Oh, I tried chemical oven cleaner once. Never again.
Although I thought I’d rinsed the oven thoroughly, some oven cleaner residue was lurking still… and it nearly killed us 😯
So these days I use the natural method of oven cleaning, which requires nothing more than some bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar, and a bit of elbow grease!
For those who would also like to steer clear of dangerous chemicals and have a spotless oven, here’s a quick pictorial.
This is what my oven looked like beforehand. It’s not as bad as it could be, but still speckled with baked-on dirt. Yuck!
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I only clean my oven roughly every six months (hey, stop judging me!). It’s a lot of work and I doubt anyone enjoys the task, but it has to be done.
Cleaning the oven with bicarb and vinegar is a two-part process, because you need to leave it overnight (same as with some chemical oven cleaners).
For the first step, try to get the bicarb up on the top of the oven and in all the hard-to-reach corners too. You could also make a paste with bicarb and water to get it to stick if needed.
Be warned: Step 2 releases some caustic fumes, though nothing compared to the dangerous fumes from chemical cleaners. I spritz the vinegar onto the soda with a spray bottle, which helps to reach odd spots.
Now you can leave the mixture to do the hard work overnight while you sleep 🙂 I take out all the trays and racks and treat them separately and leave them in the bath. Our oven’s door also detaches easily, which makes the job simpler.
In the morning you should see that much of the mixture has dried. Often it will have turned brown in spots, which is how you know that it’s been eating away at the dirt on that surface.
Now it’s time to put on your gloves, grab a scouring pad and start scrubbing. If you did a thorough job on the first two steps, the mixture of bicarb and vinegar will have lifted off a lot of dirt and grease that can just be wiped away. In the pic above you can see a circular area I’ve scrubbed clean without much effort.
I recently bought a cleaning bucket with two separate sections for clean and dirty water. This was a great help and is a worthwhile investment (although I can’t help wishing it came with wheels too).
There’s no secret to the rest of the job: it’s just scrubbing, rinsing and drying. I lay newspaper on the floor to catch the inevitable spills, and wipe up the excess bicarb with paper towels. The roof of the oven is my least favourite part because of the awkward access, but with persistence it comes clean as well.
It’s a tedious job that took me just over an hour (maybe because of all the interruptions for photos?), but you can make good use of the time by listening to music or audio books in the background as you work. The great thing about using ‘green cleaners’ such as bicarb and vinegar is that if for some reason you don’t rinse them off properly, they won’t harm you or the food you cook in the oven afterwards.
And the results are just as good as with any chemical cleaner! 🙂