With the holidays coming up quickly and the need to be ready for an overload of cooking and baking, let’s take a moment and show some appreciation for our good friend and happy helper; our oven.  

You may feel differently, but when I open up my oven and see a lot of old, burnt, crusty schmutz all over the walls and bottom of my oven it takes away some of the joy of cooking.

While extra work is no fun, this particular job doesn’t need to be much of a chore at all.  In fact, it is actually a fairly easy process and takes less time than you might think.  

Here is a quick guide on what to do to enjoy your oven once again:

  1. The first step in getting your oven in tip-top shape for the holidays is to get it emptied out.  Take out all your pots, pans, pizza stone, oven thermometer, any other miscellaneous items that might be stored there, and all the oven racks.
  2. Stick your racks in the bathtub with hot water and some liquid detergent and let them soak.  If you are worried about scratching your tub, just lay out some towels to protect it.  After a few hours, you can take the racks out, scrub them with a hard bristle brush or scrubbing pad and they should be clean with just a little elbow grease.
  3. Back in the kitchen, use a wooden, rubber, or plastic spatula to do a quick scrape on any dirty surface to remove the easy stuff without scratching the surface.  
  4. Make a paste with ½ cup of baking soda and a few (3-4) tablespoons of water.  It should be pasty, not watery, and easy to spread with a brush like a heavy paint. 
  5. Wear some protective rubber gloves if you’d like.  The mixture is harmless, but the gloves will help you protect your hands and fingernails from the grease and grime.  Take a pastry brush or any cheap disposable paintbrush if you have one and paint the paste onto all the areas of caked-on crud.   Be generous and if you need to make more, so be it.  Apparently, you have done a lot of baking over time and have earned the right to clean a bigger mess, so don’t be shy with laying it on thick, especially in the areas with excessive crust or grease.  Make sure you get into all the corners and crannies.  NOTE:  Make sure to avoid getting paste on the heating elements if your oven is electric!  It might not harm them, but the stuff will really smell later if you don’t get it all cleaned off really well, so best to just avoid them.
  6. Once everything is coated, leave it alone overnight or most of the day if you want to do this as a morning and evening project.  Use a damp rag or dish towel to wipe down the entire surface to remove as much of the dried residue as you can.  Your wooden or plastic spatula will come in handy here, giving you extra scaping power and reach for those corners in the back.
  7. While most of the residue should wipe off, there will still be more, so grab a spray bottle with white vinegar and start dousing those remaining areas.  It will react with the remaining baking soda and foam up a bit.  Between your towel and the spatula, you should be able to remove pretty much everything and repeat the vinegar spray as needed.
  8. With a final wipe down you should have a nice, clean, chemical-free oven to be proud of!

A clean oven is a lovin’ oven. Get to it–it’s National Clean Your Oven Day on November 1st!

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