Don’t Put off This Chore: Learn How to Clean Your Oven

Do You Smell Something Burning Every Time You Turn on Your Oven?

No appliance is as important to a home kitchen as an oven. Unfortunately, most people shirk the important chore of oven cleaning because, like grout cleaning, it's very time-consuming and laborious. However, a dirty oven can actually be detrimental to your cooking. Grimy oven walls reflect heat unevenly, cooking your food less efficiently than a clean oven would. If you make the task part of your regular kitchen cleaning routine, it will become habitual and get easier over time.

How to Clean an Oven

If you have no experience and you're wondering how to clean an oven, you'll first need to make your way through an endless web of oven cleaners and make some choices. Some products are foams or sprays that demand a bit of elbow grease while others work overnight and simply wipe clean in the morning. Some products also call for the oven to be heated through in order to penetrate caked-on food residue thoroughly.

Organic oven cleaners are less harsh on your eyes and nose, and they're also better for the environment. Brands like Restore are made with plant-based solvents and citric acid rather than strong chemicals. Keep in mind, though, that organic cleaners may still irritate sensitive skin.

As with home pet odor removal, you can also use old-fashioned baking soda to clean your oven. Sprinkle a thick layer on the bottom of your (cool) oven and spray it with water until it's moist but not saturated. Keep moistening the soda every hour or so, but don't allow it to dry out. After a few hours, scrape the soda (and the food it's absorbed) out of the oven, then rinse with a clean, wet washcloth.

Self-Cleaning Ovens

If you own a self-cleaning oven, your process is as simple as turning a knob and relaxing for a few hours while it "does its thing." Basically, self-cleaning ovens heat their interiors to around 900 degrees, effectively burning all caked-on food bits to powdery ash, which is easily swept up at the end of the cycle. The door will stay locked throughout the cleaning process to prevent injuries, but there may be smoke as the baked-on food burns up.

Oven Cleaning Tips

  • Let the oven heat to about 200 degrees, then cool slightly before you start cleaning. The heat will give your cleaner a boost.
  • Remove your racks and soak them in hot, soapy water while the interior of the oven is being cleaned.
  • To prevent baked-on spills in the first place, line the bottom of your oven (under the heating coils) with heavy-duty tin foil. Replace as needed.
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