Chew On This with Chef Andrew - Lovin' Your Oven: How To Safely Keep Her Clean

Hello my cooking friends,
A lot of customers ask me what’s the best way to clean their ovens. Personally, I don’t like the self cleaning function because it gets so darn hot and can cause problems for the electrical components of the oven that need to stay cool. Here are my favorite tips for the safest, natural way to keep your oven clean.

Something I used to say in the kitchens when I was working in fine dining restaurants and training new chefs was, “If you don’t make a mess, you don’t have to clean a mess.” A great way you can integrate that into your cooking is to think preventatively. I like to use a sheet tray or cookie tray underneath anything that I cook in the oven that might spill or bubble over. A sheet tray under a casserole dish, muffin tins or pie rounds will catch any mess in the making. It is a lot easier to clean a sheet tray than the bottom of your oven! 

According to Debra Johnson, an in-house cleaning expert at Merry Maidswhile it’s certainly not a glamorous task, regularly cleaning your oven improves the quality of the food you cook in it, while keeping your oven safer to use. 

How often should I clean my oven?
Johnson tells us, "How often you use your oven will impact how often you should clean it. For avid cooks and bakers who regularly rely on it, a general rule of thumb is to scrub it once every three months. If you rarely fire up your oven (say, just a couple times a month), cleaning it about once or twice a year should suffice". 

Should I use my oven's self-clean function?
Johnson responds, "When you press the self-clean button,  your oven locks and climbs to a high temperature of upwards of 550 degrees. This heat helps to melt and remove your grease and grime, but if you have a moderate amount of buildup on the bottom, it can backfire and smoke up—and in some cases, start a fire".  Always stay at home and keep the kids and pets away from the kitchen while the cleaning cycle is on. 

What Stuff Do I Need To Clean My Oven?

1. Rubber Cleaning Gloves: No disposable gloves! Your hands need more protection than thin gloves will provide.
2. Paper Towels, Rags and Large Garbage Bags: To pad the floor around your oven to catch any drips.
3. Damp cloths or rags and scouring sponges.

4. Lemons (4), Baking Soda, Distilled Vinegar 

How to Clean Your Oven With Baking Soda and Vinegar
(Source: Cooking Light Magazine)
1. Remove everything from your oven - racks, pizza stone, thermometer, etc.

2. Lay out garbage bags or paper towels on the floor beneath your oven.

3. In a small bowl and mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Tweak the ratio until you have a spreadable paste.

4. Put on your gloves and using your fingers, spread the paste around the inside of your oven, covering the back, sides, bottom, top, door, corners and crevices. If you have an electric oven, don't put paste on the heating elements. If you have a gas oven, don't put the paste where the gas comes through. Close the oven.

5. Allow paste to sit for 10 - 12 hours or overnight.

6. In the meantime, place the oven racks in the kitchen sink or bathtub. Sprinkle baking soda on your racks and then pour vinegar on top. This combination will foam up. When the foaming stops, plug your sink or tub and run hot water until the racks are fully covered. Allow racks to sit for 10 - 12 hours or overnight.

7. After 10 - or 12 hours, put on your gloves again and taking a damp cloth, open the oven and wipe down all surfaces. If there are extra sticky spots, use a wet scouring sponge, or anothger abrasive tool, to remove the grime.

8. If there are chunks of paste that won't come off easily, put some vinegar in a spray bottle and spray in on the chunks. The vinegar will react with the baking soda and foam up. Take your damp cloth again and wipe off all of the foam.

9. Remove racks from the water and scrub with a cloth until all grease and grime is gone. Use the scrubby sponge on any tough spots.

10. Dry the racks and place them back in the oven. You're done! (For a few months!)

How to Clean Your Oven With Lemons
This is a good method if your oven is mildly dirty and your racks don't need cleaning.
1. Fill a medium-sized, oven-proof pot or pan with water. Cut 4 lemons in half and place them in the water.

2. Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

3. Once heated, place the pot inside on one of the racks. Leave for one hour.

4. After an hour, turn off the oven, open the door and let it cool slightly.

5. While the oven is still warm (but cool enough that you can safely touch the inside without getting burned), put on gloves, take a damp cloth and wipe down all surfaces, including the back, side, bottom, top, door, corners and crevices. If needed, use a wet scouring sponge or other abrasive tool to target any extra sticky spots. If stubborn spots persist, scrub with a paste of baking soda and lemon or vinegar. Be sure to wipe thoroughly so you remove all of the grease and grime.

6. You're done! (For a few months!)

Stay safe, stay clean, and have fun out there!
Happy Cooking, Chef Andrew Forlines, 
Executive Chef, Mountain High Appliance

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