Around the House: Keep Your Ovens Sparkling Clean

Around the House: Keep Your Ovens Sparkling Clean

By Yehudit Garmaise

While I try not to think about oven-cleaning, except the week before Pesach, the truth is that any oven in which a lot of cooking takes place should really be cleaned at least twice or three times a year.

A sure sign that too much time has passed since you last cleaned your oven, is when your oven starts to create a lot of smoke as it preheats.  

BoroPark24 researched the best, easiest, and even least toxic ways to keep your ovens sparkling clean.

1. Self-clean: Even ovens that can be cleaned automatically need a little elbow grease before and after the high-heat cycle begins. Remove your oven racks, which can get warped and damaged during self-clean mode. Pick up any large pieces of food that may have spilled from pans, and then take a rag or sponge to preliminarily wipe down any spills. 

Before the self-cleaning cycle fires up to as high as 900 degrees, double-check that your oven is locked for safety. While high heat needs no chemicals at all to clean, of course, that same heat is very dangerous. People are advised to stay home when self-cleaning their ovens, so as to keep an eye out for any mishaps.

While your self-clean cycle is working its magic, make sure to keep your children out of the kitchen, which will feel extra warm and will smell odd, as the high heat burns food into a powdery ash. To dispel the smell of burning food items and to cool down the kitchen, turn on your kitchen’s ventilator or fan, and open a window.

Once the hours-long cycle ends, and your oven completely cools down, use a damp towel with a little dish detergent or Ajax to wipe down the remaining ash and any lingering dirt.

2. Scrub down your grates and glass oven door by using an oven-cleaner, warm, sudsy water, and/or a do-it-yourself no-chemical paste made of baking soda and water. But a new package of steel wool scrubbers, and use your elbow grease to get your oven grates and glass door glistening. Rinse the grates, use towels to pat them dry, and slide them back into place.

 3. For ovens that are not self-cleaning, the old-school combination of Easy-Off, rubber gloves, and newspapers on the floor does the trick. 

Open as many windows as possible to release the toxic fumes and reduce the chances that anyone breathes in the harsh chemicals.

Make sure your children are not in the kitchen, and anyone cleaning should use rubber gloves and long sleeves or even a mask and eye protection, as the fumes are quite toxic.

Remove oven racks, and lay them down on newspaper. You can spray the racks before you start scrubbing the inside of your oven, to start to remove the racks’ grime.

Slip paper towels or newspaper in between the oven’s door and the oven and on the floor under the oven to avoid the Easy-Off leaking and seeping on other surfaces.

For a superfast three-minute clean on the inside of your oven, preheat to 95 degrees, and then make sure to turn off the oven before spraying on the Easy-Off.

First direct a generous coating of Easy-Off liquid spray to the back of the oven, followed by side walls, ceiling, floor, and door. 

Close the oven door, and leave the room while the chemicals clean the oven. If the oven was preheated, the Easy-Off can work within three minutes, while the product takes 30 minutes to clean a cold oven. Do not leave the Easy-Off for too long, and never allow it to dry.

4. Use stainless steel wool, an oven brush, and maybe even a new toothbrush for hard-to-reach spots. Scrub your oven’s door first, ceiling, floor, side walls, and back wall. Then use a clean, damp cloth to wipe the inside of your oven clean. Use warm water to thoroughly rinse out any Easy-Off residue.

Take special care that no part of anyone’s skin, hair, eyes, or clothing comes into contact with the spray or the sprayed areas.

Make sure to also completely wipe down any surfaces onto which the cleaning fluid dripped or seeped. To clear the air of harmful fumes, keep windows open and ventilators on for a few hours before cooking and spending extended time in the kitchen.

5. Make a Toxic-Free, Do-it-Yourself cleaning paste for pennies by combining ½ cup of baking soda with some water. Adding two or three drops of essential tea tree oil works as a natural degreaser and adds a pleasant smell. Remove your grates and avoid any bare metal and heating elements. Then, use your homemade paste to generously coat your oven surfaces. Let stand overnight.

While wearing gloves, use a plastic spatula to remove the paste. Wipe away any remaining residue with a clean, wet sponge.

6. Then boil 1/3 of a pot of water. Once it starts boiling, add an equal amount of white vinegar and allow it to boil for another 30 seconds. Then put the steaming pot in the oven and close the door to further loosen, soften, and melt away the grime. 

Allow the pot to sit for 45 to 60 minutes, and then use a soapy stainless steel wool or a sponge with a scrubby side to wipe your oven clean.

7. Maintain a clean oven between self-cleanings by taking a quick peek inside your oven on Sundays after Shabbos clean-ups. Use a napkin to pick up fallen pieces of food, and then use a damp sponge to remove the smaller bits. Use the scrubber side of your sponge with a little water, dish soap, soft soap, or Ajax to banish any leftover spills or messes from the previous week.

8.    Quick Tip #1: For quick wipe-downs during the week, make a toxic-free, natural cleaning solution by mixing equal parts of white vinegar, dish soap, and water in a clean spray bottle. After spraying the inside of the oven, let the mixture sit for a few hours before scrubbing or wiping the inside walls and oven door clean.

9.    Quick Tip #2: When you are busy cooking and serving, and you see that liquid has spilled, sprinkling some salt on the spill will make it easier to scrub away when you get the chance.

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