I have never, in all my decades of using ovens, done a deep-clean on one of them. I did the line-it-with-foil trick in all of the properties we’ve rented (which Real Simple and other sources say is a bad idea), but I never did it once we actually bought a house.
We use our oven a lot, and it was a filthy doom pit in there. Really. Here’s an unaltered picture to prove it:
After more than three years of pizza, pie and casseroles, I decided I should probably go ahead and clean the oven. I’d heard that the self-cleaning cycle could damage the oven, and I didn’t want to use any harsh chemicals. After a little research, I decided I’d give TheKitchn.com’s baking soda and vinegar method a try.
First I made a too-thin paste using baking soda, water and a little bit of salt, because I have a bad habit of not actually measuring things. I added some more baking soda to fix it, then I started glopping it onto the floor and walls of the oven. TheKitchn suggests using rubber gloves for this. TheKitchn is smart, but I didn’t have any rubber gloves so I just used my dainty little paws. The bad news: I may or may not have fingerprints now. The silver lining: My hands are pretty well exfoliated.
Twelve hours, two loads of laundry, and trips to the grocery store, Target and the library later, I sprayed some plain white vinegar over the baking soda and went to work with my brand-new scrub brush. The result? A good bit of the baked-on badness came off, but there was still a lot left to go.
It would seem that there was a large spill in there at some point, and it wasn’t giving up so easily. So I mixed up some more baking powder paste and applied it, and the next morning the scrub brush and I went once more into the breach.
The floor of the oven looks considerably better now. You can clearly see that I didn’t get any of the grease spatter off of the walls, though. I had a very hard and awkward time reaching the back one, and the baking soda & vinegar combo didn’t work very well on the sides.
So I wasn’t able to get the oven entirely clean with baking soda and vinegar, but it’s much much better than it was this time last week. I’m going to go ahead and use some oven cleaner to finish it off, but I suspect that the baking powder and vinegar combo would be sufficient on an oven that wasn’t as far beyond as mine. I’ll try it again the next time the oven needs a cleaning; hopefully that won’t be three years from now.