One of the side effects of all our high fat cooking is that splatters and spills are greasy. Another fringe benefit of making everything from scratch all the time is that those splatters are frequent! Sure, I wiped it down a few times a day and cleaned out the drip pan every month or two, but I’m ashamed to say it took a fire before I got down on my hands and knees and tried to scrub the oven out completely. Even when we did our big top to bottom kitchen cleaning extravaganza so we would be totally gluten-free, I admit I skimped on thoroughly scrubbing the very back of the oven under the elements, and there was no way that window glass in the door was coming clean!I was gearing up to put two chickens in the oven. I’d given them a nice paprika rub and melted my ghee… mmmm….. crispy chicken! As the oven preheated, I saw flashing lights in the vent. The lower element had caught fire and broken, probably because of grime burning underneath it. Fortunately it went out on its own when I turned the oven off and there was no major damage done. After a few tears, the chickens went into crock pots and I set about figuring out what to do.
Our first thought was NEW, WHITE, SELF-CLEANING OVEN!!! TinyHands already had one on her wishlist to the tune of $439. But that would have meant getting a new store credit card and adding a monthly payment to our already-strapped budget. I stalled for a week, put the kibosh on the order, and spent another week tracking down the right part. Our oven was so old that Whirlpool didn’t have our model number in their database. They had to send it to the parts research team!For $28 plus shipping and a bit of a wait (see what that did to my meal planning), I had my new bake element. Of course I wasn’t going to just put the new element in. My oven needed cleaning! But of course we don’t use toxic oven cleaner products around here.
First things first, I pulled the oven out and unplugged it. Yikes! There was d-CON under there… plus years’ worth of grime that had dripped down between the oven and the cabinets. That wasn’t too hard to clean up. I started with the broom, progressed to vinegar & water, and most of it came up. But I needed something more abrasive, so I pulled out the Bon Ami powder.This stuff is great. It’s made of limestone, feldspar, biodegradable cleaning agents from coconut & corn, soda ash, and baking soda. Our son does have an IgE corn allergy but it’s not extreme. I figure on surfaces like the side of the oven or the bathtub he’ll be ok. A little bit of scrubbing and some light elbow grease and things were looking pretty good.
I took out the old bake element. This was ridiculously easy – all I needed was a flat head screw driver. Then it was time to scrub the oven itself.Bon Ami did the trick for the most part, but it is super awkward to clean the inside of an oven with the door open. I probably should have figured how to take it all the way off. Once that was as good as I could get it, I hooked up the new element, and lucky for me, it worked!
The door itself was another matter. The window was caked in baked-on goo. All my scrubbing barely put a dent in it. I finally just gave up and called it good. The time, start to finish? 4 hours! My back and arms were sore!!!
How often do you clean your oven? What do you clean it with?
I’m thinking of trying the recipe for natural oven cleaning that I found at Learning Herbs.