Cleaning oven is a task neglected by many. Though you clean the stovetop almost on a daily basis, we don’t do much justice to oven interiors even if it reeks of burnt food.
But, cleaning oven regularly is essential because the food remains stuck on to the oven burns every time the oven works. These burnt foods essentially release carcinogenic fumes, which are absorbed by your food. Though you may not notice any ill effect on your health in the short-term, it may cause irreversible damage in the long-term. This is why you should clean food remains inside the oven on a daily basis and deep clean the oven at least once every month.
So, how do you deep clean your oven?
The first thought might be to scrub and clean it with regular dish washing liquid. But unfortunately, that isn’t a good idea!
While scrubbing dishes, we usually clean it in running water which clears all residues of the cleaning liquid. But is that the case when you clean your oven?
No. As you cannot clean the oven interiors with running water, you would be scrubbing and sponging instead. No matter how thoroughly you try to execute it, residues of the dish washing liquid will remain in the oven surface. And when you bake a cake or reheat your food, harmful fumes from these residues will contaminate your food. Though you cannot see or even taste it, it is present in your food and you are ignorantly consuming them and hurting your health in the long run.
So, what exactly are there in these fumes? If you look at the composition of the cleaning liquids in your kitchen, you can almost certainly see two ingredients—triclosan and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLES). The side effects of these ingredients include hormone imbalance, infertility, skin irritation, damage to circulatory, respiratory and digestive system, to name a few.
Yes, the goodies you bake in the oven aren’t filled with just chocolate and eggs, but also some deadly chemicals you would want to steer clear off at all cost.
Thankfully, we have natural alternatives that can be used to clean the oven without any harmful side effects. And the best part is that these are mostly household items that are found in most homes.
Alternative 1- Baking Soda Mixture
The ingredients required for making the baking soda mixture are- baking soda (obviously!), vinegar and lime. You will also need damp cloth, scrub, water and a spatula.
In order to make the mixture, take a bowl and mix half a cup of baking soda and add juice from one lime and enough vinegar to make it a spreadable paste.
This mixture works because baking soda is a mild abrasive and helps dislodge particles and stains from most surfaces. It also absorbs odour. When mixed with vinegar, the mixture cuts through the grease resulting in spotlessly clean surfaces. Lime juice imparts a pleasant smell to the oven.
So, now, let us look at how to clean the oven step-by-step.
Remove Oven Racks: The first step while cleaning oven is to remove the oven racks and wash them in running water with regular soap.
Scrape Food Remains: Remove any food remains on to the oven surface. You can either wipe them off gently or if it is stuck, then gently scrape it off with a spatula.
Coat The Paste: Take the baking soda mixture and spread it thoroughly on to the interior surface of the oven, particularly any greasy areas. Do not apply it on to the vents and heating elements.
Allow It To Dry: Leave the mixture overnight or for 12 hours so that it dries off.
Scrub The Oven: After 12 hours, use a gentle plastic scrub or a scouring pad and gently scrub off the dried baking soda. In order to loosen the dried mixture, spray a little vinegar. The vinegar will react with the mixture creating foam which will help clean the grease and dislodge any particles stuck on to the surface. If the dried paste stubbornly refuses to come off, scrape it with a spatula gently.
Sponge and Wipe: Residues of the mixture will remain on the oven surface even after scrubbing. So, use a wet sponge or a damp cloth and thoroughly wipe the oven surface. Repeat if necessary.
Now, place the clean oven racks and your oven is ready for next round of baking!
Alternative 2- Charcoal Powder
If you do not like the idea of cleaning with baking powder and vinegar, you can alternatively use this method. This method is quicker as you don’t have to leave it overnight. But on the other hand, you will have to put a lot more effort in to scrubbing.
To make the cleaning mixture, take half cup of charcoal powder (you can buy it online or at a supermarket near you), 2-3 Tbsp. salt and add water and juice from one lemon to make a coarse paste.
If you ask your grandmother, you will know that wood ash and charcoal powder were used since time immemorial for cleaning dishes. Not only is it efficient, but it is also quite safe and side effect free.
Just like the previous method, clean the oven racks and scrape off any food remains stuck on to the interior oven surface.
Next, dip a scouring pad in to the charcoal powder paste and gently scrub the oven interiors.
Then, wipe off the mixture from the surface of the oven using a damp cloth or a wet sponge. Repeat if the residues still remain.
And voila, your oven is ready as good as new!
So, next time you have a dirty oven, forget about chemical based cleaning liquids and opt for natural methods instead. And do let us know in comments which of these two alternatives worked for you!