How to Clean Your Oven

Clean your oven with natural products and a little elbow grease.

During this working from home lockdown, like many of you, I've been cleaning out closets, drawers, and storage spaces but one thing I've put off is my oven. Because it was so gross, it literally took a pandemic to finally tackle this job. To give you a good mental picture of the shape of my oven (sorry), there was bubbled-up burned food all over the bottom and sticky, dried-on brown residue on the walls and door. YUCK! Because we always use the top oven, it was the worst. Our double oven is old but has a self-cleaning feature which uses very high heat for a prolonged period of time (around 3-4 hours) and produces a horrid odor. With the shape my oven was in, I'm sure that smell would run us out of the house! Since my fingernails are already shot, I decided to clean it myself. I wanted to try some natural cleaning products that I had on hand, blue Dawn Dish Soap, Distilled White Vinegar, and Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda. Here are the steps to a cleaner, blemish-free, and healthier oven…

Clean Oven Racks in Open Oven
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1. Brush Away the Ash

First, I swept out the ashy gunk from the bottom of the oven. You could use a hand-vac, but I opted for an old paint brush and swept the ash directly onto a paper plate.

2. Make a Steam Bath

I thought the easiest way to loosen this grime would be to give it a good steam bath. Fill an oven-safe bowl or metal pan with water and add 1 cup of white vinegar. Heat in a 350-degree oven for 60 minutes. I thought the baked-on crud would wipe right out with this step. HA! However, this could be the last step you'll need to clean your oven if you do it on a regular basis instead of every 7 years, like me.

3. Create a Baking Soda Mask

Spread a thick paste of baking soda mixed with a little water all over the walls, oven floor, and door with a spatula or ye old paint brush. Preferably, let this sit overnight to loosen up the baked-on grease. Make sure not to turn on the oven or you'll wind up with baked-on baking soda, too.

4. Spritz with Vinegar

Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray all over the baking soda. This creates a foaming reaction when the two are mixed together to melt away that oven grime.

5. Scrub, Scrub, Scrub

Again, I thought that I could wipe this grunge up with a with a wet sponge but not with my hot mess of an oven. So, I pulled out a Scotch-Brite Stainless Steel Scrubbing Pad that I had on hand. Since they work great on stainless steel pots and pans, I thought I'd try them with this project. It was a messy job but along with a little elbow grease, my oven is now sparkling clean. Note: since these scrubbing pads can scratch, you may want to test in an inconspicuous place, first.

6. Don’t Forget the Racks

While the baking soda mask is doing its thing overnight, go ahead and soak the oven racks in a hot bath at the same time. Fill the tub with hot water and some blue dawn dish soap. Next morning, wipe them down or if you need a little help, use a stainless steel scrubbie and the baking soda paste.

Phyllis Diller

"Housework can't kill you, but why take a chance?"

— Phyllis Diller

I'm setting a calendar invite for one year from now as a reminder to clean the oven. Maybe just a bowl of vinegar will do the trick next year! Stay safe and happy cleaning, y'all!

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