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Your oven is the place where gooey cheese, bubbling sauce, and steak drippings go to die. So, when it comes to cleaning up kitchen messes, the inside of the oven is probably the one people dread the most. If you’ve been following along with our Spring Clean Your Life series, you may have seen that experts recommend cleaning your oven at least twice a year. Not sure how to even begin? We're here to help.
Let's start with the good news: Most modern appliances actually now come with self-cleaning options, which we’ll discuss in detail below, but even if you're dealing with a dinosaur, there are plenty of oven-cleaning products available to help you along, as well as some DIY solutions for a more eco-friendly spin on things.
So, which option is best for you? Roll up your sleeves because we are about to break down the pros and cons of each method to help you find the most efficient, convenient, and stress-free strategy for keeping your oven looking spotless. Let's do this!
This is one technological innovation that doesn't get its due, but is basically a modern-day miracle. Turn on your oven to the self-cleaning cycle, and it will heat up to an otherwise unusable temperature, somewhere around 900°F or more. What happens then? The extreme heat incinerates any food remnants inside your oven without you having to lift a finger! I told you, it's a miracle!
This process can take a couple of hours, and if you're worried about safety, it's really not an issue because your oven will be locked for the duration of the cleaning process. Once it's all-clear, all you have to do is clean out the ash that remains of what was once pie crust, gooey cheese, and bubbling sauce.
Sadly, there is a but. While this time-saving option might seem like a no-brainer, there are actually a few things to watch out for with self-cleaning ovens.
If you been self-cleaning your oven for years and have never had any problems, don't let me stop you! But it's important to be mindful of these problem areas before using the self-cleaning feature.
There's more where that came from. Some appliances come with a second self-cleaning option: steam-cleaning. If the prospect of heating your oven to almost 1,000 degrees scares you, this cleaning method might be more your speed (and temperature).
According to Appliances Connection, while both the steam-clean and self-clean options use heat, the main difference is that "a steam clean adds water to create steam and soften the residue in the oven cavity." But it warns that while a steam clean is faster, "it can't really handle a lot of grease and food remains. The best time to use the steam clean is after minor food spills."
If your oven has a steam cleaning feature, it will usually take less than an hour to complete and only heat up to a temperature of around 250°F. This means there will be no smoke or smell, and it will also use less energy than a traditional self-cleaning cycle.
Bummed that your oven doesn’t have a steam clean option? Don’t be! It couldn’t be easier to DIY a steam clean:
Are you one of those that just enjoys doing it all yourself? It’s quick and easy to whip up a “green” DIY oven-cleaning solution, according to Leslie Reichert, the Green Cleaning Coach.
All you need for a DIY oven cleaner is 1 cup of baking soda and 2 cups of vinegar in a spray bottle.
“Sprinkle the base of the oven with the baking soda,” Reichert explains. “Spray the vinegar over the baking soda to make a light foam. Let the foam sit for as long as you can. Keep spraying the baking soda to keep it moist.”
“For the side of the oven, mix some baking soda with water to make a thick paste and spread it on the sides of the oven,” she says. “Spray the paste with vinegar and leave it to sit for as long as you can. Wipe off the excess paste and then rinse with hot water.”
Grime will be much easier to wipe away after this treatment. However, Reichert notes that you don’t want to use this method of cleaning if you plan to also use your oven’s self-cleaning feature, as it can potentially damage the oven’s special coating.
There are several other combinations of pantry staples, or ingredients lying around your home, for DIY-ing your oven grime away. Try and test your own combinations.
If you prefer to simply buy a commercial oven cleaner from the store (hey, we're not judging), there are a few top-rated products homeowners swear by, including brands like Easy-Off and Green Gobbler Orange Oil.
Just remember, though, that whether you're using a commercial product or making a DIY solution to clean your oven, you'll need to do it more frequently than if you're using the self-cleaning option. And in general, try to wipe down the oven at least once a month to prevent tough food buildup and keep scrubbing to a minimum!