Cleaning the oven is a chore that nobody enjoys. It’s not only unpleasant, but also quite time-consuming and labor-intensive to clean up after. So it’s no surprise that the prospect of finding a simple solution to do this work is so tempting. Let’s take a look at some of the most generally advised ways for cleaning the oven.
A clean oven is necessary for a number of reasons.
Keep in mind that if you have any burned food particles in your oven, they may transfer that taste to whatever you’re cooking. A filthy oven is not only unsightly, but also less effective.
Particles of fat and carbonized food are distributed throughout the oven as food is cooked. This substance sticks to the oven’s inside and the glass window and, when heated, turns into a plastic-like substance that is impossible to remove with soap and water. This repeats frequently, with layer upon layer of this baked-on oil piling up, until you can no longer see through the glass of your oven.
In actuality, that baked-on grease is a sort of plastic, generated by the polymerization of the fatty acids in the grease. To season a cast-iron skillet, heat oil in it on a stovetop or oven until it forms a dark, sticky film. Food doesn’t adhere to the pan because seasoning generates a polymerized fat layer. Oven muck is essentially that, except with significantly more soot mixed in with the fat.
How Often Should I Clean My Oven?
It is recommended by experts that you clean your oven every three to six months to avoid this accumulation. However, before we can clean it, we need to remove the residue that has built since the last time you did so.
Automatic Cleaning Mechanism
The easiest approach to accomplish this is to use the oven’s self-cleaning feature. To initiate the self-clean cycle, lock the oven and set the temperature to between 700 and 900 degrees Fahrenheit; this will incinerate any baked-on oil, turning it into ash that can be wiped away with a moist cloth. This process takes many hours, during which time your oven will be useless, and it produces a great deal of heat and maybe some smoke. Get some fresh air in there by opening some windows and running the range hood.
Commercially Available Oven Cleaner
Sodium hydroxide, or caustic lye, is the alkaline component in commercial oven cleaners like Easy-Off. You may recall from your chemistry classes in high school that although acids do not dissolve oils and fats, alkalis do. Sodium hydroxide is the active ingredient in oven cleaner, but it is the other solvents and surfactants that help break down the plastic-like grease.
Indeed, it serves its purpose well. In fact, many chefs resort to Easy-Off when reseasoning an old cast-iron skillet. Store-bought oven cleaning is the best option if you want a spotless oven. Follow the guidelines for use to the letter.
To what extent can I clean my oven without using an oven cleaner?
What about the numerous commonly promoted ideas for using so-called “natural” cleansers as an alternative to store-bought oven cleaner? These procedures often utilize baking soda together with vinegar and/or lemons, and to the degree that they work, it’s because these ingredients are themselves chemicals. It is sodium hydrogen carbonate that makes up baking soda. Lemons have citric and malic acids, while vinegar is a solution of acetic acid. However, acids do not breakdown oils and fats, therefore the baked-on grease in your oven will not be removed by using vinegar or lemon juice.
Natural or Do-It-Yourself Cleaners
Baking soda really is the greatest do-it-yourself oven cleaning there is. It has a pH about 8, making it somewhat alkaline in comparison to the neutral pH of water (7). What this implies is that baking soda may be thought of as a gentler alternative to traditional oven cleaners. Therefore, it will perform a more gentler kind of oven cleaning. Typical use guidelines look like this:
- Make a paste out of the baking soda and water.
- Once you’ve applied the paste to the oven’s inside, you should let it sit there overnight.
- Wipe the paste off the following day with a moist towel.
- Spray some vinegar over the surface and wipe it off again.
- Note that although the vinegar does nothing to remove the oil, it does mix with any remaining baking soda to generate water, which may then be washed away.
Lemons for Oven Cleanup? (A Work of FICTION)
Some purists advocate using nothing but lemons to scrub the oven, but as we’ve already seen, acids have little impact on the baked-on grease within the oven. Some ways include putting an oven-safe dish of water with a chopped up lemon in it inside the oven, heating to 250 F for 1 hour, then letting the oven cool and washing off with a moist towel. We guarantee this approach won’t work, but we’re presenting it here for your own edification.
Cutting up a lemon and smearing the interior with the lemon juice, letting it stay for half an hour or more, and then wiping it off with a moist towel is another approach that will not work but is nevertheless widely believed to be effective.