How to Clean Your Oven
You know it needs a good scrub.
Most of us give our stove and counters a daily wipe down, but no shame in admitting that most of us tend to forget about regularly cleaning our ovens. But before it starts smoking, you should give it a cleaning, to get rid of weeks, months or even years of caked-on food drips, spatters and grease. So how do you even go about cleaning it, especially after periods of abject neglect?
If you have a newer model of oven — or if you're just lucky — your oven already comes with a self-cleaning option. If that’s the case, all you really need to do is press a button, and maybe give it a bit of a light scrub afterwards, to collect the dissolved food particles that are left behind. Since the oven locks during self-cleaning, and needs to run for hours, just know you won’t be able to use it during this time, so plan to do it when you wouldn’t normally be cooking. It can also be smelly, so it’s best to not be in the kitchen while it’s working. It’s also best not to go this route if your oven is seriously dirty. Since the self-cleaning method means taking the oven to really high temperatures in order to loosen and melt whatever is inside, excess grime may cause your oven to smoke, or could even start a fire.
If your oven does not have a self-cleaning function, or it’s too dirty to make one feasible, the best cleaning method is a classic DIY. If you go that route, you can go with a homemade version or a commercial oven cleaner. Store-bought oven cleaners can be caustic, so you should take every precaution necessary to keep it off your bare skin and eyes, and away from children and pets. It’s wise to ventilate the room by opening a window or door, and you should wear heavy duty rubber gloves and even safety glasses if you have a pair. Remove everything from your oven first, including racks (you’ll want to clean those separately) and thermometers, and lay paper towels or newspaper under your oven to catch any drips. Cover every surface, nook and cranny of your oven with the cleanser, and let it sit for the time indicated on the bottle. Afterwards, use damp clothes to wipe up the loosened drips, or abrasive sponges or scouring pads for really stubborn grease.
For a greener approach that uses things you likely have on hand, you can always elect to take an all-natural, DIY approach. Baking soda can be mixed with just enough water to form a paste, spread all over your oven surfaces, and allowed to sit overnight before being rubbed off with a damp cloth. As for the racks, you can also set them in the bathtub, sprinkle them with baking soda, pour white vinegar over the top, fill the plugged tub with hot water, and let them sit overnight as well before scrubbing. Lemons are another go-to tool. Cut a few in half, squeeze them into a baking dish and set the skins in the dish as well. Fill the dish about 1/3 of the way up with water, then let it sit in the oven at 250 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Hopefully, your yucky oven build-up will have loosened enough to be easily wiped away.
So next time you’re tending your stove, consider giving your oven a bit of scrubbing love. The more you can make yourself do it, the simpler the big job will be!