tips.
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The "Self-Cleaning" Function
It sounded so good when you bought it. A self-cleaning oven! Sign me up! Unfortunately, this method is only going to work if your oven is only moderately covered in splats.
During the self-cleaning cycle, ovens heat up to extremely high temperatures, which turns old food into ash that you can clean out of the oven later when it cools.
But if you've been avoiding the task for months and your oven is covered in mystery food and grease, the only "self" involved in the cleaning should be you. That's because the built-up grime and grease can cause your oven to smoke or even catch on fire.
If you do decide that you're a candidate for the self-cleaning function, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions, remove all racks and be home during the cycle in case of unexpected mishaps.
Cleaning Your Oven with Baking Soda and Vinegar
Baking soda and vinegar work in a myriad of household cleaning tasks, and that includes whipping your oven back into shape. And unlike commercial oven cleaners with tons of chemicals, this natural method won't produce any toxic fumes.
Here's the step by step breakdown:
1. Remove your oven racks and any other equipment you may have in there, like thermometers, pizza stones, etc.
2. Spread newspaper, paper towels or garbage bags on the floor in front of the oven to catch any drippings or grime. You can also fill any openings in your oven with aluminum foil.
3. Now, make a baking soda paste (made by mixing baking soda and water). Add just enough water to make a thick paste without it being too runny. Hot tip: add 2 to 3 drops of essential oil, like tea tree, if you want the mixture to smell better!
4. Now, you can put on rubber gloves and spread the paste with your fingers or use a clean paintbrush to do it. For any hard to reach spots, a toothbrush comes in handy. Coat the bottom, sides, top and door of your oven with the mixture.
Be sure NOT to coat the heating elements if you have an electric oven. If you have a gas model, avoid covering the area where the gas comes out.
5. Now comes the part where you wait and let the baking soda do its work. We're talking 10 to 12 hours or overnight.
6. While you're waiting, place the oven racks in your kitchen sink or the bathtub.
Quick tip: to avoid scratching your tub, you can first lay down some towels.
7. If your racks are stainless steel, you can sprinkle them with baking soda and then squirt some white vinegar on them with a spray bottle. This mixture will foam up. When it stops foaming, fill the sink or tub with hot water and let them soak 10 to 12 hours or overnight.
Important: If your racks are aluminum, DON'T use the baking soda and vinegar as this can discolor them. In this case, you can add dishwashing soap to the hot water and then let them soak overnight.
8. After the waiting period has passed, use a damp cloth to wipe down all the oven surfaces. If there are still some tough spots, you can use a microfiber sponge or a silicone spatula to loosen them.
If they still refuse to budge, fill a spray bottle with vinegar and mist the stick spots. When the mixture stops foaming, use a sponge or damp cloth to wipe away the grime. Give another pass with a damp cloth, and the inside of your oven is done!
9. Now, you can remove your racks from the water and wipe them down. You can use a brush or sponge to clean any stubborn grime. When you're done, let them dry and put them back in your oven.
10. And you're safe to cook again!
Related: How to Clean a Dirty Dishwasher
Cleaning Your Oven with Lemons
Another natural approach to cleaning your oven is with the power of lemons and steam. This method will work best on a slightly dirty oven. Here's how to do it:
1. Take an oven-proof bowl and fill it with water. Next, cut a lemon in half and place it in the water.
2. Now heat your oven to about 250 degrees.
3. Next, place the bowl with lemon and water inside the oven for about an hour. The steam combined with the acidity of the lemon will help to loosen the grime.
4. After an hour, turn off the oven and open the door allowing it to cool off.
5. While the oven is still slightly warm (but not hot to the touch), use a damp cloth and wipe down all the oven surfaces.
6. For any sticky spots, you can use a sponge or brush to loosen them.
7. Now give the entire inside a thorough wiping with a damp cloth.
8. And you're ready to cook again!
Cleaning Your Oven with Commercial Cleaning Products
Perhaps your oven looks like various meals have exploded in it, and you don't have the patience to use the baking soda and vinegar method. If you don't have objections to store-bought cleaners, this is definitely the quickest method to remove grease and grime.
Just be aware the commercial cleaners contain some very harsh chemicals. For that reason, you'll also need to use some rubber gloves and safety glasses while working with these sprays. You'll also want to be sure your kitchen is well ventilated during the entire process.
And, of course, be sure to follow any directions that come with the spray.
Here's the step by step for this approach:
1. Remove your oven racks and any other equipment you may have in there, such as thermometers, pizza stones, etc.
2. Spread newspaper or garbage bags on the floor in front of the oven to catch any drippings or grime. You can also fill any openings in your oven with aluminum foil.
