Cleaning Your Oven

A guide to the procedure of cleaning various kinds of ovens: continuous cleaning, self-cleaning, microwaves, and traditional ovens.

Your grandmother, equipped with only a homemade cleanser, a few rags and elbow grease, probably spent all day on the job of cleaning her oven. Nowadays, cleaning all kinds of ovens is easier thanks to the variety of self-cleaning and continuous cleaning ovens, easy-to-clean microwaves, and a wide selection of effective oven cleaners. Of course, part of the trick to keeping your oven clean is maintenance, which means preventing spills and taking care of them before they become cooked onto oven surfaces.

Wiping out the oven daily after use can save you the tough scrubbing involved in monthly cleaning. One tip is to cover spills with a little salt so they will come right off after cooking. If you are cooking something that you think might overflow (and if you can't divide the mixture into two separate pans) cover the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil and make sure that it doesn't touch the electric coils.

No matter how careful you are about preventing spills, every oven needs a good cleaning on a regular basis. Continuous cleaning ovens just need an occasional wiping down with a rag soaked in dish soap and warm water. The continuous cleaning ovens prevent spills from clinging onto their surfaces and are the easiest ovens to maintain.



Self-cleaning ovens are also user friendly, but don't let the name fool you; there is some time and effort required in making sure they are clean. To clean a "self-cleaning" oven, take out the wire oven racks and soak them in warm, soapy water. Every self-cleaning oven has its own set of instructions, but the basic procedure is to set the timer to cleaning mode and the oven will do the job in 2-6 hours. There will be smoke and fumes, so open the window to give your home proper ventilation. After the oven has cooled down from the cleaning process, wipe the insides clean with a damp, soapy cloth and dry. There will be a grey, ashy residue on the sides and on the bottom of the oven. Clean inside the door of the oven and don't forget the seal surrounding the door. Rinse the gasket with a sponge, the exterior of the oven with a kitchen cleanser, and the window of the oven with glass cleaner. Some bird owners have reported bird deaths after using self-cleaning ovens, even when the birds were not in the same room as the oven. Although the effects of self-cleaning oven fumes on birds have yet to be tested, if you are a concerned pet owner, ask your veterinarian before using cleaning mode on self-cleaning ovens.

If you have a conventional oven, the job isn't quite as easy, but powerful cleansers make the job less of a headache than it was for your grandmother. To protect your skin, use rubber gloves and make sure the room is well-ventilated. Some cleansers work overnight, and some can be scrubbed off after 15 minutes, so read the instructions on the can or the bottle of your oven cleaner. Take out the oven racks and soak them in soapy water. For optimal results, heat the oven to 200 degrees before using the spray. Warming the oven loosens debris and aids the cleaning process. While the oven is pre-heating, cover the floor and surfaces with newspaper to absorb splashes of black liquid. Turn off oven and spray the inside surfaces, but avoid the heating elements and places where scrubbing is difficult. Let the cleaner work for the required period of time. Cover your hands with rubber gloves and scrub with an oven pad or sponge. For stubborn spots, use a plastic scraper; do not use a metal scraper or it will make scratches in the surface of the oven. Rinse out the pad or sponge with every wiping motion. Make sure that the oven cleaner is rinsed off well and completely removed from the oven. Dry the insides with another rag. Use a wool pad, if necessary, to get residue off of the oven racks. Dry the racks well and replace. Clean the oven door and the surfaces with kitchen cleaner and the oven window with glass cleaner.

If, for some reason, you would rather not use a commercial oven cleaner, you can use ammonia for comparable results. Remove oven racks and pre-heat the oven. Place a half a cup of ammonia at the bottom of the oven and let it sit overnight. In the morning, you can begin scrubbing your oven. Ammonia should only be used to clean electric ovens. For mild but effective cleaning, use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar.

With the microwave convenient cooking revolution came convenient cleaning. All you need to do to clean a microwave oven is a damp, soapy cloth. The glass should be cleaned with glass cleaner and for the buttons, use antibacterial spray.

Whichever oven you need to clean, remember that cooking in a clean oven means healthier and tastier food.

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