Squeaky-clean cooking, here I come.

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We ask a lot of our ovens. Bake 5 dozen cookies for the school bake sale. Roast chicken for the entire family on a busy weeknight. Show up for us on Thanksgiving for practically 48 hours straight. For all we put them through, our ovens ask little in return. Compared to my countertops that get wiped down multiple times daily, my oven gets very little love. I realized this when I opened the oven door this week to find last week’s casserole cheese mingling with the remains of a rouge asparagus that managed to jump off the pan at some point.

To be honest, I’ve really put this one off. Cleaning up such a baked-on mess feels daunting. To ease myself into it (and maybe you too), I pulled together a pre-cleaning list of questions and tricks to pep me up for the task. Ready to get cleaning this weekend? From how to clean oven racks to the right way to clean your oven door, here’s what I’m taking into consideration before rolling up my sleeves.  

How Often Should I Clean My Oven?

While it depends on how frequently you use your oven, most of us should really clean our ovens every few months. That may sound a bit frequent for those of us used to seeing last year’s Thanksgiving turkey drippings hanging around through spring, but it’s important. Build up not only makes ovens less efficient at reaching the correct temperature, but it can also impact taste. Plus, if oven cleaning becomes a regular part of our routine, it shouldn’t be quite so overwhelming each time.   

Does the Self-Cleaning Function Work?

Sure, some friends might tell you that using an oven’s self-cleaning function isn’t worth the smell, but there’s a reason this setting is built in. After you wipe down any loose bits of food and remove your racks, this cycle takes your oven to a high enough temperature to burn off food and grease. If you don’t do it regularly, you can expect all of that burning build-up to give off a bit of a smell. If it’s been a while, consider giving the inside a good clean with baking soda and water first. Next time you can add self-cleaning into your regular routine without a year’s worth of gunk to burn.  

Can I Clean My Oven With Baking Soda?

You can skip the chemicals and make your own oven cleaner by mixing baking soda and water. As Jessica Samson, the spokesperson for The Maids told Real Simple, “The baking soda acts as an abrasive and the water softens baked-on crud and loosens food particles.” To do it yourself, coat the inside of your oven with a paste made from 3 parts baking soda and 1 part warm water. Let it sit overnight, scrub off the paste with a non-abrasive pad, and wipe down with a damp cloth.

What Extra Tools Can Help?

Don’t want to scrub? Can’t blame you. Grab a power tool instead. With the right cleaning attachments you can turn your drill into a cleaning lifesaver. Don’t want to mix your own cleaning paste at home? That’s what they invented oven cleaner for in the first place. There’s a reason Amazon shoppers can’t give Easy-Off Professional Fume Free Max Oven Cleaner, a $5 bottle, enough 5-star reviews.

How Do You Clean Oven Racks?

Your oven racks need special treatment. Always take them out of the oven (especially if you’re using the self-cleaning function) and leave them to soak in dishwashing liquid for several hours to loosen up grease. Scrub with a pad, rinse, and dry.

How Do You Clean an Oven Door?

That greasy glass window you’ve been struggling to see through for the past month might be the ultimate cleaning finale. You can use the same baking soda and water paste as the rest of the inside of your oven but be gentle. Glass is more susceptible to scratches from scrubbing. Alternatively, you can use a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water.

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What About the Knobs?

Just because they’re on the outside of your oven doesn’t mean their immune to grease. To clean, remove your knobs and soak them in white vinegar for 5 minutes. Clean the stove where the knobs normally sit with a water and vinegar mix. Rinse the knobs under water and dry before putting them back on. Pro tip: If you’re one to wonder if your oven is off while vacationing, be sure to take a picture of your knobs before leaving. It’s sure to set your mind at ease.

Now that your oven is clean, maybe it’s time to move onto the dishwasher next.

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