Few of us look forward to cleaning our ovens. Yet, we want them clean and shiny, and free of crusted food and grease. This chore doesn’t have to be overwhelming if we perform regular light maintenance and periodic deeper cleanings with the right tools.
It’s an easier task to clean up oven spills on an everyday basis, which prevents them from becoming burnt-on with repeated heating. Usually, you’ll only need hot soapy water, and a cloth, sponge, or plastic pad.
How often you need to deep-clean your oven depends on how often you use it. Generally, you’ll need to do a thorough cleaning every 3 months if your oven is in use every day. If you only bake or cook a couple of times a month, then deep-cleaning it once or twice a year should be enough. However, some of the signs indicating your oven is overdue for a scrub down include:
- Crust or residue on the bottom.
- Splattered grease and grime on the oven door.
- Smoke or an unpleasant smell when the oven heats up.
- Breads, cakes, and other baked goods taste smoky and scorched.
- Food takes longer to cook or isn’t cooking evenly.
According to Debra Johnson, the in-house cleaning expert at Merry Maids, the self-clean function is a useful tool only if your oven is moderately dirty. This is because when you start the self-cleaning process, the oven locks and climbs to temperatures over 900°F. The extreme heat melts grease, grime, and caked-on food, and leaves an ash at the bottom for you to clean up. However, even if you’ve removed the larger food particles before starting, there’s still grease spatters and food spills to burn off. This can lead to excessive smoke and foul odors. As well, these food remnants can self-combust at temperatures between 750° and 815°F and start a fire. So, if it’s been a while since your oven’s last cleaning, it’s better to do the job manually.
Remember to always check your owner’s manual first to be sure any cleaning you perform, whether manually or by using the oven’s self-clean option, conforms to the manufacturer’s instructions.
When using the self-cleaning oven function, here are some suggestions:
- Remove the racks and clean them.
- Run the self-cleaning process for shorter periods of time. Long periods of intense heat can compromise major oven components.
- Stay at home and keep an eye on the process.
- Open your windows and/or turn on an exhaust fan.
- Protect any birds or other pets by removing them to a well-ventilated room away from the oven. Some birds, particularly, are very sensitive to the fumes, which can kill them.
- Hand-clean inside the door edge, covering about 1.5 inches around the oven cavity frame. This area doesn’t get hot enough during the self-cleaning process.
Manually Cleaning Self-Cleaning Ovens
When manually cleaning your self-cleaning oven, don’t use commercial oven cleaners — they will cause etching and discoloration of the liner, and eventually cause the oven to not self-clean properly. Follow these recommended steps:
- Use dish soap and water with a cloth, sponge, or plastic pad for minimal spills or splatters after each oven use.
- For heavier cleaning, use a plastic scouring pad and rub food remains lightly to prevent scratching the oven liner surface. Don’t use scouring powders.
- Household ammonia can also be used. Place 1/2 cup in a shallow glass or pottery container in a cold oven overnight. The ammonia fumes will loosen any burned-on grease or food.
- For stubborn stains, use a non-abrasive cleaner with a sponge or clean cloth. It’s best to use the cleaners recommended in your owner’s manual.
- After hand cleaning, rinse the oven liner thoroughly. Soap residue can cause staining or discoloration the next time the self-cleaning feature is used.
Cleaning a Standard Oven with Chemical Products
- Take everything out of your oven — racks, pizza stone, thermometer, etc.
- Put newspapers or paper towels on the floor in front of the oven.
- Put on gloves and safety glasses. Spray the cleaner on the back, sides, bottom, top, door, corners, and crevices. For electric ovens, lift up the heating elements and spray underneath. For gas ovens, don’t spray where the gas comes through. Close the oven door when you’re done.
- Allow the spray to sit for the time listed on the label. Usually cleaners need about 20 to 30 minutes.
- While the cleaner is working inside the oven, take the oven racks outside, or to a well-ventilated area, and spray them as well. Put them inside a large plastic garbage bag, and close it up tightly. Leave the racks in the bag for the recommended time.
- After the proper waiting time, open the oven, and wipe the surfaces with a damp cloth. If there are stubborn spots, use a microfiber sponge, wet scouring pumice, or other mildly abrasive tool to remove the residue. Make sure to thoroughly wipe every part so there’s no remaining grime or traces of the cleaner.
- Take the racks from the garbage bag and rinse them in the sink with hot, soapy water. Use a sponge, pumice, or other abrasive tool to remove crusted-on food. Dry the racks and put them back into the oven.
Cleaning a Standard Oven with Baking Soda and Vinegar
- Remove all racks, pizza stone, thermometer, etc. from the oven.
- Put newspapers or paper towels on the floor in front of your oven.
- In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Adjust the amounts until you have a spreadable paste.
- Spread the paste around the inside of the oven, including the back, sides, bottom, top, door, corners, and crevices. Use gloves to help get at all the greasy spots to prevent getting grime under your fingernails. In electric ovens lift up the heating elements to coat the surface underneath, and in gas ovens don’t put paste where the gas comes through. Close the oven door when finished.
- Let the baking soda mixture sit for 10 to 12 hours, or overnight.
- Place the racks in the kitchen sink or bathtub if the racks are too large for the sink. Sprinkle on baking soda, and then pour some vinegar on top. This mixture will start foaming. When the foaming stops, fill the sink or tub with hot water until the racks are totally covered. Let them sit for 10-12 hours, or overnight.
- Open the oven when the allotted time is up, and wearing gloves, take a damp cloth and wipe out as much of the baking soda paste as you can. Use a plastic or silicone spatula to help scrape off any paste in those hard-to-reach places. For stubborn sticky spots, use a microfiber sponge, wet scouring pumice, or other mildly abrasive tool.
- Next, put some vinegar in a spray bottle, and spritz any remaining baking soda residue. When the mixture starts foaming, take the damp cloth and wipe out all the foaming areas. Continue spritzing and wiping until all the baking soda residue is gone. When wiping, add as much water or vinegar as needed to get the oven clean and shiny.
- Remove the racks from the water after soaking and use a cloth rag to scrub until they’re clean. For tough spots, use a microfiber sponge or pumice.
- Rinse the racks with water, and completely dry before putting them back into the oven.
When your oven needs repair or maintenance, call the experts at C&W Appliance at (855) 358-1496 or (214) 358-1496 or fill out our on-line service request form.