Spring cleaning is upon us and no single appliance can be more intimidating to clean than a conventional oven. So many questions arise. (Is it okay to soak water all over this electrical appliance? Will it sterilize better pre-heated at 450°?) To avoid accidentally electrocuting or burning yourself, follow these quick and easy tips to properly clean your oven this spring.
TIP #1: DITCH THE SELF-CLEANING FEATURE
With so many chores around the house, we don’t blame you for being tempted by the oven’s self-cleaning feature. However, know that this feature is not as efficient as you might expect. In fact, it could make your oven break down.
When an oven self cleans, it can get up to 1,000° Fahrenheit—twice as hot as the 350-500° range it was built to handle. This extreme heat can cause fuses to blow and control panels to short circuit. In addition, depending on the manufacturer, a self-clean cycle may also accelerate the failure of the door latch motor or solenoid. If either of these parts go bad, your oven door could remain locked when you try to open it after a self-cleaning.
True, none of the above is likely to happen the first time you self-clean the oven. But if you take spring as a cue to run the self-clean cycle more often than you do the rest of the year, your oven has an increased risk of breaking. Fear not, though: once you realize how easy it is to clean an oven by hand, you will understand why this feature is not worth the trouble.
TIP #2: CLEAN THE OVEN LIKE A PRO
Cleaning the oven is as straightforward as cleaning any other appliance. Start by taking out the oven racks and soaking them in non-abrasive liquid cleaner in the kitchen sink. Then, preheat the oven to 200° F. Once it reaches this temperature, turn it off and then spray oven cleaner around the inside (more on oven cleaners below). Close the door and allow the cleaner to soak inside for ten minutes.
After waiting, use a sponge to wipe down the dirt and cleaner from the oven’s inside. Remember to rinse the sponge frequently with warm water—if your oven is dirty enough, chances are you could end up smearing the same grime around. After drying the inside with a cloth, scrub the racks in the sink with a sponge, use a soft cloth to dry them as well, and then place them back in the oven.
TIP #3: MAKE DIY OVEN CLEANER
Now that we’ve broken oven cleaning down into a painless procedure, we would like to suggest you make your own oven cleaner. Store-bought oven cleaners are often stuffed with undesirable chemicals—ones you would not want anywhere near your mouth, let alone marinating the food you cook. If you want to take the DIY approach to oven cleaning, we recommend using a mix of baking soda and vinegar for the job.
Before you get going with those ingredients, first remove as much spillage as possible with hot, soapy water. Then, use a scraper like this one (designed for Whirlpool brand ovens, which spans many other brands including Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Magic Chef) or this one (for GE and Hotpoint oven models) to scrape off dried food stuck to the oven floor. Be very careful when you’re scraping—you don’t want to graze the porcelain finish or it will eventually rust.
Next, spread baking soda over the dried food covering the bottom of your oven—the dirtier the area, the more baking soda is needed. Then, pour or spray vinegar over the baking soda. The mixture will sizzle and bubble like a sixth grader’s science fair volcano. Once that stops, scrape it off and then wipe away any left over residue with a towel.
By following these simple tips, you can change oven cleaning from being the most intimidating spring-cleaning chore, to the most straightforward. Now if only baking soda and vinegar could vacuum the floor and fold the laundry, too!
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