Between hosting Thanksgiving dinner, baking batch after batch of Christmas cookies, and preparing a few dishes to bring to your family’s Christmas Eve potluck, your oven gets some serious action during the holiday season. With so many things going in and out of the oven, it’s inevitable that spills and overflows will happen, causing debris to build up on the bottom and cling to the racks. By the end of the holidays, it’s more than necessary to clean your oven.
Oven cleanliness is something that’s very much out of sight, out of mind for a lot of people. You know at the back of your mind that your oven could probably use a deep cleaning, but since you don’t have to look at it during the day the way you do the rest of your kitchen, it’s easy to forget about. But keeping your oven clean will help it to perform better, operate more efficiently, and last longer.
These oven cleaning tips (including an all-natural way to clean your oven!) will help you keep your oven in top form throughout the holiday season.
Tip #1: The Self-Cleaning Setting
If your oven is less than about 50 years old, it most likely has a self-cleaning function. It’s amazing how few people take advantage of this feature! The self-cleaning function performs a cleaning cycle that elevates the oven’s temperature to over 900ºF, where it rests for between 2 ½ and 4 hours. In that time, the extreme heat burns all debris to white ash, which you can easily wipe up with a damp paper towel after the oven has cooled down. For safety, the oven door locks for the duration of the self-cleaning cycle.
Word of caution: The self-cleaning process can sometimes cause your oven to emit a funky odor that permeates the house while it’s running. Depending on what kind of debris you have in your oven, it can also become smoky and set off the smoke alarm.
RELATED: 4 Tips to Prevent Holiday Oven Disasters
Tip #2: All-Natural Baking Soda Scrub
As easy as it is, some people are averse to using the self-cleaning function because it makes them nervous to have an appliance reach such temperatures inside their home. Fair enough! If you’re not going to use the self-cleaning function to clean your oven, you’re going to have to be prepared to do it the old-fashioned way: with your own elbow grease.
For an all-natural oven cleaning technique, measure out a ½ cup of baking soda and add a few tablespoons of water until the mixture reaches a paste-like consistency. Remove the wire racks from the oven, then use an old sponge to spread the baking soda paste all over the bottom and sides of the oven, making sure to avoid the heating elements. Pro tip: You might want to use some rubber cleaning gloves for this portion.
If the debris is minimal, you can go ahead and scrub the paste off right away. If it’s really baked on or it’s been a long time since you’ve cleaned your oven, leave the paste to sit for 12-24 hours. The baking soda will break down the debris, making it easier to scrub off later. Just use damp dish cloth and put a little muscle into it. Use a spatula to scrape off the most stubborn bits if need be.
Tip #3: Super-Powered Baking Soda Scrub
If your oven debris is extra resistant to removal or you don’t want to wait 12-24 hours for the baking soda to work its magic before your clean your oven, you can speed up the process by pouring vinegar over the baking soda paste. The vinegar will spark a chemical reaction with the baking soda paste that will fizz and quickly break down the debris so that it is easier to scrub or scrape off.
Tip #4: Store-Bought Oven Cleaners
There are plenty of store-bought oven cleaners with powerful chemicals that will work a number on your dirty oven. However, some people don’t like using these chemicals because due to the harshness of the fumes they emit (making for an unpleasant cleaning experience) or because they don’t like the idea of such strong chemicals coming into close proximity with the food they prepare.
Like any appliance in your home, the better care you take of your oven, the longer it will last and the better it will perform. So give it a good, rigorous cleaning after the holidays!
If your appliance does fail on you this holiday season, print this coupon to receive $25 off any Bonfe appliance repair.