3. Using your safety glasses, spray the top, bottom, sides and back of the oven with the cleaner. If your oven is electric, DON'T spray the heating elements. If your oven is gas, DON'T use the spray where the gas comes out.
4. Let the spray sit for the amount of time suggested on the label. This will probably be at least 20 to 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, take your oven racks outside and spray them with the cleaner. Then put them in large, plastic garbage bags and close them up. You can leave them in the bags for the time suggested on the label.
6. Once the time is up, wipe down all oven surfaces with a damp cloth. Again, you may need to use a sponge, brush or silicone spatula to remove them for any tough spots. Be sure to give your oven another thorough going over with a damp cloth to remove any remnants of the grime or spray.
7. Now, you can remove your racks from the plastic garbage bags and clean them with hot, soapy water and a sponge or brush. Be sure to read your cleaner's label carefully, as some chemicals can be harmful to enamel surfaces.
A safe bet is to clean them with hot, soapy water from a bucket outside instead of in your sink.
8. Let the racks dry, place them in the oven, and you're ready to cook again!
Cleaning the Glass on Your Oven Door
As we all know, oven glass suffers just as much from grime buildup as other parts of your stove. But because glass can scratch, you'll need to take a more gentle approach when cleaning it.
To clean grease and gunk, you can use the same baking soda and water mix and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. However, when you're ready to clean off the mixture, be sure to use a non-scratch sponge or damp cloth.
If the glass is only slightly dirty, you can clean it with warm water, soap and a soft sponge or cloth.
Once the glass is clean, you can buff it dry with a microfiber cloth and a bit of diluted vinegar, which will help you avoid streaks and give your glass some extra sparkle.
Cleaning the Outside of Your Oven
To keep the top of your oven spic and span, try DIY mix:
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of water
Just scrub the top of your stove with it and wipe it clean.
If you're not into DIY, you can try Bar Keeper's Friend Cooktop Cleaner as a quick way to polish your stovetop. There are no harsh chemicals, and it can be used on glass, ceramic, copper, brass, chrome, stainless steel and porcelain surfaces.
To Clean Your Oven Knobs:
If the knobs on your stove are only moderately dirty, you should be able to clean them with a damp cloth and dish soap.
But if they need extra special attention and you decide to use a commercial cleaner, DON'T spray it directly on the knobs. The liquid could seep through the cracks of your stove and short it out!
Instead, spray the cleaner on a cloth and wipe the knobs off with it. And be sure to give the knobs another pass with just a damp cloth afterward to remove any remnants of the spray.
To Clean Stainless Steel Doors:
It's always nice to give your stainless steel doors a little extra shine. To keep them looking good, you can try Howard's Stainless Steel Cleaner. It's a plant-based formula, so there are no toxic fumes or harsh chemicals.
To Clean Those Pesky Cracks Between the Oven and the Counter:
This method is another sneaky area where grime and food particles can build up if you're not careful. To keep this crevice clean, you can wrap a butter knife in a Clorox Wipe and clean away. No more gross stuff lurking on the side of your stove!
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Keeping Your Oven Clean
Once your oven is clean, you can make your job a lot easier the next time around with a few simple hacks.
1: Put a lid on your casserole dishes. It seems simple, but so often we don't do it. It will prevent your oven from being covered in splats you'll have to scrub later.
2: If you have a dish without a lid, try putting a baking sheet underneath it to catch anything that bubbles over. You can also set a roasting pan covered in aluminum foil on the bottom of your oven to catch any grease drippings.
3: Another handy way to keep your oven clean is with heavy-duty non-stick liners that you can cut to size and put in your oven. They're easy to clean and will save you tons of cleaning time!
4: Another way to prevent buildup is to be sure you're using the right size dish when cooking. If you're cooking a large portion, make sure the container is deep enough to handle it and don't overfill any dish as it can then quickly bubble over.
Less Elbow Grease, More Shine
Well, there you have it, friends. Armed with your newfound knowledge and just a few simple cleaning products, you can now tackle that grimy buildup in your oven with a lot less trepidation.
And with 2021 just days away, having a sparkling clean oven makes an excellent (and doable) New Year's resolution!
Happy New Ovens, everyone!
You might also like: 7 Easy Ways To Clean A Microwave With Items You Already Have At Home
The Best Ways to Clean Your Oven:
- The "Self-Cleaning" Function
- Cleaning Your Oven with Baking Soda and Vinegar
- Cleaning Your Oven with Lemons
- Cleaning Your Oven with Commercial Cleaning Products
- Cleaning the Glass on Your Oven Door
- Cleaning the Outside of Your Oven
- Keeping Your Oven Clean