The oven is typically one of the last to-do items on the list when it comes to cleaning a kitchen, perhaps only ahead of scrubbing the stove and cleaning-out the fridge. So by the time it reaches the top of the list, it is usually caked in charred drippings and splatters of once-delicious meals. But not to worry. Even if it has been far too long since the last time you cleaned your oven, you are not doomed to an entire day of deep scrubbing to get your oven sparkling and clean once again. No matter what kind of oven you have, there are pain free and time efficient ways to take care of the problem.
The first step is to determine what kind of oven you have; textured or continuous cleaning, self-cleaning, non self-cleaning. A continuous cleaning oven is the simplest to clean. These ovens have a rough porcelain surface that is supposed to prevent food becoming charred to its surface and will burn it off as you continue to use the oven. To clean it, you merely need to wipe down the oven with a damp cloth after it has cooled. Be sure not to use oven cleaners on this type of oven as they can cause damage.
A self-cleaning oven is only slightly more complicated to clean. Instructions can vary slightly with different models, so be sure to consult the manual for your particular appliance, but standard instructions apply to most self-cleaning ovens. First, empty the oven by removing the racks and washing them in soapy water. Then set your oven to clean and let it run its clean cycle, which typically lasts about three hours. These ovens clean by using a very high temperature to reduce the charred mess to a pile of ash. The oven can smoke if there is a lot of build-up, so never clean your oven when you are not at home. Once the cleaning has finished, allow the oven to cool for several hours and wipe up the ash with a damp cloth. During the summertime, only use the cleaning cycle at night or early in the morning to avoid overly heating your home. You may use oven cleaners on self-cleaning ovens, but don't run the clean cycle while using oven cleaner as this will likely cause damage to your oven!
If you have a non self-cleaning oven, there are still easy ways to get it nice and clean. Oven cleaners are very effective at cutting through baked on grease and food spills. Easy-Off makes a particularly effective oven cleaner that is fume free. To use these cleaners, remove the racks from your oven and spray the cleaner on the surface of a cold oven until the soiled areas are well covered. Be sure to avoid the pilot light, switches, heating elements and thermostat. Close the door to your oven and allow the foam to soak and penetrate the soiled food for approximately two hours. Then wipe it clean with a wet cloth or sponge, rinsing frequently. The charred food should wipe up fairly easily. Make sure to be thorough when wiping up the foam as it can leave a residue. Once you have wiped down your oven, it will be bright and clean once again without the use of a lot of elbow grease.
Baking soda is an effective do-it-yourself oven cleaner if you are looking for a more natural and less expensive way to clean your oven. Make a paste of baking soda and water and use it as you would a heavy-duty oven cleaner. Cover the interior surface of a cool oven with the paste and let it stand overnight. The next day, use a spatula to scrape off the buildup and wipe the oven down with a damp cloth. Your oven will be clean and you will feel good about using an environmentally friendly product.