In the kitchen

A natural way to clean your oven

Not being a huge fan of housework to begin with I never really think about things like cleaning the oven. I feel like it’s one of those things that everyone knows should be done every so often (perhaps in the spring?) But we tend to ignore it until there’s an incident.

After a lot of holiday baking, however I had said such incident. Last year my daughter and I decided that baking monkey bread would be an awesome holiday tradition. The gooey deliciousness of sugar, flour, butter, more sugar, more butter, (you get the idea), is just too good to pass up. Toward the end of its bake time this year though, the monkey bread started smoking up in the oven! Not actually the monkey bread thank goodness, but some of the butter had spilled up over the pan as the yeasty dough rose.

Needless to say the buttery goodness at the bottom of my oven was not so good. And I could not bake anything in that bad boy until I cleaned it out. Living in a rental there’s no telling how well the oven was cleaned the last time someone did clean it, so I headed for the store to look for some heavy duty oven cleaner.

I’m not a huge fan of chemical anything in the home and I try to clean all corners of my house with natural cleaners as much as possible. But my past experiences with used ovens has proven to be harsh. So when I didn’t find some harsh chemical cleaner anywhere in the store, I Googled “natural ways to clean an oven” and found one that worked pretty well, more or less.

The site that I found this little concoction on made it look so simple and easy to clean your oven with this mixture without breaking a sweat. Sorry, but that’s not the reality. There was a really cute little video involved and I was waiting for Snow White to pop up with birds singing above her head while she gracefully swiped away the cleaning mix along with any gunk and grime. This was not the scene in my kitchen; I’m pretty sure my kid thinks I am unstable after performing such housecleaning activities. I really don’t believe there’s any graceful, easy way to clean an oven; after all you’re on your knees, head and shoulders inside this cube stuck between your counters, trying to work around that really inconvenient door which suddenly seems enormous, and it’s nothing but awkward nooks and crannies to scrub through. So needless to say I don’t have any cute videos to show you of how simple it is to wipe on this mix and then gently wipe it off again, magically leaving a spotlessly like-brand-new oven. But after some experimenting of my own, I can share with you what did work for me with this recipe.

The ratios I found weren’t really spot on either, but I made it work and I am pretty happy with the results. Plus no gross harsh chemical smell in the house! So ultimately this is how I will clean my oven from now on.

Here’s what you need:

A box of baking soda, water, vinegar, rubber gloves and plenty of old towels and rags. Also you can use a bucket of warm water, or your kitchen sink to rinse out the rags as you go.

First make sure that your oven is off and completely cooled. Remove the racks and clean them with this mix as well. Set them aside to dry until you are all finished with the oven.

Use a decent sized bowl to pour in about 1/2 Cup to 1 Cup of baking soda to start with. Add water a little at a time, stirring to create a thick paste. You don’t want it too runny as it needs stick to the sides and back of your oven as well. Mix up more as you need it.

With gloves on, take handfuls of the baking soda mix and rub it all over the inside of your oven, trying to avoid the heating coils. I noticed that just the soda and water mixture starting lifting up some of the burnt on butter on its own. But for some added cleaning power, I used white vinegar.

If you have a spray bottle (which was what they used in the video I watched) you could fill it with vinegar and spray it all over the inside of the oven at this point. I didn’t have an extra sprayer, so I simply poured about 2-3 Tbsp of vinegar in the bottom of the oven and used a rag to move it around. I dipped the rag in vinegar to work the sides and back. The vinegar will bubble up when it hits the baking soda, giving you a nice lift of grease. Plus it feels science-y and magical all at the same time…cut me some slack, this was the most fun part of all of this for me.

At this point it’s a matter of wiping everything out, rinsing your cleaning rags and wiping some more until you have all of the baking soda out. If you miss a few spots, you’ll notice them quickly by just turning the oven onto warm for a moment or two. The heat will dry everything up, and you’ll see white lines and spots wherever there is still some soda. Wait for the oven to be completely cool and then wash them off with water.

Ultimately I am glad that the oven is clean and that it didn’t involve harsh chemicals or scrubbing. It’s not like-brand-new, but considering it has been through several owners I am pleased with how shiny it is right now.

Let me know if you try this kitchen tip for your oven!

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