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Your One-Stop Guide to Cleaning the Oven

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Welcome to Spring Clean Your Life, your one-stop shop for gotta-try-those tips & bookmark-me inspiration to spruce up your kitchen and home this season—and well beyond.

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. When it comes to cleaning this essential appliance, you actually have quite a few options on how to get the job done.

Most modern appliances have self-cleaning options, which we’ll discuss in detail below, but beyond that, there are numerous oven-cleaning products available, as well as DIY solutions for a more eco-friendly technique.

Which option is best for you? Roll up your sleeves: We’ll break down the pros and cons of each method to help you find the most efficient, convenient strategy for keeping your oven looking spotless. Let's do this!

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All About Self-Cleaning Ovens

The vast majority of today's ovens include a self-cleaning feature. When you turn on the self-cleaning cycle, your oven will heat up to an extremely high temperature, generally around 900 degrees Fahrenheit or more. What happens then? The extreme heat incinerates any food remnants inside your oven without you having to lift a finger! Sounds like a dream, right?

This process can take a couple of hours, and your oven will be locked for the duration of the cleaning process for your safety. Once the cycle is finished, all you have to do is wipe the leftover ash out of the bottom of the oven.

While this time-saving option may seem like a no-brainer, there are actually a few downsides to self-cleaning ovens:

  • Check your oven manufacturer's user manual, but chances are likely you will need to remove the racks first.
  • If you plan to use the self-cleaning feature, avoid using any type of commercial oven cleaner inside the appliance.
  • The self-cleaning feature often results in a strong odor as food burns off.
  • The appliance will naturally get very hot during the process, so you'll need to keep kids and pets away from it.
  • Because the oven reaches such a high temperature when self cleaning, the appliance can’t always dissipate the heat, and many people have problems with blown fuses or burnt-out control panels as a result.

If you been self-cleaning your oven for years and have never had any problems, keep on doing your thing! However, these potential consequences do deter many homeowners from using the self-cleaning feature.

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Steam-Cleaning Ovens

Here’s the good news, though. Some appliances come with a second self-cleaning option: steam-cleaning. If the prospect of heating your oven to almost 1,000 degrees doesn't appeal to you, this cleaning method may be more your speed (and temperature).

According to the Allen & Petersen Cooking & Appliance Center, the steam-cleaning feature uses a combination of heat and water to fill the oven cavity with steam. This loosens up food residue on the sides and bottom, allowing you to more easily wipe down the appliance. While it's not totally hands-off, it's certainly easier than scrubbing off baked-on food.

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 degrees Fahrenheit. This means there won't be any smoke or smell, and it will also use less energy than a traditional self-cleaning cycle.

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DIY Steam Cleaning

Bummed that your oven doesn’t have a steam clean option? Don’t be! It couldn’t be easier to replicate this feature on your own.

For a DIY steam clean, simply place an oven-safe pot or pan filled with water into your appliance. Turn the oven on to 250 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Then, just wipe grime away and call it a day.

DIY Oven-Cleaning Solutions

Want to take the job into your own hands? 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 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 sit 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 use your oven’s self-cleaning feature, as it can potentially damage the oven’s special coating.

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Top-Rated Commercial Oven-Cleaners

If you prefer to simply buy a commercial oven cleaner from the store, there are a few top-rated products homeowners swear by, including brands like Easy-Off and Astonish Oven & Cookware Cleaner.

If you're going to be using a commercial product or DIY solution to clean your oven, you'll probably need to do it more frequently than if you're using a self-cleaning option. Try to wipe down the oven at least once a month to prevent tough food buildup and keep scrubbing to a minimum!

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How often do you clean your oven? Tell us; we won't judge!

Tags: Tips & Techniques, Spring Clean Your Life