How to Clean your Oven

The oven is one of the most important pieces of kitchen equipment. Depending on how much you cook, you might use it several times a week. But how often do you clean it? Although there are preventative measures you can take against dirtying your oven like placing aluminum foil in the bottom or always using a cookie sheet when baking a casserole, you will still need to clean it every so often. Most newer models come with a self-cleaning function. This method is probably best used for when an oven is moderately dirty as during the cleaning process, the oven will heat up to 500-900 degrees, incinerating any build-up to ash. The oven door locks during this 2-4 hour process as a safety precaution but once the oven has cooled down again, you can open the door and easily wipe away the ash and grime inside. Because the self-cleaning function reaches such high temperatures, many experts dissuade customers from using it if there is a lot of build-up or if a large spill has occurred inside the oven during cooking as the mess could result in smoke during the self-cleaning process.

If the idea of super high temperatures makes you nervous or you only want to give your oven a wipe-down using a more natural approach, there are two good options: lemons or baking soda and vinegar.

Cleaning your Oven with Lemons

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Fill an oven proof bowl with water. Cut two lemons in half and add the halves to the water.
  3. Once the oven has heated, place the bowl inside the oven on a rack and leave for one hour.
  4. Turn off the oven, open the oven door, and let things cool down.
  5. When the oven is warm but safe enough to touch, put on rubber gloves and wipe down all surfaces with a damp cloth. For extra stubborn areas, use a microfiber sponge or something similarly abrasive.

Cleaning your Oven with Baking Soda and Vinegar

  1. Empty your oven of racks, thermometers, etc. and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, mix together 1/2 cup baking soda and a few tablespoons of water. Adjust the ratio as needed until you have a spreadable paste.
  3. Spread the paste all over the interior of the oven with the exception of the heating elements. The baking soda will start to turn a brownish color as it is rubbed in. Pay extra attention to particularly greasy areas.
  4. Let the mix sit in the oven for at least 12 hours or overnight. During this time, you can wash the oven racks and other things you took out of the oven in the beginning.
  5. After letting the paste sit, use a damp rag or towel to wipe away as much of the dried paste as possible.
  6. Add a bit of vinegar and water to a spray bottle and spray the areas that still have baking soda residue. This will cause those areas to foam slightly.
  7. Take a damp towel and again wipe out any remaining mixture. Repeat until all the baking soda residue is gone. Add more water or vinegar as needed.
  8. Replace the oven racks thermometer, and other items you initially took out.

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